I grew up in a semi-detached home. I shared a bedroom wall with the boy next door. He used to have model planes he had made all over his room. He would use greaseproof paper to make it look like the propellers were spinning. We all went to see Bugsy Malone together one time. I hated the film.
We had lots of fun banging to each other through the wall. I forgot we used to play badminton over the fence too.
He sent me an eighteenth birthday card, which I hope I still have. He was in the RAF and I was teaching when Mum and Dad told me he had visited them all smartly dressed in his uniform.
I was still away teaching when my parents rang to tell me he had been killed at the Berlin Airshow. His poor family. Mum told me that when his mum saw an RAF officer heading towards the house she had begged her husband not to answer the door. I reckon I would react exactly the same way.
The way he died has always stayed with me. For ages I was the only family member his parents stayed in touch with. I must have upset them too eventually as they stopped writing to me as well but I have never forgotten their son or the card he sent me!
I cannot find details of the crash at the moment. It feels like he has been erased from history, just because it doesn’t suit somebody somewhere to remember a British military failure. You would think there would be a tribute to them all somewhere. I have been looking on and off for years.
I got drunk and I seem to remember ending up lying on the floor of my room the day I was told. As I understand it, they were all incinerated. I think there was an enquiry. The only consolation is he died doing what he loved. Aeroplanes had always been his life.
I remember the card he sent. It had a cute little lion on the front.