Saturday, September 3, 2016

Profile 124: "F" as flown by F/L John Wilkinson, 41 Squadron


I still can't believe what just happened.

"So you actually saw them?!"

"Oh yes!"

"Spitfires and Messerschmitts dogfighting above your head?!"

"Yes! They were (insert pause, wry smile) rather hard to miss." (he smirked, chortling at my artless* astonishment).

Break break.

The movie, "The Battle of Britain" was the first that I remember seeing—I think it was at some sort of old-film festival that our local theatre played.  It doesn't matter—from that moment, the movie took a permanent spot on my list of all-time-top-favorites; the thought of running into one's own airplane to roar off and fight the enemy was absolutely compelling to my little-boy brain.

Decades later, with a man who was there, I got to relive, not only one of the crucial moments of world history but someone who watched it unfold.  I was totally geeked out.

Anyway, back to the conversation.

"I wonder what I would do if I saw enemy airplanes flying above my city," I mused aloud.  But the silver-haired gentleman across the table didn't speak.  Instead, his eyes replied with the wordless expression of, "Thank God you only have to wonder about that and not actually experience it."

Hmmm.

In the next 2-3 weeks, we'll be releasing our "mini-documentary" of our conversation and sharing some of the extraordinary artifacts of his service as a fighter pilot with 41 Squadron. Indeed, though he was not old enough to fly during those dark days of 1940, by 1944, the man not only fought back, he did so with an uncanny lethality.

I know I always write, "Stay tuned" during these work-in-progress posts but in this case, I'm standing up and hollering.

"STAY TUNED!"

Me, John and Cinematographer (and OGTA editor) Dalton Coffey.
This is SO legit...
*Cut me some slack.  I never expected to get to actually draw an RAF Spitfire let alone talk to someone who'd seen the Brit's side of the war from start to stop.