Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Churchill's Few

I bought this print ages ago which is signed by some of the Battle of Britain pilots. It's a beauty and completely appropriate as a gift for my husband who is mad about Spitfires.




It's a sight from a bygone era and depicts 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill during a visit by Churchill and Hugh Dowding, the commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.

92 Squadron was the first into action on the 15th September 1940, now known as Battle of Britain Day. In all, between the 10th July and the 31st October 1940, the Battle of Britain raged in the skies overhead with RAF fighter pilots taking off to defend King and country against the Luftwaffe. Out of around 2900 aircrew, 550 were killed and many more were injured.

Geoffrey Wellum, the author of 'First Light,' was only 18 when he was posted to 92 Squadron in May 1940. He is depicted in the print above and I believe he is in the front row, second from the right.
In his book he describes many of the battles with such clarity and you almost feel as if you're right there in the cockpit with him. As a writer, Mr Wellum is certainly in tune with all of his senses enabling you to smell, feel and virtually fly the Spitfire.  His descriptions of returning to base only to discover that the possessions of his room mate have been completely removed are very poignant, especially as this is something that recurs over and over. One minute you're here, the next you're gone!

Known as 'Boy' to other members of his Squadron, he proved he was no coward by becoming an efficient and successful fighter pilot, and one that survived. His novel is a well written biographical and historical account and one of great interest. He is a very characterful chap and recently attended the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in London. I do believe that this August he will be 91 years of age and I wish him many more and good health.