Memoir

A while ago I was asked to help with the biography of a man who had served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. For some reason we needed the serial number of the Spitfire he’d been flying when he was shot down and injured. So I fired up all the usual search engines and looked through the official lists. What I learned was sobering. It turned out that more than 20,000 Spitfires were made during the war, but the overwhelming cause of their destruction was accidents – not combat. Bear in mind that there were dozens of types of aircraft in service and this becomes very worrying. The next thing that emerged was that there was no accurate record of the destruction of his aircraft. Can you imagine losing a high speed, expensive, fighter plane and pilot, today, and there being no record of it? Well, it seems that this was pretty common at the time. The words ‘unsung hero’ come to mind, except there were thousand just like him. Let us be grateful for the sacrifice of men like this. And let us never forget how ghastly and expensive war is -- in every sense.