I am indebted to James West for sharing this picture of no fewer than six Supermarine Spitfires seen earlier today over the Solent..
Six planes is half a Squadron. Seventy-five summers ago, during the Battle of Britain, such a tiny force would frequently have been scrambled to take on over 100 incoming enemy planes. And not only over the South of England. This day in 1940, August 18th, was a particularly tough one for the RAF and has come to be known as the Hardest Day, with heavy losses on both sides.
I can’t help reflecting upon the fact that the pilots involved in that momentous conflict were not only so few in number, but also so very young. Nineteen or twenty was typical, the same age as the undergraduate students I teach at work.
So few and so young, but without their courage and skill the world would have slipped into unimaginable darkness.
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