My High School Band Director, Duncan Thompson, was a pilot for the RAF in WW II. He flew his British Supermarine Spitfire on many missions as escort for Allied bombers. There were some hair-raising dog fights that we loved to hear about. Just this week, my former Brother-in-Law shared a story of mercy between a German fighter pilot and a crippled B-17 bomber. Instead of shooting the Americans down, this pilot flew escort over enemy territory, all the way to the British Coast. Later the pilots found each other and began a long friendship. (the story is easily found by browsing “Stigler and Brown”
Duncan never knew the identity of his particular German pilot, but the story is just as heartwarming. Dunc and his squadron had just completed a successful mission over Germany when they encountered a large squadron of Messerschmidts coming at them from out of the sun. Not one of the planes in this skirmish, got away without heavy damage and, in Dunc’s case, with totally empty guns. As he was limping home, he heard, “Hello, Yank! Had enough, eh?”, in heavy German accent. Even though he had been told that the enemy had access to their communications, it was the first time he had experienced it. The voice continued, “Well, I’ve about had it also, so why don’t we drift away and live to fight another day?” Dunc thought, “Why not? I’ve nothing to lose”, so he keyed his mic, “Fine with me, stranger.” “Great!”, came the reply. “Look at two-o’clock”. And there was an equally damaged German fighter gradually descending to his altitude. He could make out the features of the German pilot, who gave him a thumbs-up as he peeled off to return home. Dunc never found the pilot and will always wonder if his guns were empty too, but he will always remember this act of Mercy and thank GOD for HIS intervention. The war was over soon after and it was revealed that less than ten-percent of the 280,000 German pilots survived the conflict. Duncan Thompson felt assured that his ‘friend’ was one, at least he prayed so. There must be a lot of stories like this one. Perhaps a book should be written, donchaknow. GOD’s MERCY and GRACE continues to prevail in the hearts of men. Really!
And that’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates right here in my corner studio under the shadow of Kyle Field.