June 1940

“Red leader, rendezvous angels ten over grey beach.”

Angels ten? Far too low. He had no intention of repeating yesterday’s disaster when ops sent them over Dunkirk at 10,000 feet.  Three dozen Messerschmitts dove out from the sun and cut the squadron to ribbons. But arguing with ops was like kicking a rubber wall.

“Red leader, copy,” Jameson said into his oxygen mask. He glanced down at the fuel gauge. Plenty for his plan.

He rocked the stick, waggling his wings to get the attention of the other aircraft. Woody, his wingman, looked over.  Jameson pointed upward and held up two fingers. Woody nodded and the three Hurricanes climbed to 20,000 feet, throttles wide open.

Down to his left he could see the port of Calais, the ships crowding the harbor. Five minutes later they were over Dunkirk itself. From this altitude, the lines of men waiting on the beach looked small as fleas.

Woody’s voice crackled across the receiver. “Stukas, Jimmy.”

Sure enough, two dozen of the German dive bombers were streaking in at 15,000 feet, preparing to make their run. Jameson toggled the switch to “fire” and jabbed the button to test his guns. The deafening clatter shook the aeroplane.

“Right,” he said. “Come on, Woody.”

He pushed his Hurricane into a screaming dive.


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