I've just come back from the wrap party following a live Zoom presentation that our next-door neighbor, Albert Hodkinson, gave to the Number 10 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
Albert is 101 years old and going strong. He is a fine storyteller and modest to boot. He was in the RAF during WWII. He started the war as a mechanic because, as he put it, "Only gentlemen were allowed to fly their airplanes," and he was from the East End of London. By the end of the war, he was a navigator on one of the Shiny 10's Lancasters. "Because they'd run out of gentlemen."
One time, Albert explained the easy way home from a night raid over Berlin. They'd fly west until they came to the white cliffs of Dover and turn right. Then, when they came to the Thames they'd left and follow it upriver until they came to the old Roman road. There, they'd turn right again and follow the road up into Scotland where their base was.
The hard way to navigate was by sextant. I asked him about that once and he told me that it was every bit as difficult using one on a jolting airplane with scattered clouds blocking the stars as you might imagine.
My son Sean was the tech crew for the event and, by all accounts, a good thing too. Afterward, family and friends and neighbors came by to make a party of it. Which is where this account began.
Marianne and I admire Albert greatly, so I thought I would share this so you can too.
Above: I apologize for the quality of the snapshot. Some days I'm a better photographer than on others. This, alas, is not one of those days.
"Ran out of gentlemen."
Post a Comment