BOB User Stories: The Lottery of Life

Our Spitfires float easily over a flat expanse of Channel. Behind us Dover’s chalky white cliffs hug tight to the green coast of summertime England. Ahead lie France and the Luftwaffe. Somewhere in between the two landmasses enemy fighters are believed to be searching for us as we also diligently scan the sky ahead in a desperate search for them. It is true that RADAR is an advantage for the RAF flyers but every pilot knows it is sometimes just blind luck when the two sides actually meet.

It is not enough just to find your enemy across a vast expanse of empty sky. The real trick, the art, the arse saving genius of it all, is in so contriving that many elements including chance favor your side. You must maneuver in such a way that your side meets the enemy when you have the advantage of surprise, height, sun and speed. In order for all this to conveniently come together for your personal wartime enjoyment requires great cunning and skill as well. Unfortunately Messieurs. Cunning and Skill are not flying with us today.
Today we are vectored toward France in hopes of surprising as much liquid fertilizer as possible out of a considerable number of unfriendly chaps riding in a large mixed bag of He111s, JU87s and Me110s. They are thought to be eagerly assembling over the Frog coast at this moment. It is early morning and we are on our merry way toward angels 20 where our flight should be well positioned to give the Hun a very nasty surprise. Our blood is up as there are several newly dug graves attesting to the brazen success of a similar German bombing raid just yesterday. This was a raid that happened to fall upon our own unsuspecting airfield. One of the dear departed chaps now only recently re-assembled in his various chewed up pieces ranging from the very small to the rather largish and certainly more grizzly chunks was once our very popular skipper. This man had both cunning and skill. Revenge will be our next meal and it is a repast that weighs heavily upon everyone’s mind.

The skipper had always been considered by us to be the most fortunate of men. He had been born to a family of great wealth and influence. His first breath was that of rarified ozone inhaled whilst perched upon one of the loftiest rungs of the British Empire’s social ladder. Although he grew up smothered in the lap of luxury where no whim went unanswered and no thirst went unquenched he luckily managed, against considerable odds, to grow into a generous, level headed, unpretentious, even self-effacing young man. He attended the finest schools and upon his reaching maturity one would have unhesitatingly bet the farmstead that this young gentleman’s future success was more than reasonably assured.

Then war filled the 120 point boldface headlines for just about everyone. War has a nasty habit of rearranging ones stars to better fit the galaxy of the greater good. In doing so war sometimes leaves all previous hopes for a happy future lying about in miserable shreds and shambles. Somehow our skipper left the promise of assured greatness behind, rose above it all, joined the RAF and showed a huge talent as a leader of men. With 8 personal kills to his credit he was perhaps no threat to the high scoring giants like Johnson or Stanford-Tuck yet he was by virtue of his own personal example an inspiration to all who knew him.

He was British through and through and so very proud of it. Woe betide the unfortunate individual who made even the most trivial of unpatriotic remark within his hearing.We all suspect that there are bloody fly blown hides still hanging in mute but softly dripping testament to his patriotic zeal in secret places all over England. He was a force to be reckoned with and mightily proud we were that he was our skipper. He fought with us and he fought for us. We loved him for it. And now as we glide upward toward our first battle without him we must accept that his hotly beating heart is stilled forever.
This man always considered himself so very fortunate to be born British. I wonder had he been born an American or of any nationality other than British might he not find it his good fortune simply to continue living? Ah, would remaining alive by virtue of being born under any other flag than England’s ever have been compensation enough for a man like our skipper? Like Cecil Rhodes he believed he was fortunate among all men to be born British and for this favor no price, even that of his life, was too great a price to pay. He has fully paid that price. Tally Ho! Sixty -plus bogies at twelve o’clock! Red Flight you take the bombers. Blue Flight, we’ll take on the escort. Turning now!

“Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.” – Cecil Rhodes