I’m fascinated by the Battle of Britain, and have closely studied many aspects of it (but am still always learning). Our recent opportunity to live in the UK for a couple years reignited my interest, and I tried to take full advantage to see and learn as much as I could while we were there. Even though the technology of 1940 is archaic by today’s standards, the epic clash between the RAF and the Luftwaffe remains a classic air campaign. I’ll be blogging more about it.
Along those lines, here’s a snippet I found on a great site, www.92squadron.com. 92 Squadron was one of the famous Spitfire units that defended SE England, operating from several key RAF airfields; Biggin Hill, Hornchurch, Manston and Northholt. The excerpt comes from the autobiography of Squadron Leader John Kent, who took command of 92 Sqdn in October 1940. Kent (one of the battle’s true heroes himself), describes a classic example of the laconic understatement and “no-fuss” attitude that RAF pilots routinely exhibited:
Flight Officer Kinder, a hefty New Zealander, was shooting at a second Stuka when he too was attacked. A few days later I received a letter from him written in hospital and I think it is one of the most perfect examples of unwitting understatement I have ever come across. The purpose of the letter was to lay claim to one Stuka destroyed and one probably destroyed and he followed up with a description of what happened.
“I was firing at the second Ju-87,” he wrote, “which began to smoke heavily at the starboard wing root, but at this point my attention was distracted by a cannon shell which entered the left wing and blew the end off. I turned and chased the 109 that had hit me and I last saw it going down smoking near Herne Bay. I did not feel very well so I decided to return to Biggin, but after a while I felt worse so I landed in a field, I regret to say, with my undercarriage retracted. After a little while I felt better so I phoned the nearest RAF station and they came and collected me from the farm house from which I had phoned.”
’Tiny’ Kinder was not the sort of man to try to impress me with his coolness, he was just stating plain facts. He did not mention, because to him it had no bearing on the matter, that the shell that ‘blew the end off’ had also badly wounded him in the left arm and leg. Despite this he clamped his arm onto his leg in an effort to stop the bleeding in both, turned his partly disabled aircraft and succeeded in out-manoeuvring the German and, I was able to establish later, shot it down. It was no wonder that he ‘felt ill’ but again he did not mention that he had had to walk nearly a mile from where he had landed to the farmhouse. Quite a remarkable person.
I poked around to find more on Maurice ‘Tiny’ Kinder, from Aukland NZ, and hopefully get a photo of him, but so far only this...
Maybe someday I can build or modify one of my existing Spits to portray Tiny’s plane with proper markings. For now, at least the Ajax air museum features a 92 Sqdn Spitfire, coded QJ-B. Anyone know who flew that?