tinkll1 (tinkll1) wrote,

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Albany Park to Warwick - A Spitfire Fantasy, Fulfilled

A little research reveals that my Spitfire fantasy found a concrete focus on Chicago's South Side, at the Museum of Science and Industry, after October 1944, for that was when, Mark Ia, P9306, arrived. That year, I was 8 years old, and I had seen "A Yank in the RAF", and "Eagle Squadron".

It may have been in 1946, but it was surely before 1949, when I entered high school, and my focus shifted to tennis and my fantasies moved in the direction of the female gender, from the skies to the earthy... "The Outlaw" was released in 1946, when I was 10 years old.

In those late grammar school years, just after World War II, Chicago was a safe city to explore, and I would board the Rapid Transit at Kedzie Avenue and ride the Ravenswood "L" to Jackson Park and the museum. There were two exhibits in particular that absorbed my attention, the gigantic model railroad, and the Spitfire and Ju-87 hanging from the ceiling.

I had no idea that the particular airplane I saw was the most decorated survivor of the Battle of Britain, and that it had participated in the destruction of 5 enemy aircraft. Nor could I have imagined that 60 years later I would be traveling to a meeting of the 74th Squadron, where that very Spitfire scored 2 victories, to meet with members of the association as they celebrate the squadron's 90th birthday.

As a consequence of this Live Journal, I've read a biography of a Battle of Britain pilot who had more hours of combat during the battle than any other pilot, and through the aid of percyprune I began to correspond with him. Over the past 2 years, we've exchanged several letters, and I was honored to be nominated as an associate of the 74 Squadron Association. Wing Commander John C. Freeborn is credited with 13 1/2 victories, though his war started with a tragic event of friendly fire. He overcame an accident that would have been the end of the career of a lesser man, and went on to win the DFC with bar, and lead what became the Balkan Air Force.

So, Lin and I will journey to Warwick for the association meeting, and we'll splurge on a limo from Heathrow, and I'll review Bob Cossey's book on the Tiger Squadron so I have a bit more knowledge when I sit down with the men of the squadron where "my Spitfire" served.

After the squadron meeting, we'll visit London and take in Spamalot. From the sublime to the ridiculous. This will be from February 28th to March 4th.
Tags: 74 squadron, battle of britain, john c. freeborn, spitfire, warwick
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