Fighter Boys

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.

"Yes, sir."

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 up yet."

"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 human intervention.

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 sloppy salute.

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 you're finished."

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 here."

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 he approached.

"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 area.

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 night."

Langly groaned.  "God's sake.  Don't they realise how much these things cost?"

"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 own side."

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."

"Yes, sir."

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 ground.

"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 her, okay?"

When Frohike and Langly reached 122, Byers was already climbing into the cockpit.
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 the sky.  

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 shove.

"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 at him.

"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 135?"

"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.  

"Morning, sir."

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 join him.

"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."

Byers nodded.

"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.

"Sorry, sir."

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 your job."


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 looked amused.

"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 hanging off.  

"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 no problem."

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.  

Langly groaned.


"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 us.--"

"--Ah the mighty Spitfire squadron--can't even find their own bombers to play with--"

"--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 view.

"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 sun.--"

"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 for you."

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 plane."

"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 down.


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 plane coming?"

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 all."

"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 demonstrate.

"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 his shoulder.

"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 he slept.


Langly desisted and flopped back on his pillow, drawing the bedclothes up around

"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 of
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?"

Jimmy beamed.  

Langly looked darkly at Frohike.  "Told you there was something suspicious about her."

"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 night."

"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.  Hollins sighed.

"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 know better."

"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 sabotage attempt.

"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.  "Obviously."

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 the silence.

"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 refuse.

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?" he challenged.

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 anyway."

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.

"Clear prop!"

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 ground.

"Jimmy get on the tail!" Frohike bellowed.  "Before we damn well groundloop the thing!"

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 ahead.  

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 this frequency?"

"--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 in.

"--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 cloud.  

"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 and followed.  

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 lost speed.

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 in.


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 ate afternoon.

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 lone gunman."


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