Friday, July 12, 2013

Fullbore Friday

Part of the unwritten pact those who serve understand is they trust that they will not be left behind, they will not be forgotten.

The living, sadly, break that pact with the dead on an all too regular basis - but that is the exception.

A case in point recently points to what is the norm in our culture. Via Sara Pruitt at History.
22-year-old Flying Officer Derek Allen took to the skies for his first time in combat on May 10, 1940, the day that Germany launched its invasion of France and the Low Countries. Over the next eight days, Allen shot down four enemy aircraft himself and shared credit for three other downed planes. He would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his performance. Forced to bale out on May 15 after his Hurricane plane was hit with anti-aircraft fire, Allen walked for 24 hours through enemy territory in order to get back to his squadron.

About 6:30 a.m. on May 18, Allen was back in the air when a German gunner shot his plane down over farmland in northern France. By that time, German tanks and infantry had already managed to break the French defensive lines; they would soon advance to the coast.
When Allen’s parents were first told their son was missing in action, it was hoped that he might have been captured by the Germans and still be alive. Much later in the war, a RAF adjutant visited to tell them his plane had crashed and he was presumed dead. When the war ended in 1945, Derek Allen was one of 40,000 missing British airmen.
Forgotten? No, lost for awhile, but not forgotten.
while going through British Ministry of Defense files, historian Andy Saunders found a witness account of a Hurricane that was hit near the French town of Cambrai on the same day that Allen and his plane disappeared. After getting approval from Allen’s family and French officials, Saunders conducted excavations and found small parts of the downed plane. That evidence convinced the RAF Historical Branch to look deeper into their files for Allen’s old records, and eventually they confirmed that his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the village of Poix-de-Nord, near Cambrai.

Now that Derek Allen’s final resting place has been found, his younger brother Richard, now 81 years old, plans to lead family members in a dedication service at his brother’s grave.

Hat tip JB.

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