Last of the Few

The Battle of Britain in the words of the pilots who won it

Hurricane Mk1 at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford, Gloucestershire, England, 2008. (Adrian Pingstone)

Pilot Officer Bob Doe: 234 and 238 Squadron

I had two half-hour trips in the Hurricane, learning to fly it, and went into action….

On 10 October we were scrambled, Hurricanes against high-flying 109s, on a day when there was a solid cloud from about 4,000 up to 20,000 feet. Once in the cloud, I lost everyone. As I broke the cloud, I was hit from behind and in front. The first thing I knew, a spark came over my right shoulder into the dashboard. Then I heard a thump underneath my bottom, and a cannon shell hit my right foot and cut the Achilles tendon. I was hit in my left shoulder, which was like the blow from a sledgehammer, and I was also hit in the hand….

I realized I was still alive and that I ought to get out quickly…. I landed on my bottom and was knocked out. When I came to, I was in the middle of a quagmire on Brownsea Island with an Irishman standing over me with an iron bar saying, “What are you?” For me the Battle of Britain was over. I was twenty years old and had fourteen confirmed kills to my credit.

Pictured: A Hawker Hurricane going down over Britain, presumably during the Battle of Britain.


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