Battle of Britain: The South Coast Trail


Battle of Britain: The South Coast Trail

Military historian Howard Tuck travels along the south coast uncovering forgotten traces of one of the most terrifying planned invasions of Britain.


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Here on the site, thousands of workers worked around the clock to

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produce hundreds of Spitfires, but for the enemy, it was too good a

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target to miss. The sirens went, and they went across to the

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shelters and had a game of cards. Then, we heard aeroplane engines,

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and I was at the one closest to the door, so I rushed out, and I saw

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the swastika, and I went down quick, and be laid on the floor to shout,

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and the bombs were crashing out all around us. The blast came through

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the door, out there the event at the other end, and the concrete

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Debt fair runs the world's largest betting exchange. Gamblers who want

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to place a bet are matched with other gamblers. No bookmaker is

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involved. This was a big growth company, but since the shares went

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on the stock market, they have slumped in value.

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Betfair started with Horseracing, Growth has not been as good as they

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thought, and we are looking at a gaming business. While technology

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is important to the business, it is Just gone, this the first time in

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70 years. Absolutely, and it is quite strange. Dom's shelter was a

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life-saver. In 1940, Southampton So Flight-Lieutenant James

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Nicholson was given the Victoria Cross. He and develop pilot were

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hit with a fire from the same German plain.

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With their aircraft on fire, they both had to jump. The only one of

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them would survive. So at somebody suddenly said look! And we looked

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above. And from where I stood, the orientation was virtually above

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this house, but way up. So far up that it was difficult to discern

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which plane was which. You could hear the machine guns going and so

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forth. And we saw these two planes in combat, and then suddenly from

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nowhere, a third plane appeared at that was already on fire, and

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attacked one of the others, which disappeared over the water dock,

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trailing smoke. Despite being badly injured, Nicholson remained in his

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burning aircraft to take one last We became aware of two chutes. One

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opened, and drifted over towards the south-west which was Nicholson.

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But we riveted our attention onto the chute that hadn't open properly

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and was Roman candling behind. was coming down quickly? It was

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falling at a great rate. It seemed to go on for ever. When we saw them

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coming down, some of us cheered because we thought it had to be a

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German. Only Germans got shot down. One seemed to be disappearing over

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Millbrook and the other one was coming towards us. I could see as

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it got nearer, this pilot's parachute was damaged, and the

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pilot was feverishly pulling on the strings. And you could see this?

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Yes. You could see his arms pulling? Yes, pulling the strings.

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Incredible. He was very close, over the house, and he disappeared. My

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father was in the Home Guard. He went round to see what had happened,

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and he came back an hour later, and said, he came down in Clifton Road,

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but it was one of our lads. And he looked so young. He didn't look any

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age at all. It was just... A very momentous day in my life. I will

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always remember seeing that poor chap struggling. At only 19 years

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old, the pilot was Martyn King flying from Boscombe Down. A novice

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who had only been with 249 squadron for eight weeks. James Nicholson

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collected his Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace. ARCHIVE: No

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braver deed on any of the war fronts has been recorded than that

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which won the VC for Flight Lieutenant JB Nicholson. We didn't

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realise at the time we were watching an action that somebody

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 41 seconds

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was going to get a VC for. They This is where the bomber crashed.

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My mother and sister and a schoolfriend, we were out picking

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blackberries. This Bain seemed to come from nowhere. It was so low

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that we felt we had to duck. The Spitfire came, and soon after it

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happened. I remember the terrific bang, and when it came down, there

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was a bellowing of black smoke. There were flames, it was really

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scary. It was still burning, and it was a terrible sight, that is all I

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can say, really. There were bits of bodies lying about. It has still

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burning at the time. I could not get over the terrible smell. That

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terrible smell, it haunted me for years. We had a cooked meal when we

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went back home for our evening meal. It has betrayed us, runner beans,

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and I could not eat liver for years and years after. The liver smelt

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like that smell from the crash. That night, I remember when I was

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going to bed, I was upset, because I knew people that had died, and my

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Mother said, it was dreadful, because nobody wanted young people

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to die. It was wartime, and it was kill or be killed.

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Waugh takes a lot of killing, 10 years later, in 1950, a villager

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was asked to erect a cross to remember they crew. The village

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rejected it by two votes in a move that made national headlines.

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There was a lot of opposition to any kind of memorial or anything.

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There is a memorial on a private estate, but Barbara has never seen

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it. I would love to be buried up here. It is really simple. I like

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the simplicity of it. He does not need to say more than that. It says

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the men are unknown, but we do know the identities of the crew. One of

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them was this chap, one of the Gunners. He was a champion swimmer

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before the war. His fiancee wrote to a lovely letter when they found

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out what had happened to him. They feared he was going to crash into

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the sea and swim for Almighty and drown. I would like to read a

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little bit of the letter. Now, we know for sure that he did not fall

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into the sea because that would have been very painful for him. He

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was one of the best swimmers in Germany at the time, but we worried

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that he would swim until exhausted and drowned. We know it must have

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been over quickly, and we know where he fell. We thank you all for

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that comforting knowledge. It is really moving. Very personal. We

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know that one of the gentle men that shot down that day, he went to

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become a very famous private, and it was significant because it was

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his fifth killed and it turned him into an ace. He was flying a

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Spitfire that day from RAF Middle Wallop. We have a photograph of him

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here. Having a photograph not only of him, it is a real tale of those

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two young men. Very similar in age. It is very moving. Bill Green

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remembers the dramatic day he was shot down. I head injuries in my

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leg. They sat me in the corner and gave me a cup of tea. This is the

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actual field where you landed on that date. Do you recognise it?

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it was indelibly marked on my mind. Around 6pm, we were scrambled.

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went through the thick cloud and week formed above the clouds at

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about 12,000 feet. If you said to me, is there any chance you could

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miss anything, I would say there was no chance. The sky was so

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clear? Above the cloud, it was crystal clear and a brilliant sun

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from the West. We looked everywhere. There was a crash. There was a hole

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in the bullet-proof windscreen and bits fell around my feet. And I was

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covered in the coolant. I realise the aeroplane was finished. I just

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took the weight off my bottom on to my feet like that. I found myself

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in space. I was sucked out. I grabbed the ripcord and I saw

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something quite do that. -- wide. I thought, that was odd. It had no

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significance until the main pack were babysitting and should have

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been dragged out just fell out of its pack and with me rolling for

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word, it came up between my legs like this and I rolled into it

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ended wrapped around my body. And I was falling through space at 140

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mph. I must have psychologically realised I was going to dive. My

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thoughts of my death were with my wife. I wondered if she was

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thinking about what I would think the end would be like? I was trying

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to seek my own and to my thoughts of her. She realised one minute it

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would be this, the next, there would be a bang and that would be

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it. Suddenly, there was a jolt. The wind must have got under one of the

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Falls and what it open, and it popped the lot out. -- under the

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foals and blew it open. But quite as I experienced then had more

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impact than anything else I had ever heard. I looked to the right

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and I saw the cables. The seemed to be level with me. They were a bit

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below me. The trees were above me. I thought, I am near the ground. I

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sat on the floor. 29 was the last of the battle for me. I had 26

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flights and been shot down twice. He landed in relative safety and

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his Bain plummeted down to three miles east crashing into a hill. We

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have managed to locate the site with the help of an aviation

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archaeologist and Bill is visiting for the first time. This is where

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you came in. It gives me a funny feeling looking at it. Just

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thinking I was part of it, and now I am here. I could have been end

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there, as a great many were. Not many people were in the airplanes

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when they went in. Happily, I was not. You have left your mark!

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aeroplane left its mark! Nice to see you. I am attempting to reunite

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you with us some debris from your hurricane. I will not recognise it.

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These are some bits that I have picked up. This might be part of

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the car greater. This is another bit that is part of the hydraulic

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fitting for the guns. There was one black peace and one orange piece.

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You had two of those at the bottom of the control column. It was

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something at the time that she did not take a second look at. Bat

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could literally had been as close as it is to you now. When he went

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through that trauma. You could have been touching that. That was part

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of your aeroplane. Incredible. gives me a funny feeling. You're

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telling me to hold on to this? please. There from here today, and

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today he is an important day for both of us. This, to me, is what

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makes the Battle of Britain so alive. Here we are, with the

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gentleman that flu a hurricane, and here, a tree that bears the scars

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of it coming down and the bits that we found today, and Bill is still

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over there looking for pieces of his aircraft that crashed that day.

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There again. I never thought we would see a pilot finding bits of

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his hurricane. That is a handle that to open up the canopy. I found

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this further down the bank towards the fallen tree. Over 20 years ago.

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I wanted you to see it and 70 years later, reunited with it. 70 years

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ago, you grab that Handel and that saved her life. It has got your

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name on it! It has got to be true! Could you find the others? You just

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grabbed it and pulled it back. opened up the canopy. Yes, you

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pulled the canopy back. There were occasions where we were prevented

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from doing it because a bullet had hit the runner area and people were

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seen with flames tugging at their handled like this. You could not

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open it. It went straight down. absolutely wonderful part of the

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countryside that has not changed since 1940. It is as good as you'll

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ever get now, as going back in time. This is timeless. You're living and

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breathing it and touching it, the Battle of Britain. I cannot believe

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it. There cannot be many situations where people like me are holding 90

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bits like this being fanned by people like you. I do not think

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this could be happening. Even though the RAF has vastly

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outnumbered, the Germans suffered losses they could not sustain. By

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the end of October, had her called off immediate plans to invade. The

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Battle of Britain had been won. Ginger has come here to remember

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his lost friends. To me, nobody comes close to him. Nobody knows

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There is another one. I must have The Battle of Britain Memorial in

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Kent. It is a quite recent innovation. It looks move. Bill

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Green is one of many better still with us today. -- whenever a few

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that is still with us today. could not be better. There you are.

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For you personally, having this here, is this the sort of personal

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memorial, do you think? I feel very privileged and very humbled that I

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am among some very brave people. Luckily, I'm still around. Not so

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many of us around any more. It is nice to see it on a lovely day like

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this as well. Shame they will not see it. 19-year-old Martyn King,

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who fell to his death in Southampton, was buried at Fawley

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All Saints Churchyard on 21st August, 1940. Don, who witnessed

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his death over 70 years ago, has made the journey to pay his

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respects. There we are. There's the grave. Pilot Officer King. Such a

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That is to him and all his brave comrades. So richly deserved. I

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often wondered, and at times I have thought about it, what must have

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gone through his mind in those last awful moments. Today, we can still

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find the craters, the pieces of metal, and for a while longer, hear

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the voices of those that defended our nation against the real threat

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of invasion. Seven German dive bombers, one going down on its

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Military historian Howard Tuck travels along the south coast uncovering forgotten traces of one of the most terrifying planned invasions of Britain. Howard knocks on doors and takes metal detectors into the countryside to unearth untold stories of bravery, tragedy and guilt lain buried for 70 years.


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