Eyes Turned Skywards: Excerpt Two, from Chapter Five

Time to let them know he was nearly there, thought Bob, tuning his radio to the frequency he’d noted before leaving Oban. ‘Wick Tower, this is Annan Nine Five Nine off the coast, ten miles south of you and requesting clearance to approach and land.’

‘Roger, Annan callsign. Er... wait one.’

Then there was a pause. When the radio crackled back into life there was much more urgency in the voice. ‘Annan callsign. We’ve just had an overflight by a raider who was last seen passing at very low level over Wick, heading south over the sea. We’ve got Spitfires from Castletown up and in pursuit, but please be aware that he might be coming your way.’

Bob was about to reply when the radio sparked into life again. ‘Annan callsign, please turn left on a heading of 270 degrees and proceed inland. It’s been confirmed that the raider is a Junkers Ju 88 and is heading down the coast towards you.’

The control tower at RAF Wick presumably had no idea what type of aircraft Bob was flying, but given his training callsign had decided to take no chances. He was about to challenge the instruction when he realised that there wasn’t time. Instead he clicked the radio to a different channel to silence it, and began to scan the sky ahead. If the German aircraft was low above the sea, its camouflage could make it very difficult to see, especially when closing head to head with a combined speed of well over 400 knots. The sun was out, though, so Bob focused on the surface of the sea, looking out for the dark shadow the German aircraft would cast.

There! Was that it? Yes, it was. Bob’s focus moved up from the shadow speeding across the sea towards him to the aircraft casting it. It was nearly two years since Bob had last fired the guns of an aircraft in anger, and the rate of closure astonished him. There was a brief sparkle of tracer fire. It came from the bomber’s rear-facing gun rather than a nose gun, as Bob had expected, but there was no time to think that through.

With the enemy aircraft almost filling his gunsight, Bob pressed the trigger and felt the recoil through the Hurricane as its eight machine guns fired. The Ju 88 really was very close now, and Bob realised he’d misjudged the closing speed. His fire ripped through the glass nose of the German aircraft and then the cockpit canopy above it. The aircraft seemed to lurch downwards, and that was probably what saved Bob from colliding with it. He felt his buttocks clench involuntarily as his aircraft passed a few feet over the Ju 88 and he caught a glimpse of an explosion in his mirror, just as a dark shape passed directly over his cockpit. ‘What the...?’

‘Wick Tower to Annan callsign. Are you receiving?’

Bob had switched the radio back to the correct frequency. ‘Roger. Annan Nine Five Nine receiving. Sorry about that, I had some radio trouble.’