Shot Down Over Dunkirk.

Discussion in 'Stories' started by Nostalgair, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Home Page:
    Hi All,

    In response to some requests from Njaco, Thorlifter, etc I'm posting a short excerpt from my book "Down to Earth". The book details the diverse career of SQNLDR K.B. McGlashan AFC, a WWII RAF fighter pilot who flew in most of the major engagements; Dunkirk, Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day. He was also one of the first generation of night fighter pilots for the RAF when tactics were rudimentary to say the least.

    If you'd like more of an outline of the story, let me know and I'll post a synopsis. Here's a brief excerpt that I had at hand.

    Cheers

    Owen

    "...As the battle developed beneath me, two fighters, Messerschmitt Bf109s, slipped by 3,000 feet below emerging ahead and to my right at a great rate of knots. They were obviously seeking out the tails of my leading sections and had positioned themselves in the classic six o’clock position. I flicked my gun switch to ‘live’ and readied to roll my machine over to initiate a diving attack on the diving fighters. A screech came over my ineffectual TR9D radio, filling my helmet with deafening, squawking static. I later learned it was Geoff Howitt warning me of the five 109s diving on us, attacking from our port quarter. Howitt broke hard left and crossed in front of me, yet I was still none the wiser. Amidst this melee, I was concentrating on my attack and had totally neglected to look behind. The first indication I had of anything going wrong was when the armour plate behind my head began ringing like an alarm clock. Before I could draw breath, bright red tracers started bombarding my cockpit, whistling between my legs and ravaging the panels of Perspex and fabric to my left. The incendiary-tipped tracers assist the pilot in seeing where his shots are landing and from my perspective I could see them landing very well. As my instrument panel began disintegrating before my eyes, my thoughts leapt suddenly to the vapour-rich petrol tank that sat just behind the instruments. Momentary horror turned to short relief when I recalled that the tank was self-sealing.

    The attack had been lightning quick. I slammed the control stick forward and to the right, entering a downward roll and sending the world spinning around. The back of my legs stung as metal splinters spat from the maze of piping fragmenting beneath my feet. Engine coolant, oil and all variety of hot fluids showered me as the scent of smoke began to fill the air. Foolishly I had been flying with my goggles atop my helmet and now the mix of smoke and oils that were bringing down my aeroplane were also serving to partially blind me. My cockpit had become a scene of absolute chaos. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the attack abated. Gathering my thoughts, I pulled the aircraft out of the dive and assessed my situation; not good. Bleeding oil and coolant, I knew my Hurricane was done for and I began readying myself to bail out. With the threat of fire growing, I cut the engine, switched off the fuel and set about sliding back the hood. My vision was getting worse and I fumbled to get the canopy back. Three times I tried and three times it slid closed. In my enthusiasm to get out, I was failing to lock the canopy open and a sense of incarceration came across me. Being trapped in a fiery cockpit was the dread of every fighter pilot and for a moment I began to wonder if this is how my war was to end. A moment after that, the second attack started.

    The left hand side of my canopy exploded again as the red tracer ravaged what remained of my aircraft’s port side. With the engine shutdown, I was literally powerless. Again I slammed the stick forward, though this time to the left. I combined inertia with gravity, accelerating my wounded machine downwards. I felt a wallop and then a trickling sensation down the back of my leg and thought that I’d copped a hit in the backside. [It turned out to be a direct hit on an Agfa cartridge in my pocket, allowing the film to unfurl in my trousers.] Headlong, vertical and hurtling towards Terra Firma, I had a moment of unexpected clarity and recalled banter at the bar that formed a consensus that 109s were poor at recovering from dives. With the earth looming large in the windscreen and absolutely nothing left to lose, I decided to apply this theory. At the last possible moment I hauled back on the control column with all of my remaining might. As the blood drained from my head, my world faded to ‘black and white’ and then just black........."


    An excerpt from ’Down to Earth’. A Fighter Pilot’s Experiences of Surviving Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day. By Squadron Leader Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan AFC with Owen Zupp.

    Grub Street Publishing 2007.
     
  2. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    51,171
    Likes Received:
    848
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Adelaide Sth. Aust.
    Let me be the first to say thanks, Owen.:)
     
  3. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    5,941
    Likes Received:
    625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cracow
    THX Nostalgair.
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Thanks Nostal, great read! Where can I get a copy?
     
  5. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    20,140
    Likes Received:
    54
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Washington State
    Excellent. Would love to know what happened. I'll keep an eye out for that book.
     
  6. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    8,857
    Likes Received:
    376
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Workin' for the man....
    Location:
    South East Queensland
    Great read Owen! Thanks alot for sharing it with us mate.
     
  7. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Home Page:
    Hi All,

    Thanks for the responses and I'm glad you liked the excerpt. I'll post some more snippets here from time to time if you'd like. I'll also post some info about the Hurricane restoration.

    V2, I like you're signature shot of the Defiant. Kenneth McGlashan flew Defiants with 96 Squadron in the night fighter role.

    Njaco, the easiest way to get a copy is probably through Amazon, though I believe it's distributed in the US through 'Casemate'.

    In the US, Amazon.com at Amazon.com: DOWN TO EARTH: A Fighter Pilot's Experiences of Surviving Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day: Books: Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan

    ...and in the UK at Amazon.co.uk: Down to Earth: A Fighter Pilot Recounts His Experiences of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Dieppe, D-Day and Beyond: Books: Owen Zupp

    If there's any feedback or questions about the story, I'm more than happy to discuss them.

    Cheers

    Owen

    Cover.jpg
     
  8. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    12,162
    Likes Received:
    123
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Owen, that was great! Interesting to hear his thought processes as his aircraft was disintegrating around him!
     
  9. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,900
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Still a student
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    That was a thriller!

    But what happened? Did his aircraft hit the earth? Did he turn his engine back on? Did he manage to finally bail out? Was he able to recover his sight? Is the plane made of wood or aluminum?????

    (Last question a parody Joke. :))

    But great story, I like it!
     
  10. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Buy the book. :lol:
     
  11. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Home Page:
    Hi Soundbreaker,

    I won't be spoiling the book by telling you that he lived to fight another day. He ended up force landing on the beach some distance from Dunkirk and having a rather event-filled journey back to the UK. Ultimately, he went on to be involved in the Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day.

    Cheers

    Owen
     
  12. wilbur1

    wilbur1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,206
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Mechanik
    Location:
    Escondido,Ca
    Great story must find that book :D
     
  13. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Home Page:
    Hi All,

    Well it's been a while coming, but here's another excerpt from 'Down to Earth'. This passage sees Kenneth as a relatively new fighter pilot, yet to see action.

    Cheers

    Owen

    …as the Squadron’s only “single engined” pilot, I was to be sent to Abbotsinch to collect the sole dual control Battle in the country. On its return, the aircraft would be used to convert our “”twin engined” pilots to its ways with a minimum of pain. Well, that was the plan anyway…

    …having familiarised myself with the type, I readied to take my new steed to its new home. The weather surrounding the airfield was bleak and foggy as I lifted off and started into the climb. Previously unaware of their presence, I found myself flying through a section of tethered barrage balloons over Glasgow. Through sheer good fortune I escaped harm at the hands of the helium-filled defence system. A few years later I would witness the lethal potential of Barrage Balloons as they dotted the skies over Crewe. One of our own, a Shorts Stirling, flew into the cables, exploding into a fireball before falling to earth and killing the entire crew. I could only reflect about my earlier escape.

    With the near-miss behind me, I set course for Leconfield. Passing Thornton Hill, I had no sooner settled in for the flight when my engine stopped, leaving things very quiet. This was particularly embarrassing as I was not at a great height at the time and confronted with extremely limited options. It had been a very hard winter and the small rolling foothills were snow coated with a deeply frozen core of soil beneath. Without further ado I chose a field ahead. My selected area was divided by a small track crossing it and terminated with a house and garage at the far end. Not ideal, but it would have to do. Setting my speed and lining up on the field, I experienced a very uncomfortable feeling. The Battle was the first aircraft I had flown with retractable undercarriage and the proximity of the ground without my wheels lowered was rather unnerving. My next action seemed logical at that moment, but with the benefit of hindsight and experience, it was a basic error. I lowered the undercarriage.

    I impacted the frozen earth well into the chosen landing site and bounced high above the snow. Floating over the track that I had noted on approach, my eyes caught those of a woman pushing a pram with a baby in it. I touched down again and stuck this time. Surmounting the crest of the hill, I started down at a great rate before striking a hedge which served to shear off my main wheels. The aircraft fell to its belly with little loss in speed initially and was now effectively a Royal Air Force toboggan heading straight for the residence’s garage. I tried to gain some directional control by kicking the rudders, though this proved very ineffective other than to slew the aircraft slightly from side to side. Throughout, the Battle’s course remained true. As I contemplated whether I would stop in time, one of the double doors opened and a head protruded to take in proceedings. The head was then rapidly withdrawn and reappeared through a side door, at speed, with body firmly attached.


    An excerpt from ’Down to Earth’. A Fighter Pilot’s Experiences of Surviving Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day. By Squadron Leader Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan AFC with Owen Zupp.

    Grub Street Publishing 2007.
     
  14. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    5,941
    Likes Received:
    625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cracow
  15. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Home Page:
    Hi V2,

    I'm glad you liked the post.

    I must admit to liking your signature image as Kenneth flew Defiants in the night fighter role at one stage as well.

    Cheers

    Owen
     
  16. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    51,171
    Likes Received:
    848
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Adelaide Sth. Aust.
    good stuff Owen, thanks for sharing some more...:D
     
  17. Karl Sitts

    Karl Sitts Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Teacher: History, Spec. Educ. (retired)
    Location:
    Tularosa, NM, USA
    Great! Thanks for the posting! Hope more to follow!
     
  18. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Thanks Nostalgair! I like that it seems from the excerpts that its a very easy read - nothing too technical or $50 words bandied about. It flows.
     
  19. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    20,140
    Likes Received:
    54
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Washington State
    Nostalgair, this is a non-fiction book right, with you taking liberties in the telling of the biography?
     
  20. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Home Page:
    Hi Matt,

    Sorry for the slow reply.

    Yes, this is indeed a non-fiction book. It is Kenneth's life story, which often adds much credence to the phrase that truth is stranger than fiction. He had a tremendously diverse career as a fighter pilot, seeing action from Dunkirk to D-Day with the Battle of Britain and Dieppe in between.

    It is written in the first person, reflecting Kenneth's perspective, from hours of taped interviews.

    Any further questions, please just ask, or email me via my website.

    Cheers

    Owen
     
Loading...

Share This Page