By Leia Fee
20th June 1942, RAF Pembrey
"Pilot Officer John Byers?" The booming tone made it more of a statement
that a question and Byers turned to see a tall, sandy haired man striding
along the path towards him. A quick scan of the uniform, and a guess
brought Byers to attention as he identified him as Flight Lieutenant Hollins,
the squadron leader.
Hollins waved the salute away.
"Sorry I didn't get to meet you when you arrived. Bit of a hoohaa up
at Group--I got called away."
"Oh, that's all right, sir."
Hollins gestured for him to continue along the path. "Never mind the
'sir'. You won't have time for it once we're in the air anyway.
So, you've settled in all right?"
Byers nodded. "Yes, thankyou."
"Good. Good. Done much flying? I hear it's been quiet the
past few days.
"No. Um, I mean, yes, it's been quiet. I haven't actually been
"Ah well, we've had a few of the kites go u/s on us so we've been waiting
on the repair lads." He paused. "Actually they should be done
on at least one of them by now. How about you take her up for an airtest?
Put her through her paces, check everything's up to scratch again.
You can take the time to have a look round when you're up there too, get
a chance to learn the local landmarks--you'll want to do that as son as possible,
we get some wicked sea mists here and it's easy to find yourself lost."
Byers nodded. "I saw. It was down to the deck the night I got
here." He'd nearly ended up in the sea just getting to the base by
car, in spite of the driver's protests that he knew exactly where he was
going. "Never seen a fog like it."
"Well you definitely will again. You up on your instrument flying?"
"Yes, s--. Yes."
Hollins smiled at the aborted 'sir'. "It's 'Jack'."
"Right." Byers smiled back at him. "I'll go have a look at this
plane, shall I?"
"You do that. UM122. She's out at dispersal. Far end of
the field. I see on your record you've flown Mark V's before so you
shouldn't have any trouble with her. See you later." Hollins
gave a casual wave as he turned away towards the operations building.
Byers continued past the row of buildings until he reached the airfield proper.
It was a warm, almost windless day and with most of the squadron inside eating
dinner or napping the field was quiet. In the mid-afternoon heat, even
the big Wellington bombers looked sleepy, as they sat silently beside of
the taxiway. Byers smiled at the whimsy of the thought as he passed
them and moved on towards the neat row of Spitfires. If the bombers
had looked sleepy then the fighters looked alert, almost jaunty, with their
noses tilted skywards and the slender landing gear giving the impression
that the whole plane might just spring into the air any minute--with or without
On the still air the sound of a very vocal debate slowly became audible.
Byers continued down the field and eventually identified the source of the
argument as the two ground crew working on the last plane in the line.
His heart sank slightly as the prospect of an afternoon's flying faded.
If the ground crew were still working on the plane then it obviously wasn't
as fixed as Hollins had thought.
The argument didn't lessen in volume as he approached so he stepped around
the engine cowling lying on the grass and watched the two men for a moment.
In front of the exposed innards of the plane a short, stocky man stood on
a trestle, gesticulating vigorously with a spanner. The effect was
utterly lost on his workmate who was kneeling on the wing with the upper
half of his body buried in the cockpit.
"And I'm telling you it's not my electrics!" Another jab with the spanner
accompanied the words, before Byers had made up his mind to interrupt.
The response from the depths of the cockpit was muffled but included something
about "Brand new!" and "Bloody wiring!"
Byers cleared his throat. "Gentlemen?"
The spanner-wielder stuffed the tool in a large pocket, jumped to the ground,
and hastily composed himself into something approaching 'at attention', although
the appraising look on his face didn't quite fit with the deferential pose.
The taller man on the wing looked up, revealing sharp features and an untidy
mop of blond hair. He climbed down and joined his partner in a rather
Byers shook his head at them. "That's all right. Carry on.
I just came to see how it was going. I'm going to do the airtest when
Both men relaxed and the shorter of the two nodded.
"Well we're just about done. Langly was just fitting another new radio
and that's the last of it."
Langly gave him a sideways glance at the slight stress on 'another'.
"Yeah, just got to hook it up to Frohike's electrics and we're all finished
This time the sideways glance was in the opposite direction and Byers got
the impression that this was an old and well practised routine.
"All right. I'll leave you to get on with it. How long do you
think it'll be?"
The two men glanced at each other.
"'Bout half hour?" Frohike said.
Langly nodded. "Half hour sounds right."
Half an hour and a cup of tea later, Byers retuned to the plane. Both
men were sitting in the shade beneath the Spitfire's wings squabbling half
heartedly over a packet of biscuits. They both got to their feet as
"All ready to roll," Frohike said.
"Good." Byers smiled.
He stepped briskly up onto the wing and swung himself into the cockpit.
He settled himself into his seat making a mental tick list as he did so.
Parachute. Straps. Cockpit checks. Satisfied that
everything was as it should be, he leaned out and glanced around before calling
loudly, "Clear prop!"
Frohike waved back at him and Langly gave him a thumbs up sign. Byers
glanced over his instruments once more. Good to go.
An echoing "Contact" in confirmation from Frohike, and Byers flicked the
ignition, still chanting the cockpit drill in his mind. Mags.
Starter. Booster. The engine coughed into life and settled
into a steady growl.
Byers ran through the remaining checks as fast as he could, not wanting to
keep the engine running too long on the ground. In this heat overheating
was all too easy. He completed the checks, taxyed carefully out towards
the runway and turned the fighter's nose into the light wind.
The oddly mismatched ground crew walked alongside, one at each wingtip, guiding
and steadying the aircraft. Byers waved them clear and eased forward
the throttle. Between his cautious, slow acceleration and the hot,
heavy air, he'd used up most of the runway before the bumping along the ground
gave way to a smooth climb away. He did a gentle circuit above the
field and saw the two men below give him a wave before returning to the dispersal
Smiling with the simple pleasure of being airborne again Byers turned away
from the airfield and sent the little plane into a climb. She responded
smoothly, no trace left of whatever complaint had confined her to the ground
and the attentions of the mechanics. Byers felt the air begin to go
thin and, after a glance at his altimeter, levelled off. Even up here
it was too hot to start fiddling with oxygen masks when he didn't really
need to. This was more than high enough to test the plane's performance.
He tried a couple of rolls and a spin with no problems then dropped into
a stomach-tightening spiral dive, with a careful eye on the airspeed indicator.
Just before maximum speed he pulled up and climbed easily away.
Fuel levels were still looking good so he decided to take Hollins' advice
and do a little sightseeing. He descended back to a more practicable
height for landmark-spotting and wandered along the estuary and up the coast.
Dire warnings from flight school about the impact damage of bird strikes
echoed in his head and he turned to stay well clear of a flock of seagulls
circling the mudflats.
Another glance at the fuel levels told him he had about an hour's flying
before he had to head for home and he was certainly going to make the most
of it. The sun was pouring over the quiet coastline and he knew he
wouldn't get too many trips that would be this peaceful.
Frohike shaded his eyes with a hand as he watched the Spitfire climb away.
He turned to Langly who was also squinting up at the diminishing silhouette
and shoved his shoulder.
"Come on then. Let's get some work done."
Langly pulled a face. "Thought our work just took off?"
Frohike smirked. "Still plenty to do. 'Specially for you.
The illustrious Flight Sergeant Rees pranged 135, landing in the dark last
Langly groaned. "God's sake. Don't they realise how much these
"More than the pilots. That's what Hollins told Rees anyway.
He really chewed him out over it."
Langly winced. "Ouch. Much damage?"
"Bent a few bits, yeah."
The throaty growl of a Merlin engine made them both look back up at the sky
as a Hurricane turned overhead and joined the circuit.
"Another one for the bomber boys to shoot up," Frohike commented.
Langly shook his head. "Rather them than me. Bad enough getting
shot at by the bloody Hun, never mind being used for target practice by your
Frohike shrugged. "Someone's got to. Not like the bomber crews
can just 'borrow' a couple of Messerschmitts to train with is it?"
"Suppose not." Langly didn't look convinced. Somehow Frohike
suspected he'd actually preferred the frantic, desperate days of two summers
ago, when it seemed like 'scramble' had been called every ten minutes and
the fighters were barely ever on the ground.
"So what d'you think of the new pilot?"
Frohike shrugged again. "He seems fine. Ask me after he brings
122 back down in one piece."
Langly response was cut off by the sudden appearance of Flt. Lt. Hollins.
"Are you two busy?"
"Just going to look at 135, sir."
"Never mind that for now. Could you see to the Hurricane that's just
come in? It's for the Air Gunnery lads. Do me a favour and see
the ferry pilot gets a cuppa--it must have been a long flight from Cosford
in this heat."
Frohike and Langly did an about turn and headed back to the runway where
the Hurricane was just starting to taxy towards dispersal. With the
ease of long habit they took up their usual positions at the wingtips and
guided the plane towards the area used by the training squadrons. As
they came to a halt the pilot waved a thankyou before popping the canopy
open and climbing out. Frohike and Langly both stared as a slender
figure stepped out onto the wing, pulled off the leather flying helmet and
shook out a cascade of thick black hair. The woman smiled and raised
her eyebrows in amusement at their surprise.
Frohike recovered his composure first and stepped forward, reaching out a
hand to help her down. Instead she shoved a sheaf of papers into it
and after a glance at Langly who was still staring, jumped lightly to the
"Paperwork. She flies a little left wing heavy but it's not bad."
She looked around at the sleepy airfield. "Still I suppose if she was
in frontline condition they wouldn't be sending her down here."
Langly bristled at that, despite his derisory comments about the trainees
only a moment before. The woman ignored it. Frohike shook his
head, not sure whether he was more irritated by her attitude or amused at
Langly's reaction. He slapped the paperwork back in the woman's hand
and pointed towards the operations building.
"There's Ops. The Mess is just along from it if you want some tea."
She raised her eyebrows and walked off, Langly scowled after her.
Frohike smirked,watching the retreating back appreciatively.
Langly saw his expression, gave a snort and turned back to the aeroplane.
"I'll give her 'left wing heavy'. Probably just her bloody flying."
Langly spent the rest of the day and good part of the evening tinkering with
and fussing over the Hurricane's airframe. When it got dark he enlisted
Frohike to help him haul it into the hangar so he could continue to work
after the blackout.
"You're wasting your time, Langly." Frohike sat perched on a starter cart
watching him. "She's just old. Miss Ferry Pilot First Officer
Yves Adele Harlow had that much right. Just fill out the snag sheet
and let it be."
Langly stuck his head out from under the trailing edge of the wing.
"Oh we know her by name already do we?"
"It was on the paperwork," Frohike pointed out, defensively.
Langly's snarky response was drowned out by a sudden shrieking roar followed
by an almighty bang. Reddish light illuminated the hangar even through
the backout blinds and Frohike ducked as he ran towards the door in time
to see the bank and climb of a dive bomber silhouetted against the incendiaries.
Belatedly, the air raid siren sounded. Frohike and Langly started automatically
towards the dispersal area as Hollins sprinted from the operations building.
"Get these planes off the ground!" he shouted, as pilots and groundcrew ran
in all directions. "They're hitting the munitions factory but we're
a damned tempting target sitting here!"
He paused for a moment surveying the semi-controlled chaos engulfing the
field. He spotted Frohike and Langly and called out to them.
"That Hurricane fit to fly?"
Frohike gave him a hasty nod and gestured at the hangar, hardly pausing in
his run towards dispersal.
"Get your Spit airborne then get the Hurri ready to go. I'll take her
up." He spun away to shout across the field again. "Rees!"
A tall man turned quickly from where he was helping one of the pilots into
his parachute harness.
"You know which one's my Spitty?" Hollins demanded. Rees nodded and
Hollins jabbed a thumb in the direction of dispersal. "Try not to break
When Frohike and Langly reached 122, Byers was already climbing into the
Langly grabbed a starter cart and hastily connected it. The engine
stuttered then roared into life and Byers gave them a thumbs up. Nose
into wind and he was airborne almost before they'd released the wings.
Langly grumbled in between gasps as they sprinted back to the hangar and
the waiting Hurricane.
"Just whose bloody stupid idea was it to put a sodding weapons factory right
on top of an airfield anyway?"
Frohike didn't spare the breath to answer as they reached the hangar and
grabbed a wingtip each to wheel the fighter out.
Another cough-roar settled into a steady growl and Hollins waved them clear
as they reached the nearest runway.
The newly arrived Hurricane was the last plane to get airborne and both Frohike
and Langly flopped to the ground in relief. Against the orange horizon
the flights of fighters and bombers climbed away to the relative safety of
A few hundred yards away a collection of huts went up with a crash and a
roar of flame and they jumped back to their feet.
"That was a bit too close." Langly winced.
As they made for the shelters Frohike laughed suddenly and gave Langly a
"You know this is your fault?"
"You were the one complaining that it was too quiet here since we'd gone
over to training!"
21st June 1942
The day dawned as hot as those previous and all over the base sleepy crews
blinked and squinted in the early morning sun. It had been gone 3am
before all the planes were safely back on the ground after the attack and
most of the ground crews had worked long after that, refuelling and preparing
them for the morning.
In the Mess, Frohike nursed an oversized cup of tea and fondly imagined he
was still in bed. On the other side of the hall a door banged loudly
and several people winced. The culprit turned out to be a bleary eyed
but grinning Langly, prompting one of the other riggers to lob a bread roll
"And what are you smirking about this morning?" Frohike asked as Langly
dropped into a chair beside him and helped himself to a large gulp of tea.
"Just saw Hollins outside." Langly's smirk grew even broader.
"He wanted to know why the snag sheet on that Hurri says there's a problem
when she flew sweet as a bird for him last night."
"Wonderful." Frohike responded dryly. "See if you can do as good
a job on 135."
Langly groaned, having obviously forgotten all about that waiting job.
Frohike gave him a smug grin then gulped the last of his tea and stood up.
"All right then. Better get started I suppose."
Langly nodded reluctantly.
Outside, smoke still curled from one of the dispersal huts that had been
hit in the previous night's attack.
"So what have we got today?" Langly asked. "Besides un-bending 135?"
"Uh, one standing patrol, two flights for the training crews and an hour
or so on readiness in case the bomber escort needs reinforcements.
Busy enough for you?"
Langly shrugged. "Better than sitting around isn't it?" He gestured
at a couple of the pilots who were half-heartedly playing a game of cards
they had laid out on a wing.
Frohike glanced across the field. "Or dozing off on your feet."
He pointed to where the new pilot, Byers, was leaning lightly against a prop,
his eyes fixed on the horizon. Frohike frowned. "Early for him
to be out here, isn't it? I wonder if something's wrong with 122."
Langly shrugged. "Shouldn't be. She checked out fine after they
got back last night."
"Yeah. Well I think I'll just go check anyway. Get started on
"Okay." Langly, for once, didn't seemed inclined to argue the toss
and wandered off in the direction of the hangar while Frohike continued across
the field to Byers.
Byers didn't seem to notice his approach and Frohike cleared his throat loudly
as he got closer.
Byers turned looking startled but composed himself quickly. "Good morning."
He looked briefly back at the morning sky before sighing slightly and giving
Frohike his attention.
"Something I can do for you?" he asked.
"No, sir." Frohike hesitated, feeling suddenly as though he was intruding.
"I just wondered if something was the matter?"
"What? Oh. No. No, nothing's wrong." He paused, and
added almost under his breath, "Not with the plane."
Frohike hesitated again, not wanting to pry, but concerned in spite of himself.
"Are you all right, sir?"
Byers turned, hesitated himself, then sighed heavily. "No," he admitted.
"No, not really."
After a moment he slowly lowered himself to the ground and leaned back against
the undercarriage of the plane. He patted the grass for Frohike to
"Is there anything I can do?" Frohike sat down.
Byers smiled faintly. "Though you were supposed to look after the planes,
not the pilots?"
Frohike shrugged. "Well they're not much good one without the other
are they? Sir."
Byers made a face. "Drop the 'sir' can you?"
"Sure, if you like."
"That raid last night," he started after a moment. "They hit a number
of different targets, not just us. Cities, airfields..." He stared
back up at the sky. "Harbours."
"Someone you knew?" Frohike guessed.
Byers didn't lower his eyes. "My father. Hollins got a call from
Southampton this morning."
"I'm sorry." Frohike reached out to put a hand on his shoulder.
"He was in the Navy?"
"Merchant Navy." Byers lowered his gaze and gave a sharp bark of a
laugh. "Actually he was furious I didn't go the same way. We
hadn't spoken for... some time."
"Even so." Frohike shrugged. "It's still hard. Families
are like that. With 'em or without 'em it's never simple. So
how come you decided to fly instead of follow daddy?"
Byers smiled genuinely at that and looked fondly at the Spitfires poised
along the edge of the field.
"Once, at a friend's estate, I saw a falconer. He had this peregrine
he'd trained. Have you seen them flying? High and fast and sharp,
like gravity makes a special exception just for them. And this air
of... I don't know... Not disdain exactly but an aloofness. It wasn't
a tame thing--but it had chosen to given its loyalty to these poor grounded
creatures. First time I saw a Spitfire that's what it reminded me of
and I just knew that's where I wanted to be."
His eyes strayed back to the sky and after a moment he laughed shortly.
"Guess I never grew out of that kid's dream of being able to fly."
He looked back at Frohike. "So what about you? Any family?"
Frohike shrugged. "Nothing so complicated. I really did just
follow the family line. Dad worked at Hawkers and we lived pretty much
on top of the factory. Grew up with aeroplane engines almost a lullaby
in our house, sort of the background to everything else, you know?
Didn't even really think about doing anything else."
He would have continued but the tranquil mood was abruptly shattered by Langly
bounding up and sticking his head under the wing.
"There you are! What you skiving here for?" He seemed to notice
Byers somewhat belatedly and straightened up as much as he could without
braining himself on the underside of the wing.
Byers waved dismissively. "Don't worry about it. Have a seat.
We were just talking about how we ended up here."
"Oh." Langly flopped down beside them. "Well actually I wanted
Frohike laughed. "Yeah, Langly wanted to be a pilot."
"Trouble is I'm blind as a bat and threw up all over the instrument panel
the first time I went up in a plane," Langly said blithely. "So now
I just look after tails and wings and things and let someone else worry about
them once they get off the ground."
The discussion was interrupted for the second time as Hollins approached
and ducked to peer at them.
"Nice little mothers' meeting here?"
This time Langly did bang his head as he jumped to his feet but Hollins only
"Just came to let you know the bomber lads asked if we could fit in an extra
jaunt with them this morning. We're flying in half an hour."
Hollins headed off towards the other crews and Byers climbed to his feet.
"Ought to get some breakfast then if I'm flying." He smiled.
"Thanks, you two."
Frohike smiled back. "See you later."
Hazy sunlight filtered into the almost empty hangar, where the damaged Spitfire
sat waiting for repair. Langly whistled through his teeth as he walked
around and ducked underneath to peer at the crumpled undercarriage.
"Ouch. What did he do to her?" he asked Frohike.
"Dunno. Thought the ground was a few feet lower than it really was
by the looks of things."
The left oleo leg was bent so far out of true that the wingtip on that side
touched the floor. Langly moved his hand through the air, trying to
picture the crash. The wing had obviously hit the ground at some point--the
skin was curled back from the spars beneath and the control surfaces were
"Looks like he came down out of balance, grounded the wingip then tipped
up onto the prop. Hell of a groundloop."
He pointed as he spoke and Frohike picked up a broken propeller blade from
where it lay on the floor and shook his head.
"Not sure this is even fixable."
"Oh ye of little faith." Langly ran his hand along the damaged wing.
"That oleo and the prop'll need replacing."
"The requisitions have been put in. We've got a prop in stores but
we're waiting for the oleo to get sent down."
"Great. This wingtip looks worse than it is. I'll have that sorted
Frohike looked sceptical. "Okay. Well I'll start checking out
the engine. Took a nasty knock getting dumped on its nose like that."
Langly spent a few moments fiddling with the wireless before gathering his
tools and the requisition forms for the other spare parts he needed.
"D'you have to have that turned up so loud?" Frohike asked irritably.
"It's too early in the morning for that racket."
"That's not a racket," Langly protested. "Besides I think better with
a bit of background music."
"It's a racket." Frohike stepped up onto a trestle to start removing
the engine cowling. "Give me a hand with this."
Langly gave the volume knob a sharp twist before jumping up beside Frohike
who gave him a halfhearted shove. "Brat."
"Hiya!" A cheerful voice rang from the hangar door.
"Yeah. S'me. I've been sent to help you guys out today."
"Wonderful." Frohike muttered without looking up.
"Here." Langly jumped to the ground.
"Get this prop," He scribbled the details down. "From stores.
And try not to get lost on the way."
Jimmy grinned amiably, apparently quite unaware he'd just been insulted,
and wandered off.
Byers scanned the sky around him as he listened to the radio traffic.
In spite of the sunshine the air was hazy and visibility was proving a problem.
"--See 'em yet?--"
"--Negative. No contact.--"
"--Well they can't be that far--they only took off a few minutes ahead of
"--Ah the mighty Spitfire squadron--can't even find their own bombers to
"--All right, don't piss about.--" Hollins' voice cut in, though he
didn't sound too annoyed. "--Let's have a bit of radio silence here
'til we find them please.--"
A flicker of movement caught Byers' eye and he banked right to get a better
"Green 2. I see them," he transmitted. "2 o'clock. About
a thousand feet down."
"--Well spotted, Green 2.--" Hollins' voice again. "--All right.
They were starting to get pretty accurate yesterday. This time we're
going to run high and fast. See how they do trying to aim against the
"Roger, Green Leader."
"That pretty lady pilot's back again," Jimmy commented as he returned.
"So?" Langly peered round as he sat in the cockpit. "Get round the
back and tell me if the control surfaces are working."
"She brought a new bomber in." Jimmy strolled across the hangar and
stood beside the tailplane.
"So? Left aileron."
"She's talking to the adjutant now."
"So? Ailerons, Jimmy! On the wings!"
"Huh? Oh. Yeah looks fine."
Langly sighed. "Fine. Elevator."
At the front of the fighter, Frohike snorted with amusement at he tightened
a nut. "Looks good from this end."
"Good. Rudder, Jimmy."
"She's coming over here."
"Rudder, Jimmy!" In exasperation Langly leaned out of the cockpit.
"Frohike!" he pleaded.
Frohike glanced round. "Yeah, she is."
Langly threw up his hands and slumped in his seat. "Wonderful."
"Boys?" a voice drawled from the entrance. "I think I have something
Jimmy smiled broadly at her. "That's great. What?"
She gave him a disdainful look. "A leg."
"My oleo!" Langly brightened up.
"Apparently. The said as I was coming this way anyway, I could drop
it off. Is someone going to sign for it?"
Langly climbed out onto the wing and jumped down. "Give it here then."
She stared at him as though he'd just demanded the moon. "It's in the
"Do you need help carrying it?" Jimmy asked.
"That might be an idea, yes. Unless you think it's going to stroll
over here by itself."
Jimmy's smile faltered a bit at her tone.
"Oh let's go get it then." Frohike dropped what he was doing and climbed
The banter among the pilots did not stop once they returned to the ground
and Byers laughed as one of the other from his section ran yelling across
the dispersal area in the fading light.
"I don't want to be a Messerschmitt next time. Think I'll be a Stuka
instead." He crooked his arms as wings and gave an alarming shriek.
"Brilliant--then you can dive straight into the ground and save us all from
listening to you," someone else suggested. "And speaking of flying
into the ground, there's Reesy now."
"Hiya, Reesy," Byers smiled as the usual jokes flew about. "How's your
Rees shrugged, a resigned look on his face. "Ground crews have been
at it all day. Still got to fit a new prop."
Byers made a sympathetic face. "Too bad."
Rees shook his head. " I ballsed it up good and proper."
The would-be Stuka laughed. "Hey, least you didn't land in the estuary
like that Jerry a while back, couldn't tell a river from a runway."
Byers joined the laughter as they headed towards the Mess. Langly and
Frohike waved to him as they walked past. They seemed to have acquired
a new helper who he vaguely recognised as one of the latest crop of apprentices.
"Goodnight," Byers called. They waved back, the new lad grinning hugely.
22nd June 1942
Byers banked high away from the bomber beneath him and squinted against the
glare from the setting sun. He was craning his neck, searching the
sky for the rest of his squadron when someone flew over above him, rolled
over and descended to join off his right wingtip.
"--He get you, Green 2?--"
Byers glanced across at the other Spitfire, whose pilot grinned and waved.
"If he didn't then his rear gunner wants his eyesight testing. I was
right on top of him before I opened up." Byers glanced down at his
fuel gauge. "I'm about done here anyway.
"--Already? You really must have been throwing her around. Hope
you got some of them to show for it.--"
Byers laughed. "We'll see when we get back. Green Leader, this
is Green 2, I'm out of juice, heading for home."
"--I gathered,-" Hollins' voice came dryly over the radio. "--We'll
see you back there. And if it wouldn't be too much trouble to you,
Green 3, could you get your arse back in formation with the rest of us?--"
Byers was flying close enough to see his companion pull a face of mock alarm
before banking steeply and turning to join the others.
Left alone, Byers laughed again then throttled back to a more economical
cruising speed and headed back towards the airfield.
"Pembrey tower, this is Green 2 requesting permission to land."
"--Confirmed, Green 2, runway 2-7.--"
Byers frowned, puzzled. The wind was blowing almost straight across
that runway. He toggled the radio again.
"Confirm, tower. Runway 2-7?"
"--That's confirmed. 2-7--"
Byer shrugged and slid carefully into the approach. He landed with
a slight bounce and had taxyed almost all the way back to dispersal before
Langly and Frohike, still with the new lad in tow, ran over to gently steer
the aircraft the last few feet. Langly jumped up onto the wing to help
Byers with his straps and parachute. On the ground Frohike gave the
younger man, who was staring expectantly at the sky, a sharp nudge.
"Jimmy, I don't know what you're expecting but not a soul off-base knows
it's here yet!"
Byers climbed to the ground, frowning at this unexplained remark.
"Knows what's here?" he asked.
"You don't know yet?" Jimmy lowered his eyes from the sky to stare at Byers.
"Don't be stupid." Langly jumped down behind him. "Like they're
going to announce it over the radio where anyone could hear." He grinned
at Byers. "You missed all the excitement."
"Apparently," Byers said patiently. "But I still don't know what excitement."
Frohike smirked. "Walk this way."
Byers followed as Frohike led them back towards the runways. A suspicion
began to form in Byers' mind.
"Has this got something to do with way the tower had me land into a crosswind?"
Frohike came to a stop and pointed.
The reason the windward runway was out of bounds was immediately obvious.
A small plane sat square in the middle of it, little more than two thirds
of the way along. Had Byers not been totally occupied with keeping
from being blown over sideways he'd have seen it instantly when landing.
A small crowd was gathered around it, and he recognised the tall figure of
the station adjutant in the centre of them.
"Someone have an accident?" he asked before thinking, as slowly the subtle
wrongness to the picture filtered into his brain. Frohike and Langly
were both looking at him expectantly as though waiting for him to work it
out. He stared at the fighter. That was what was wrong.
Something in the shape of it. A stolid-looking, almost bowlegged aircraft,
there was something about the lines that was unfamiliar, yet recognisable.
Byers started suddenly as the picture before him suddenly clicked into focus.
"It's one of theirs," he said, in the moment he realised it.
Langly nodded. "And you'll never guess which!"
Byers took a few paces forward intending to have a much closer look.
Frohike caught his arm.
"It's no go," he said, resignation not quite drowning out the disappointment
in his voice. "Nobody but the brass and the police have been allowed
anywhere near it."
"We tried," Langly added.
Byers hadn't taken his eyes off the fighter. "It really is isn't it?"
he murmured. "A Focke-Wulf 190."
"The Butcher Bird," Jimmy proclaimed with unrestrained excitement.
Langly groaned at the melodrama in his tone.
"You ever come across them? Up there?" Frohike jerked his head skywards
and looked at Byers.
Byers nodded slowly. "Flying escort over the other side of the Channel."
Byers paused and shook his head. "All we ever managed was to hold them
off long enough for the bombers to run for it."
He shook his head vigorously, as if he could shake free the memories of far
too many friends shot down by the lethal little aircraft now sitting so sedately
on the runway.
"So what happened? He crashed?"
"Nuh-uh." Frohike was smirking again. "He landed here.
Pleased as punch he was, 'til he realised this wasn't actually France after
"Found the wrong Channel," Langly joined in with the explanation. "'Bristol'
not 'English'. Thought he was home free--"
"Sergeant Jeffreys ran from the control tower with his pistol!" Wide-eyed,
Jimmy interrupted to continue the story.
"Flare gun," Langly cut back in. "First thing he could grab."
Jimmy ignored Langly's correction and carried on.
"He jumped up on the wing!" Jimmy leapt onto the wing of the Spitfire to
"Hey!" Langly protested at this liberty-taking with his carefully nursed
airframe. He hauled ineffectually at Jimmy's ankle, making him stumble
back to the ground and cutting off his recitation.
"Anyway, " Frohike continued, glaring at the pair of them. "Once Mr
Hun The Pilot saw a Very pistol aimed at his head he figured out pretty damn
quick that this wasn't a Luftwaffe airfield after all."
"They say he tried to blow up the plane," Jimmy rejoined the conversation,
still wide-eyed. "Kill himself."
Langly snorted. "If he ever gets home, he'll be lucky if his superior's
don't do it for him."
Byers had to nod in agreement. "Command are going to go through the
roof over this. We've never managed to shoot one down where we could
get at it." He shook his head in amazement. "To have one land
here. Intact. It's--" he trailed off.
"You'd never believe it, would you?" Frohike shrugged. He turned to
Langly who was still scuffling with Jimmy and raised his voice. "Come
on then, let's get this kite seen to before it gets dark. It's going
to be bedlam once the rest of the flight gets back."
That was probably true, Byers realised. The gossip in the Mess tonight
was going to be on a single topic that was for certain.
23rd June 1942
"Hey, wake up!" a voice hissed.
Langly turned his head further into his pillow but an insistent hand shook
"Come on, wake up."
"G'way." Langly opened his sleep-sticky eyes a fraction and squinted
across the room. The darkness was still the unbroken black of night,
not yet the diffuse murk of daylight filtered through the blackout blinds.
"Not morning yet."
"It's 2am." The shaking turned into a firm yank on his arm. "That's
why you've got to come see."
Langly rolled over and opened his eyes all the way to see a dimly outlined
face almost touching his.
"Jesus! Jimmy!" The shock snapped Langly fully awake. He
swatted at Jimmy with an arm made numb by being tucked under his head while
Langly desisted and flopped back on his pillow, drawing the bedclothes up
"Go away, Jimmy."
"But you've got to see this!"
Langly groaned. "Ohh, what?"
"Come on. Get dressed."
Jimmy hurried back outside, leaving Langly to consider whether the temptation
curling back up was worth the hassle of having Jimmy come bounding back in
and possibly rousing the whole barracks. After some consideration he
reluctantly crawled out of bed and reached for his clothes.
Outside, Frohike was standing in front of Jimmy, delivering a dire warning
of what would happen if he'd been got out of bed for nothing. To Langly's
surprise, Byers was there too. He looked tired and cold but was apparently
reserving judgement on this little excursion until he'd seen what Jimmy was
so worked up about.
"Come on, then." Jimmy strode off ahead of them. "And be quiet."
Langly gave a snort. "Us be quiet, he says!"
Frohike rolled his eyes but no one commented as they followed Jimmy across
the field towards the runways.
"Woah back a minute," Langly suddenly came to a stop as he realised where
they were heading. "Just what d'you think you're doing? We get
caught wandering round that Focke-Wulf in the middle of the night and our
feet won't touch the ground, they'll arrest us so fast!"
Jimmy turned back towards him. "But that's it exactly. There's
already someone wandering around."
"Guards?" Langly suggested, "Sentries?" He didn't quite manage to contain
his irritation. He wasn't exactly at his best when woken suddenly,
and this early morning jaunt was not making him any happier.
Jimmy nodded, oblivious to the sarcasm. "She was talking to them."
Frohike snapped round to look at Jimmy. "She? This wouldn't be
our lady pilot friend would it?"
Langly looked darkly at Frohike. "Told you there was something suspicious
"Not liking you is hardly a hanging offence, Langly." Frohike
smirked. Langly pulled a face at him. He wasn't the only one
who was crotchety when awoken.
"When did she turn up anyway?" Langly turned to Byers. "She wasn't
here when you landed was she?"
Byers frowned. "I don’t know. I didn't notice any new planes.
She could have arrived afterwards I suppose."
"ATA pilots aren't supposed to fly in the dark," Jimmy announced as though
this proved his case conclusively.
"She could have got lost," Byers said reasonably.
"So why's she hanging 'round the fighter then?" Frohike was starting
to sound convinced that something was up.
"Oh come on!" Langly protested. " Every pilot, erk, and paperpusher
on this base has been trying to sneak a peek--that's hardly proof of anything!"
"Keep it down will you!" Byers hissed with an alarmed expression. "Whatever
reasons she'd got for being out here, we don't have. You want to get
us all locked up?"
"She could be a spy! A saboteur! A--" Jimmy groped around for
some other dastardly deed he could attribute to their late-night visitor.
"Shhh!" Langly hissed this time. "Look, she's a ferry pilot, right?"
The other three nodded. "Well maybe she's just flying it to Farnborough
or wherever it's going."
Byers looked sceptical. "I don't think they'd have a--"
"--Woman?" Frohike raised his eyebrows.
Byers ignored the interruption. "--Auxilary pilot fly a brand
new, unknown fighter anywhere. And certainly not in the middle of the
"Yes. I'd noticed it's the middle of the night." A voice from
behind made all four of them jump and spin round guiltily to see Hollins
staring at them.
"Should I ask why I have three ground crew and a pilot creeping about the
base at almost 3AM?"
Jimmy opened his mouth and Frohike kicked him promptly in the shin.
"Now see here. This landing has caused enough uproar around here with
anyone from my squadron getting arrested. All of you--" He stared
at Jimmy hopping on his bruised leg and sighed. "--most of you, should
"Sorry, sir," Byers spoke up.
Hollins shook his head, looking resigned. "You're the third group tonight.
Just get back to barracks and we'll say no more about it. All right?"
"Yes, sir," all four of them agreed readily, relief at not being arrested
on the spot outweighing any disappointment at not discovering some dramatic
"Um, sir?" Byers started cautiously as they turned to leave.
"If you're going to ask what I'm doing out here, Pilot Officer...
Don't." A suppressed smile tweaked the corners of Hollins' mouth as
he watched them
"Ah. Right." Byers carefully kept a straight face.
Jimmy looked deflated as they walked back across the airfield and Byers slapped
him on the shoulder.
"Come on, Jimmy. No one's going to try anything right under the squadron
leader's nose are they?"
"I suppose not." Jimmy still sounded disconsolate.
"We're just lucky he didn't tear us up right there!" Langly snapped.
"Next time you want to go chasing spies in the dark, Jimmy, do it without
getting me out of bed!"
Jimmy seemed unmoved by this outburst.
"I still think she was up to something."
Langly rolled his eyes. "I'm going back to bed."
"Come on, Langly," Frohike pushed him the next morning at breakfast.
"You've got to admit that if it'd have been anyone but Jimmy you'd have taken
it more seriously."
"He talks a load of rubbish, that's why! I still think--"
Langly fell silent and he cast a meaningful glance over Frohike's shoulder
to where Yves had just entered the Mess.
Frohike glanced over his shoulder. "I see she hasn't absconded with
our Focke-Wulf then.
Yves was dressed for flying and ate a quick breakfast, leaving before Langly
or Frohike were halfway through their own meals.
"In a hurry isn't she?" Frohike commented.
"Obviously she has important spy business to be getting on with." Langly
was now more concerned with scooping the last of the yolk out of his egg
than any grand conspiracies.
Frohike snorted with amusement and grabbed another slice of toast.
The morning passed quickly. Rees' damaged Spitfire was finally ready
to be flight tested following it's extensive repairs and after helping him
off Langly and Frohike settled down in the shade at the side of the hangar
to have what they decided was a well-earned rest.
"Hey, Jimmy, found any more suspicious types wandering round the base?"
Langly called mockingly as the younger man passed them. "We saw your
spy at breakfast this morning."
Jimmy turned to them, his face unexpectedly woebegone. "Haven't you
heard?" he asked. "She got shot down right after she left here."
"You what?" Langly stared at him, cold disbelief turning his stomach.
"How? What happened?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Anti-aircraft fire over Bristol. An accident."
"Our side? She was shot down by our side?"
Jimmy nodded slowly.
Frohike gave a long, slow whistle. "Nasty."
24th June 1942
That night Byers found himself unable to sleep. The weather had deteriorated
rapidly and he lay listening to the rain on the roof until almost 3am.
When it stopped and he still was no closer to sleep, he again found himself
wandering the base. A nagging guilt which he could find no good reason
for was settled uncomfortably about him, however firmly he told himself it
was nonsense. Being suspicious of someone doesn't get them shot
down, he told himself firmly.
He broke off his train of thought at a sound overhead. He looked up
and frowned. For a moment he'd been certain he'd heard an engine.
He shook his head. "You're up too late, Byers," he told himself out
loud. "Starting to hear things."
The wind picked up as he spoke and again he glanced up, this time certain
that he heard the familiar sound of wind against prop. He stared up
in near-disbelief as a familiar silhouette moved across the sky, a darker
shape against the grey cloudcover.
A Hurricane glided gently towards the landing field, engine silent and propeller
motionless, the wind whistling past the still blades, surprisingly loud in
"What on earth... " None of their squadron were missing, he knew that
for certain--Langly and Frohike, alng with most of the other ground crews,
always waited at dispersal until everyone was accounted for.
He followed the aeroplane, heading towards the far end of the field.
He kept to the shadows, though he felt slightly foolish at the precaution.
The Hurricane set down lightly even unpowered, and rolled to a stop.
The pilot stepped out of the cockpit and paused a moment on the wing, glancing
around. Byers froze, feeling as though his night had slipped even further
into unreality. Even in the dark, the confident bearing of the slim
figure was unmistakeable.
"Yves?" Byers turned then, and ran as fast and quietly as possible
back towards the barracks.
He came to a stop outside and paused for a moment to compose himself.
He didn't want to crash in and rouse the whole place.
Quietly he slipped inside and scanned the rows of sleepers. Jimmy was
easy to spot, sprawled across the cot on his back, snoring loudly.
Byers crept over and shook his shoulder. Jimmy opened his eyes and
blinked sleepily at him.
"Get up," Byers told him. "There's something going on."
Jimmy went wide-eyed but rose and dressed silently. Byers moved on
to wake Langly and Frohike who both scowled and muttered but didn't outright
Once they were all outside, Byers pointed to the barely visible shape of
the recently landed aeroplane.
"It's a Hurricane." Frohike stated the obvious. "Not entirely
unexpected at a flying station."
"It landed a few minutes ago," Byers told him. "Power off."
Langly stared across at it. "Shouldn't there be, you know, more yelling
and running about after a deadstick landing?"
"He didn't want to be heard," Frohike guessed.
"She," Byers corrected and had the satisfaction of watching both mens' eyes
get as wide as Jimmy's.
"You're not serious?" Langly asked incredulously.
"Who?" Jimmy flicked his gaze innocently between the other three.
Langly ignored him. "So what we going to do?"
"I don't know." Byers stared thoughtfully across the field towards
the neat row of Spitfire in the dispersal pens, then made an abrupt decision.
"I'm going to follow her. When she takes off."
They stared at him.
"That's just nuts," Langly said.
"She'll see you."
Byers smiled at Frohike's warning. Something he was certain of at last.
"No. She won't." He looked at the doubtful expressions.
"I can do it. She may be able to land with no engine but she certainly
can't take off that way. Over her own engine she won't hear mine.
Ground visibility from these kites is dreadful, she won't see me. Once
we're in the air..." He shrugged. "It's an overcast night--I
can dip in and out of cloud. I know all the blind spots. She’ll
never spot me."
He glanced across to where Yves was heading back to the Hurricane, then looked
back at the other. "So, do you want to know what's going on or not?"
Langly grinned. "Let's get you airborne."
Frohike didn't bother to nod but turned and strode towards dispersal.
"Engine's going to be cold, you'll have to take the start-up procedures slow.
She's going to have a head start on you."
Byers nodded "It won't be enough to matter. I can out-climb her
As Byers jumped lightly up onto the Spitfire's wing there was a splutter
then a roar as, across the field, the Hurricane engine came to life.
Langly glanced over his shoulder towards the barracks. "No one's going
to sleep through that."
"This'll take some explaining," Frohike muttered.
Light spilled from the doorway of the closest of the barracks as the Hurricane
tore down the strip and into the air.
"Contact!" Byers shouted urgently.
Frohike waved a confirmation and scurried around to grab a wingtip as the
engine spluttered reluctantly to life and the prop spun up to speed.
"Let's go, let’s go!" Langly yelled from the opposite side of the plane.
As Byers eased the throttle forward and the plane began to taxy, a gust of
wind caught it, snatching at the tailplane and almost lifting it off the
"Jimmy get on the tail!" Frohike bellowed. "Before we damn well groundloop
Jimmy ran along behind the tail and made a grab for it, ending up sprawled
on his belly over the elevator as Byers picked up speed. Langly and
Frohike scurrying at a swift trot alongside.
Byers snap-turned into the wind, so quickly that had it not been for Langly
hanging his whole weight on the wingtip the plane would undoubtedly have
toppled. As soon as he was straightened out he slid the throttle full
forward and waved the others clear. They flung themselves clear, landing
in confusion on the ground as Byes took off barely half way down the runway.
Picking themselves up they turned to face the now rather large crowd of people
standing in the light in front of the barracks.
"Any ideas how we explain this?" Langly asked as Hollins strode towards them,
his face flushed in anger.
"Not a clue," Frohike returned.
Byers flew along just above cloudbase, the dense greyness above him dissipating
to a ragged carpet below, through the gaps in which he could see the Hurricane
The weather was worsening again and in the darkness they were the only ones
flying. With nothing to do now but think, Byers was starting to become
concerned about what was going happen when his quarry finally landed.
Back at the base he hadn't paused to think plan far ahead, but he was hardly
likely to stay unnoticed once she was down on the ground.
Almost as soon as the thought occurred to him, the plane ahead began to descend.
Byers lingered where he was, banking gently in a large circle over the field
below. He was starting to regret the whole impulsive endeavour when
the radio suddenly crackled into life.
"--Byers?--" a voice hissed.
Byers thumbed the transmit switch. "Langly? How did you get on
"--Got the radio out of that Spit. The one Frohike broke. I fixed
it. It was still tuned to this freq so I thought it was worth a try.--"
There was an audible snort, presumably from Frohike, then another voice broke
"--What's going one there. Have you found where she's going?--"
That was Jimmy, sounding excited even in a whisper.
"I'm not sure. We went north, then west, lots of course changes.
Think we're somewhere on the Pembrokeshire coast. Near Fishguard, I'm
sure we overflew the harbour a few minutes ago. She's on the ground
now. What's going on back there?"
An audible giggle--Jimmy again--came over the headset.
"--We're hiding down in the dunes.--"
Frohike cut in. "--The whole base is in an uproar. We convinced
Hollins we'd just run out when we heard the engine and we didn't know what
happened, but no one's allowed off base and there's intelligence guys everywhere.--"
"Well they're no use there are they?" Byers allowed his frustration to show.
"She's up here, with God knows what information about that plane!"
"--Oh and we're supposed to just walk up and tell them that?--" Langly
had the radio again. "--How are we supposed to explain how we just
happened to discover this?--"
Byers glanced down as he banked around again. "Think of something,"
he said firmly. "She's taking off. There's a dark green car leaving
the field too. She met someone there." He climbed back into cloud
and hopefully out of sight again. "I can't follow them both.
We need someone on the ground here! Time to make up our minds whether
we're doing this or not."
There was a pause. Byers tried to guess the conversation taking place
back at Pembrey. Then Frohike's voice came on. "--Okay.
We'll talk to Hollins, he can call out the local home guard or something.
You follow Miss Ferry Pilot.--"
Byers smiled and dipped the nose of the Spitfire, sweeping through the low
"I'm on her tail."
Whether the creeping dawn cast some tell tale glare off his canopy or it
was simply nerves that made Yves glance around, Byers didn't know, but without
warning the Hurricane suddenly went into a steep ascent and disappeared into
the cloud layer. Almost without thinking Byers slammed the stick back
and the throttle forward and climbed after her.
Greyness engulfed him as he entered the thickest part of the cloud cover
and a minute that seemed like an hour passed before it thinned and he could
see where he was going again. Above and around him were towering cumulus
clouds. Below was the thick stratus he'd just broken though.
Somewhere in between was Yves, but scanning the sky, all he could see was
potential hiding places. He knew from experience how easily it was
to lose a pursuer in this almost unworldly environment. Between ground
and sky with neither visible it was notoriously difficult to orient yourself.
Pilots had collided with the enemy or their wingmates or come out of a cloud
to find themselves inverted and diving, having never noticed the transition.
Byers flicked his eyes back to the instrument panel. Artificial horizon.
Airspeed. He got to the vertical speed indicator and frowned.
Still climbing. He levelled off and swept his gaze across the sky once
more. A darker shape moved across the gun-grey face of a nimbus a few
hundred yards to the right and Byers reacted instantly.
Yves responded almost as fast, rolling inverted and pitching into an almost
vertical dive. Byers followed. She had a head start but Byers
knew he was flying a faster aircraft by a considerable margin. He almost
hesitated as she plunged back into the stratus, blind flying at that sort
of speed, was everything they warned you not to do at flight school.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment then tightened his grip on the stick
Like you told Frohike, he reminded himself. Now's the time
to decide how far we go with this.
They broke cloudbase into the suddenly dazzling dawn and Yves banked hard
left, Byers still a bare two hundred yards behind.
Abruptly the radio crackled and Byers jumped as, for the second time today,
he found his frequency interrupted. This time it was Yves' voice over
the radio, sounding faintly amused.
"--So what now, fighter boy? Going to shoot me down?--"
Again Byers realised how little he'd thought this through. He concentrated
on keeping up the pursuit, hoping that Frohike and Langly were doing their
bit down on the ground and would get him some help. He may be flying
the faster aircraft but the Hurricane had a greater range and hadn't had
to expend fuel flying around waiting for Yves to finish her deal. There
was only so much longer he could keep following.
"--Is that kite of yours even armed?--" Yves continued. "--You must
have taken off in quite a hurry.--"
"What are you doing, Yves?" Byers asked, ignoring her taunting. "Who
was that back at the field? A spy? A saboteur?"
He didn't expect a truthful answer of course but as long as she was talking
she wasn't wasn't flying aerobatics and forcing him to waste more fuel keeping
up with her.
"--Such a simple mind you have. It's almost endearing. I don't
supposed it's occurred to you that there are more people interested in the
technology that aircraft represents that just the military.--"
"Who were you meeting, Yves?" Byers persisted.
The answer came in a casual, noncommittal tone. "--A businessman.--"
Byers couldn't hide his contempt. "That's what this is about?
A quick profit?"
Yves voice sounded no less scornful when she replied. "--Oh don't be
naïve. You think war isn't good for business? You really
think people don’t make money out of it? I thought you were brighter
than that moronic ground crew of yours.--"
Byers would have protested but Yves was already continuing.
"You think your precious Spitfire would be anything more than some rich boy's
racing toy if war hadn't broken out? You think Supermarine or Hawkers
or Browning are charities now?"
Byers was momentarily lost for a response and before he could think of one
he found himself with more immediate problems as the engine spluttered on
the last of the fuel before stopping altogether. Yves' Hurricane drew
ahead as Byers watched his prop windmilling uselessly as the Spitfire slowly
Frustrated, Byers could only watched as Yves climbed back into the clouds.
He feathered the prop and dropped the nose of the Spitfire to settle into
a glide. He glanced at the radio. No point even calling for reinforcements
while Yves was listening on the frequency. She'd simply disappear by
the time they arrived.
Byers sighed and resigned himself to looking for a flat enough field to land
The field he eventually chose, proved to be six inches deep in mud following
the earlier downpour. By the time he had traipsed across it to the
small cluster of houses at the roadside, he was filthy, soaked, and freezing
in the chill of the early morning air. The lady who answered the door
took pity on him in spite of the unsociable hour and his bedraggled appearance
and provided hot tea, and a telephone for him to check in with the base to
report his position.
Dry clothes and breakfast made the night's events seem more remote and he
thanked his host and obtained directions to the Talbenny airfield where a
transport squadron who could take him home were based.
Between the country roads, erratic buses and the return of the foul weather
which kept most of the aircraft grounded, getting back to Pembrey took until
When he finally staggered in, Frohike, Langly, and Jimmy pounced on him the
moment he appeared.
"They got the guy she was meeting!" Jimmy announced in glee.
"Folders full of photos and drawing and specs, he had on him," Frohike elaborated.
"What about Yves?" Byers asked?
"Nothing." Langly shook his head. "They scrambled a flight from
Angle but didn't find a thing."
"Course they didn't," Frohike snorted. "One fighter in the this overcast.
Not a chance. Mind you, if she hadn't landed before that front came
in then there's probably nothing to find by now."
Jimmy looked distressed at that. "You don't think that do you?"
Byers shook his head thoughtfully. "Somehow she didn't seem the type
to get caught out by weather."
"Well they've shipped out Mr. Luftwaffe Pilot, to Fairwood, and someone's
coming down from Farnborough to shift the 190 tomorrow, so it's over one
way or the other."
Jimmy grinned. "For now!"
Langly rolled his eyes at the drama, but Jimmy didn't seem to notice.
"Wasn't it exciting though?"
"Oh brother," Frohike groaned.
" I mean we could be heros because of this! Just like Sergeant Jeffreys
when he captured that pilot!"
"Wonderful." Langly said sarcastically. "Just what this base needs--another