ATAG_Flare

The Rookies

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Thought you guys might enjoy this short story I wrote.

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The Rookies - by Flare

New Year's Eve, 1944. I landed my Spitfire at B.88 Heesch, Netherlands, and was greeted with an atrocious sight of two replacement pilots. Damn. Just what we needed. During the last few weeks the wing had been downing the Jerries left and right. New pilots to whip into shape were the last thing I wanted to have to worry about. Dickson, the SSO of the wing, ran up to me and personally put the salt in the wound.
"The new pilots are here, sir. I told them that you'd take care of them for the first few days," he said with much enthusiasm.
This was turning into hell. "Very well, I'll see to them." And with a grunt I hope no one heard I was off.

I found the two new ones in dispersal. One was a tall, slim, dark haired boy probably not over the age of nineteen. The other looked a bit older, shorter, and a bit more suspicious. They were just sitting there, blank confused expressions on their faces. As they realised the wingco was in the room, they both snapped up to attention. My time had come.
"So you're the new ones, eh?" I asked.
They hesitated for a second, then the taller one spoke.
"Pilot Officer Andrew Wells, sir! I've been assigned to 411 squadron sir." He saluted, then the other piped up.
"Pilot Officer Stephen Beckett, sir! I'm in 411 also, sir."
"How many hours in Spits, you two?"
"Fifteen, sir."
"Eleven, sir."
For Christ's sake, it couldn't get any worse!
"What the hell is fighter command thinking, giving me recruits as inexperienced as this? Well, you better get going off to your CO, he'll tell you who you'll be flying with."
"Yessir!" said Wells. And off they went. The rest of the evening was filled with drinks and music and I almost managed to forget the disaster of the new pilots.

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The next morning I took the liberty of sleeping in and preparing myself a nice breakfast to celebrate the new year. Halfway though my cup of tea I was startled by the growing roar of aircraft engines. All of a sudden I heard shouts and loud general confusion. Then the planes screamed overheard at treetop level, causing me to jump and knock my mug over. I was enjoying that mug of tea! Whoever flew those planes overhead was getting a court martial. No one could knock my tea over and get away with it! I was thoroughly upset now, and I poked my head out the door.

The shapes of two Focke-Wulf Fw 190s came straight at me, their big radials screaming. In seconds they were over, and the sound was replaced by the sounds of our Spitfire's Merlin engines coming to life. I looked around and saw my Spitfire and started towards it instinctively. Never had I run so fast since that scramble at Biggin Hill in the fall of 1940! As I was running towards my Spit, DB-A, I saw the two new pilots, Wells and Beckett, just standing there watching the commotion.
"What are you waiting for!?" I yelled. "Get one up!"
The two rookies hesitated for a second and then ran after me towards two empty Spitfires. In two minutes I was in the air, the two rookies taking off just behind me. Pushing the throttle through the gate, I turned west, the direction that the German planes were heading. I heard a voice on my radio.
"What do we do, sir?"
It took me a moment to realise that it was the voice of P/O Wells. Why had he jumped in a plane tuned to the same frequency as mine? Now I had a rookie to babysit as well as shooting down Germans.
"Follow me, kid. Stay on my wing and don't do anything unless I tell you to."
"What about me, sir?" Oh great, the other one too.
"Stick to my other wing. Alright you two, follow me, and buster."
In a few minutes I saw two Ju-88s flying parallel to us at two o'clock. I called them out.
"Alright, I'm going in on the left one. You two stay back and watch how it's done."
I turned in to attack the German bomber and was surprised to see that Beckett was still on my wing!
"Beckett! I said stay back!"
He kept on ignoring me and his Spitfire barrelled on towards the 88 on the right. I put the left bomber in my sights, closed to range, and gave him a good burst to the right wing and engine with cannon and m/g. It started to burn and the aircraft banked to the right and crashed into the treetops. I looked over at Beckett. He was spraying tracers all over the place, yet he somehow got a good hit on the Junkers, and it nosed over into a field and exploded.
"I got him! I got him!" came the cry over the R/T. If that kid thought he could get away with that awful shooting he sure was wrong.
"Congratulations, kid. Now -"
"Look out sir! 190s!" cried out Wells.

Behind me was an ugly grey Focke-Wulf. I instinctively broke hard right, getting out of his line of fire. There was a second 190 diving on Beckett but he managed to somehow make a good decision and he broke away.
Wells spoke again. "I've got a shot at him!" Huh. Good for you, son. We don't need play-by-play commentary. "I got him!"
Well that was a surprise! A rookie on his first flight shoots down a Jerry! Looking behind, I realised it was MY 190. Maybe that kid had something in him after all.
I reversed my turn, and headed towards Beckett who was having a hard time with the 190 on his six. He started a zoom climb and the German followed. Perfect. I had a great shot at him, if only I was in range. Closer, closer! Focused only on my gunsight now, waiting for the perfect shot. The Focke-Wulf pulled over at the top of his climb. Now! I opened fire, my shells poured into his starboard wing root. Off came the canopy, out came the pilot. Only then did I see the stalled Spitfire ahead of me, falling at my left wing.
With a gut wrenching crunch our wings collided. Good old DB-A went into a hard spin. Damn rookies! I slid back the hood, stood up, and let the wind lift me out of the cockpit. I pulled the ripcord. As I floated down the short distance to the field I looked around and saw three four burning fighters on the ground, two other parachutes floating earthward, and one Spitfire flying circles around it all. Damn kids.

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Hope you liked it! Any critique or feedback is appreciated.

Flare

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