SUBMITTED BY RICHARD WEST
‘Aircraft warming up. Look lively. Keep your eyes peeled and the gun pointed at the sky.’
‘We do this all day long Corp. Why is it so special right now?’
‘ ‘Cause when they take off or land, our lads are at their most vulnerable.’
‘Ah. Come, Come. The Battle of Britain is long over. The chances of German bombers showing up at Biggin Hill, are slim.’
Dick glanced at the smart arse.
‘Stinky. It’s not bombers we are worried about. It’s a lone fighter roaring out of the clouds to strafe our lads as they take off.’
‘Gun crew all present and correct., Corp.’
‘Thanks Sandy. Now, you know the drill. Traverse the gun across the sky . All eyes open.’
The sound of Merlins roaring along the runway drew Dick’s attention. He stared as they raced towards his gun emplacement.
His worry slowly growing. They were still racing down the runway, neither slowing or taking off, just tearing towards them. Too close.
‘Get that gun down.’ He bellowed.
Stinky didn’t hesitate. Like a madman, he worked the wheel that adjusted the gun’s elevation, then jumped off his seat onto the ground.
The Spitfires roared over them, only feet above where the gun, and their heads, had been moments before.
Dick raised himself to see the last two Spitfires climbing away, rocking their wings.
‘Bugger. Those crazy fools did that on purpose.’
‘I think that’s the new Squadron, Corp,’ Sandy said. ‘Someone told me they are Canadians.’
‘Mad Canadians.’ Dick blurted.
That evening an RAF Corporal arrived by motor cycle.
‘Can I help you Corporal.’ Dick said.
He picked up a crate of beer from his sidecar, handed it to Dick, smiled and said ‘Compliments of the Canadians, Corp.’
Corporal Dick West served in the British Army, Royal Artillery during the Second World War, while his wife Winnifred (Winn) struggled with the war in London, England. They were my parents. These short stories are derived from them telling me what it was like in those times. All the characters except for Corporal West and his wife Winn, are fictitious.
Dick was first called up in 1938 during the Munich crisis. He returned to civilian life in 1939 only to be called up again in late summer as the Second World War broke out. He was finally demobbed early in 1946. These stories are in chronological order.
About Richard West:
Richard grew up in London, England. He trained as an engineer then emigrated to Canada. His career involved travel to many parts of our wonderful planet. Richard is blessed with two wonderful children, and four super grandchildren.
West has lived in NOTL since 1979. He has always loved to read. Exposed to Welsh poetry and verse by his wife, he has a soft spot for Dylan Thomas.
He started writing stories in the early 1990s, to see how it was done. Over the intervening years, he has written about family memories and science fiction stories. His journey of learning about this craft has been rewarding.
Richard has written a number of short stories and newspaper articles, as well as two novels.
Editor’s note: This story will be published as a series of 10 short stories. This is part seven.