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Of boys and heroes

I worked pretty hard all day on text and pictures for Sharing the Inheritance then flew out the door for a walk. I dashed across a road ahead of a car and suddenly saw a teenage boy shooting toward me, very low on his skateboard in a swooping curve. I couldn't go back, but it wasn't clear he was going to be able to avoid me. For one second I fixed my eyes on him, and silently said, you are a BOY. You will miss me. And of course he did, with grace and ease.

I have a dear uncle, Joe Van Veen, who suffered a stroke yesterday. He was a boy like that and he became a good man, a man who is loved - I have never met anyone who doesn't love and respect him. Plus, Joe can build or fix anything - he has common sense about the world. He served in World War II and did his duty and has never ever said one boasting word about it. He doesn't have anything to do with the story of the Brits, but if you happened to say a prayer for him, he would appreciate it, and so would I.

Boys grow up to be good men if their families and their countries give them some help.


RH Holmes. Image: Battle of Britain Historical Society

Ray Holmes was on duty in a Hawker Hurricane fighter on September 15, 1940 when he spotted a Dornier bomber making a run on Buckingham Palace.

To stop the German, Holmes made a head on run at the Dornier then discovered his machine guns had failed. In a split second he decided to ram the bomber, hoping his plane could withstand the impact and cut through it.

With a closing speed well in excess of 400mph, the result was instantaneous and catastrophic. The Dornier's entire twin-rudder tail section parted company with the remainder of the fuselage which then did a violent front somersault. Indeed so violent that both of the wings snapped off outboard of the engines due to excessive g-force. Ray had aimed his aircraft with amazing precision, his wing slicing through the Dornier at its most vulnerable point - the rear fuselage. Arty initially thought he'd got away with his suicide mission but he no longer had control over the Hurricane which entered into a vertical dive. He abandoned the Hurricane and took to his parachute.

He bailed out safely, though injured, and continued flying with the RAF throughout the war.

Comments (1)


From liberator to enslavement; from the inspirational (WWII) to the insipid (pc) all in just one generation!

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