Grief During Wartime
Up next, a series of posts about Harald Penrose, a remarkable British test pilot and author.
In the meantime: the following story is taken from a chapter in his autobiography, Adventure With Fate. Penrose was chief test pilot at Westland Aircraft during the Second World War - which was a major contributing manufacturer of the Supermarine Seafire, the naval version of the Spitfire:
"Aircraft awaiting collection were parked in a line behind the steel mesh, barb-topped tall fence that surrounded the aerodrome. That made it impossible for saboteurs to gain access. Yet at dawn one day a guard patrolling the factory frontage spotted a Seafire with hood open and the propeller spasmodically jerking.(photo of Seafires - in the pre-test flight shed with Welkin fighters in the background - via)
He unlocked the gate and rushed to the aeroplane. In the cockpit was a lad of fifteen pressing the button of a starter-battery he had linked to the machine. Brusquely interrogated, he said ‘The Germans have killed my brother, so I was going to fly away with this aeroplane to kill a German,’ and brandishing a revolver he broke free and ran away, escaping over a distant part of that unscalable fence…”