‘The plane is diving— It's going to crash!’ exclaimed Katy.
‘The other one is following it— I think it's a Spitfire,’ I said. ‘The other one's got two tails—
must be a Dornier 17.’
‘It's levelling out now and turning this way. It's coming straight for us.’
‘Quick, get behind the wall.’
We ran to the low remnant of the parapet of the former bridge and peered over it.
‘I think the twin-tailed one is going into Widdlington Copse,’ cried Katy. ‘The smoke's coming
from one of the engines. The propeller has stopped. Why is the Spitfire wiggling to and fro behind
‘To stay behind— the Dornier is slowing down. It's levelling out. It'll just clear the trees on the copse.’
‘The other propeller's stopped. It's coming down on the water meadows by the towpath. But it hasn't put its wheels
‘Better not— they'd go into the ditches. The 'plane would turn over.’
We watched fascinated as the Dornier came lower and lower until it touched the ground on its belly and bounced and
slithered towards us almost, it seemed, in slow motion.
It came to rest no more than a hundred yards from where we crouched.
The Spitfire roared low over our heads and pulled up in a steep climbing turn. We stood and
waved as it made a circuit of the downed Dornier. It then climbed away in the direction from
which it had come.
‘There's somebody getting out of the Dornier,’ cried Katy. ‘I can see a head.’
‘Must be the pilot,’ I said.
The pilot let himself slide down the side of the fuselage. We heard him cry out in pain as
he landed in a heap on the ground. He got up and began to stagger towards the towpath.
‘Come on Katy,’ I cried. ‘He's hurt— we've got to help him.’
I put one hand on the wall, vaulted over and ran towards the plane. Katy, hindered by her skirts, followed some yards
behind. The pilot reached us, and collapsed at our feet on the low bank of the towpath. He sat up and turned round to look
at the 'plane. He grinned at us from light-blue eyes under close-cropped blond hair. He held out his left hand. ‘Hello,’ he
I took his hand. ‘Hello,’ I said.
Are you hurt?’ asked Katy, indicating his arm.
‘Are you hurt?’ he repeated. ‘My name Walter.’
‘My name Kate.’
‘Und du? You?’ he said, looking at me.
‘Peterser?’ he repeated.