Knights in shining armour, our saviours

by Charlotte Tate

Each morning, after there had been an air raid, before setting out to school at the Quinton Church of England School, I would go out on to the lawn to search for pieces of shrapnel. When I met my friends at school, we would compare our shrapnel to see who had picked up the largest piece.

Our pilots would fly over Quinton, either training or enemy plane spotting. When one of them flew over the school at playtime, we would all wave to the crew. They were not very high up, by modern standards. Once one of the pilots waved a white scarf at us in reply. It was such a thrill. We regarded these men as our knights in shining armour. Our Saviours. They were.

Many of my peers had fathers who were fighting abroad. Some of these fathers did not return, alas. I remember wounded fathers, at home on leave, coming to meet their children from school. They wore special clothes; a royal blue suit and forage cap, a red tie and a white shirt. One of these men had his arm in a sling.

As more and more of the young men were called up into the armed forces, several young Quinton couples brought their wedding dates forward in order to be married before the men were sent abroad. One of these young war brides, a neighbour's daughter, married her pilot sweetheart. They had a two-day honeymoon, and then one week later he was killed.

© QLHS 2005


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