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By Barrie Pitt

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Extra info for History of the Second World War - Russia Blunts the Blitzkrieg

Example text

Much of my underlying motivation for this book comes from my parents. My father Cliff served in RAF Bomber Command from 1939 to 1945. My mother, Tamar, told me of lying in bed in the months before I was born, and listening to the Luftwaffe bombers droning above as they flew over Doncaster on their way to bomb Sheffield’s steelworks. Consequently, during my childhood in the late forties and early fifties in the UK, my parents imbued me with the deepest respect and awe for what the RAF had done to turn back the German bombing raids.

Despite Bevis and the other pilots having been flying since 0545 that morning, at the Wadi Seidna airfield the station officer made them refuel and take off on a seven-hour flight north to Luxor in Egypt. This next leg would be without the guiding Blenheim, which left on a flight to join a squadron in the Far East. During the flight from El Fasher, Bevis had dropped his maps onto the floor of the Hurricane, intending to recover them on landing at Wadi Seidna. Distracted by the orders of the station commander, he forgot to do so.

Yet now in my despair, I sought an answer from God. Exhausted, demoralized, his lips burnt and tongue swollen with thirst, Bevis sank to his knees. He prayed for divine intervention. I saw the faces of all those with whom I had argued and discussed religion. They seemed to scorn my present weakness, which drove me to my feet. I summoned the strength to unpack part of the tool kit and remove the engine cowling. I took out several plugs and, using my shirt dipped them into the petrol tank, I squeezed fuel directly into the motor.

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