"Beaufort", he said, quietly.
"How do you know that?" I wondered aloud.
"When your life depends on it, you learn the voices of friends." And he told me a story.
"On a cold October night in 1941, the people of Nantes (France) heard the far-off rumble of aircraft. The town had been cordoned off by German troops, and a deathly silence and darkness prevailed. Lt. Col. Fritz Hotz, the German commander in Nantes, had been killed by the French Resistance; 50 hostages had then been shot in reprisal. Nantes waited, on its knees.
The British Beauforts flew in formation, impossibly low over the sea. So low, in fact, that the pilots had to pull up at the coastline to avoid the sand dunes and the trees. There was moonlight to navigate by, but the landscape below was shrouded by the blackout. And then an amazing thing happened.
Each village they passed over came alight, as though the approaching aircraft were calling forth the spirit of the people. Doors were opened, and the light streamed out as villagers waved to the bombers overhead. They knew the sound of friendly engines, and though the Beauforts could not save them from their fate this time, those pilots were glad to know that the town derived some comfort from their passing."
Seventy-one years have passed since that night. There are currently no airworthy Beauforts in the world, but if there were then I would wish them to fly over Nantes once again.
In the darkness
along a carpet of twinkling lights
which say please do not forget us.
Psssst! Denise Covey (L'Aussie) included me in her A to Z Challenge theme - Bloggers Were Children Too. I was happy to provide her with one of the more difficult letters - V is for Vooght. If you have the time, stop by and say hello!