Tuesday, 15 March 2011
I don’t recall exactly how old I was, but I was at my secondary school so I suppose I was in my teens. I was up in London with my father for some reason and we had a bit of time to spare. My father said he had something to show me, then led me down Fleet Street to a church.
That church was St Clement Danes, home church to the RAF. Father opened the doors and walked in. I trotted along beside him, glancing around at the flags, silver memorials and magnificent woodwork of the church, but father had no time for such things. He strode past them all and headed toward the pulpit. Just before reaching the pulpit he knelt down, scanning the floor. He seemed to find something. Then he beckoned me over.
“Here it is,” he whispered. “See that.” He was pointing at a small grey slate set into the floor. Only then did I look at the floor. It was a mosaic of similar slates, each carved with a motif or crest.
“Battleaxe Blenheims”, said my father. “That’s what they used to call us.” He was pointing at a slate on which was carved an axe inside a circle with the numbers 105. He stood up. “That’s my old squadron crest. 105 Squadron, the Battleaxe Blenheims”. He glanced around the church. “All those men, all those men. Thank goodness they have something to remind people of their passing.” He looked at me. “Come on, son. Let’s go. I’ll buy you lunch”.
Then he took me to a restaurant off Fleet Street and for the first time he began to tell me about his time with RAF Bomber Command at War.