Business Genius

I moved to Denmark from the UK, this is my blog.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Night Fighter

My grandad had a letter the other day from a woman who is trying to find out more about her uncle who was killed in World War Two when his Lancaster collided with another over Germany. He was in the same (44) squadron as my grandad but they did not know one another. The woman's letter was interesting as she addressed my grandad with the letters DFM after his name - Distinguished Flying Medal. I am often reminded of his actions in the war by a picture that hangs in his kitchen. It is of him and his crew members outside the door of their Lancaster, smiling and joking after returning from a raid.
I love that picture. My grandad was 18 when it was taken. It is difficult to comprehend him flying heavy bombers over Germany at such a young age. But he did. Along with countless others, 99 percent of whom were younger than I am now. In fact I would have been an old man in Bomber Command. An old man at 27.
Anyway, my grandad did a little research for the woman. He has books detailing all of Bomber Command's losses during the war and I think he was able to fill in some blanks for her. She had found out that her uncle also flew some missions with a different crew, captained by a chap named Curatale but had not known what happened to them. My grandfather read her the sparse details from his book. 'Took off from RAF Oldham, such and such a date, shot down by night fighter. All crew buried in such and such cemetery.' And that was that. Eight young men shot out of the sky and gone forever. One particularly poignant detail was the fact that that mission was fairly unique for having eight men aboard. A normal crew was seven but pilots often accompanied experienced crews on a mission before piloting their own planes.
I wonder if he felt part of that crew. The bonds between the crews were especially tight. I hope he did not feel too much of an outsider. The picture above is not of my grandad's crew but it's remarkably similar in composition.


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