Monday, September 14th
I was unexpectedly moved today by a posting I read on another site, detailing the destruction of an aircraft my father was flying alongside, back in 1941. I think it was the photograph of one of the young men that did it – a man whose name I hadn’t even known until now.
They were a long way from German fighters and other unpleasantness at the time. This was a carefree hop back to base with his colleagues, swooping past the cliffs, enjoying the experience. They were both flying at perhaps 500 feet, when the other plane suddenly headed down to the sea, struck it, and exploded.
This event merits two neat lines in my father’s flying log book. Behind the words there’s always a story.
He’d lost others from the squadron before this, but they’d always been a case of ‘failed to return’ from a mission – something that had happened off-stage. At 21, he’d witnessed the casual ending of four lives.
I felt today, for the first time, something of what I imagine my father must have felt and then repressed – the random nature of death, the utter waste. I miss him – and I miss the person he was, whom I never met, before the many sorrows hit.
And I also felt, in his scant words, the nature of courage. It was an unexpected gift.