Pilot Cadet Memi entered the Commander’s office, marched to the desk, saluted, stamped her foot and kicked herself in the ankle. It really hurt but, being brave, she didn’t flinch.
The Commander, Old Squinty as he was known, looked at her over the top of his glasses.
“You’re a disgrace, Memi, an absolute disgrace. When you scramble to fight Germans you don’t run away and fly back to base.”
“It started raining, sah!”
“I’d left my washing out, sah!”
“My favourite lingerie, sah!”
Old squinty turned red, then purple.
“You’re here to fight Germans. Not flounce around in lingerie. If your father wasn’t Air Marshall I’d have you thrown out. You’re a disgrace. Now get out of my office.”
“Don’t keep saying sah!”
When Pilot Cadet Memi left HQ she heard the wail of the scramble siren and saw all the other pilots running to the airfield. She ran to her plane, clambered in and strapped herself into the seat. She checked her lipstick in her mirror, and noticed something that shook her to the very core of her being – a dreadful hair growing out of her chin. What on earth was happening? She’d never had these sort of problems before. She had no tweezers with her. Whatever would she do if she got shot down and all the land girls ran to rescue her. She’d have to remember to keep her chin covered up. How silly to have a uniform with lots of pockets and no tweezers as standard issue.
The mechanic shouted, “Chocks away!” She thought he meant someone had some chocolates, so she leaned out of the cockpit and asked politely, “Can I have a praline, please?”
“Get this plane moving!”
So Memi trundled the plane along the runway and followed the others into the sky. She was surprised they allowed her to fly a Spitfire, especially as she came here for a job as a secretary. They obviously considered that, as her father was Lord Chief Right Honourable Air Lord Memi, she should be given more responsibility. Which was fine, except she wasn’t very good at flying.
Once she was in the air the worries about her chin came back to her. She felt the hair on her chin. My god, it was huge. It had grown an inch just while the plane took off. Her headphones crackled, and she flinched from the noise.
“Bandits ahead. Ten o’clock.”
She checked her watch. Half past two. She could never understand why everyone got the time wrong when they were flying. All the other planes suddenly veered off to the left, so she followed them. Weeee, she liked this bit, although sometimes they went too fast and it made her feel queasy. Then the planes started shooting their guns. It was so noisy. She whirled her plane round and searched for a Messerschmitt to shoot at.
What if she shot a plane down and it was a good looking German pilot. Everyone said all the Germans were evil but, before the war, she had been friends with a German and he was gorgeous. When he went home she was heartbroken. What if she shot down a gorgeous pilot and he survived; she could go and see him in hospital and say, ‘sorry I shot you down, maybe I could take you out for dinner to show I didn’t mean it’. And he’d look up from his hospital bed, see her hairy chin, and shout, Aaaaargh!
She’d have to get this hair out. She squeezed it tight between her thumb and forefinger and pulled hard. Her hand slipped and smashed into the steering wheel thingy and the plane went into a spin. Oops, she didn’t even have time to check if her chin was smooth before she saw a German plane straight in front of her. She wanted to honk the horn, get out of the way, but her plane didn’t have a horn to honk. She crashed into the German just as she thought it might be a good idea to bail out.
As she floated down in her parachute she wondered if the German pilot had done the same. They could float down together, and he would smile at her, glad to be out of the war, and shout, Ich liebe dich. She’d smile back. And when they landed she’d take him prisoner and ask for him to be assigned as her personal servant. As she was imagining him feeding her grapes she crashed into a tree.
When she awoke she saw a nurse leaning over her.
“How are we feeling?” asked the nurse.
“I don’t know about you,” said Memi, “but I’ve got a bit of a headache.”
“Your Commander is here to see you.”
Memi turned to see Old Squinty. He was smiling, but it was more like a grimace.
“Pilot Cadet Memi, I have pleasure in informing you that you have been promoted to Pilot Officer, and your outstanding bravery, which saved the life of your Squadron Leader and downed the German ace Hans Schicklgruber, is to be rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Medal.”
“Oh,” said Memi, “I saved the Leader?”
“The German was on his tail and he was a sitting duck till you swung into the Messerschmitt and chopped off his wing.”
“And the German?”
“He’s a prisoner.”
“Is he married?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know.”
Pilot first class Memi went to see Hans Schicklgruber, but he was old and wrinkly and not really her type. She was a bit disappointed.
Once she’d recovered from her injuries, she bought some very nice tweezers and returned to her RAF camp to continue flying. She never shot down any planes, nor did she meet her German Mr Right. But she did survive the war and had a medal to prove her bravery. Now she sits with her grandchildren and tells them tales of how she won the war.
Samantha Memi is a highly decorated, world renowned fighter ace. Her exploits in the Second World War inspired hundreds of women to avoid the RAF and join the Navy instead. Her wartime achievements can be found at http://samanthamemi.weebly.com/.