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The Kindness of Strangers WW2 Campaign - Chapter 2 - Introductions

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Early morning, 10 May 1940, Berry-au-Bac, France

Tendrils of mist curled skyward as the last vestiges of night fled before the dawn. The muted sounds of a little village waking up filled the air, heralding a day full of promise. The air was crisp and clean; the showers of the previous evening having dispersed. It was, by almost any standard, a beautiful morning.

Sergeant (Pilot) Christopher George Raymond, No. 1 Squadron RAF, noticed none of these things. Instead, his attentions were focused intently on the magnificent sound of the Rolls-Royce Merlin powering his Hurricane. An eleven hundred horsepower thing of beauty, it had roared to life on command, shattering the bucolic stillness of the French countryside.

The young man smiled, only then embracing the moment. Today was the day.

Pilot Officer Dixon’s voice crackled over the R/T, pulling Raymond from his thoughts, “Okay, Tip. Everything by numbers. We’ll just take these kites out for a little spin… get you familiarized with the neighborhood.”

“By numbers, Roger.” If Raymond’s clipped response betrayed his tumultuous emotions, neither his Section Leader, nor the Pilot Officer flying the other wing, made remark.

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Forming on Dixon’s wing after reaching altitude had been just about the last thing that went according to “numbers.” Less than ten miles out from the field, the third Hurricane was forced to turn back… the victim of a balky engine. Then, Raymond managed to get lost… twice. P/O Dixon was patient and understanding, but a demanding taskmaster. Rather than offer assistance, he gave Raymond the opportunity to prove himself. Receiving permission to drop altitude enough to simplify the process, the increasingly frustrated Sergeant recognized a landmark, and was able to make a slight course correction, bringing their noses back towards the city of Sedan.

Finally, it was while overflying Verdun, ground so dearly paid for in the last war, that Raymond realized he wasn't hearing anything over the r/t. Tabbing transmit before querying his section leader resulted in nothing as well. Raymond cursed to himself, and then gave the Rolls-Royce a slight kick, drawing abreast the other Hurricane.

Within seconds, Dixon looked over, and Raymond was able to convey clearly the reason for his silence. After a moment’s consideration, and with their dwindling fuel state clearly in mind, the section leader ordered the pair back to base.

It was then that things got interesting.

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Sure, he’d nearly flown them half way across France… no doubt earning himself some time on the ground. And perhaps his formation flying wasn’t as sharp as some might like. And… Bloody Hell! Are those ‘109s?!



I slipped forward and waggled my Hurri’s wings to catch Dixon’s attention, gesturing down in the direction of the three darting shapes. Simultaneously terrible and beautiful, they were the apex of aircraft design: sharks hunting an aether sea.

Thankfully, I did not have long to wait for instruction. Our fuel state critical, Billy had come to the same conclusions as had I. We neither could, nor would, avoid them… so it was to be one pass. Nodding as I waggled acknowledgement, I watched as Billy’s “D” for “David” pulled up and winged over, falling down upon the unsuspecting Germans.



Slipping back to guard his wing, I followed. “C’mon… don’t open your bloody eyes….” I grunted, willing the ‘109s to maintain their present course. Pressed back into my seat, I strained to keep eyes simultaneously on my lead and on the skies around us. Somehow, I was able to do both… and it was from that position that I witnessed the events of the next heartbeats.



One of the Germans finally realized the depth of their peril, but as events would prove, not soon enough. Embracing the most basic of lessons drummed in by my instructors, the three ‘109s flipped over, turning into the wolves that were descending upon them, hungry for the kill.



We had caught them unawares and flat-footed, and what transpired next was beyond their control. I saw smoke and spent brass stream from the wings of Billy’s Hurricane and good strikes on the green-nosed ‘109 as it streaked past, below and to our left. Fighting the urge to turn in pursuit, I mirrored my mate’s turn, slipping further behind so as to engage any who threatened his tail.







The violence of our descent forced Billy to overshoot the second ‘109.



Kicking his hurricane into a violent skid, Billy instinctively triggered the eight .303s as the yellow-nosed ‘109 flashed through his field of vision.



The Messerschmitt, which couldn't have been in the cone of fire for more than the blink of an eye, simply… came apart in the air, cartwheeling towards the countryside below in cloud of debris.





At the time, it didn't occur to me that I’d just watched a man die for the first time… I was too busy trying to stay on Billy’s wing and make sure my tail was clear. I can’t imagine that the German’s weren't hungry for revenge… but that would have to wait until another time. And there would be another time.

His prey downed and our tanks running dry, now was not the time to fill up our dance card. I followed dutifully as we streaked towards home, skirting the treetops. At any other time, I might have rejoiced… but now all I could do was fume.

I knew it made sense. I knew that I had done exactly as my duty demanded. I knew an extended engagement would likely place us in a fight we were ill-equipped to finish.

And I did not care.

I had survived my first combat, true. But I had neither fired a shot in anger, nor participated in any fashion other than that of an observer.

This is not at all how I imagined this would be.

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Scenario Briefing
  1. The '109s will continue flying straight until within two ruler's distance.
  2. Pilot (Sgt) Raymond is a Rookie, and embodies all the limitations of such.
  3. AI aircraft flown using BlackRonin's Advanced Solo Charts
  4. AI aircraft will RTB if they suffer fire or engine damage, 75% of total damage points, or the pilot is wounded (5 damage).
  5. The position of advantage was determined by a simple die roll: even = RAF, odd = Luftwaffe

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Comments

  1. Flying Officer Kyte's Avatar
    Just as I imagine an action in WWII, short sweet and then over.
    Rob.
  2. Blackronin's Avatar
    Excellent AAR.
    Story telling and photos are excellent.
    Good job.