Billy, Billy and Billy

I'm really sorry to hear that Group Captain Billy Drake, DSO, DFC & Bar, passed away on 28 August 2011.  He was a Battle of Britain ace, a wartime hero, a superb pilot and a very brave man.  I had tried to get in touch with him via the Battle of Britain Association and had been unsuccessful, and now that is no longer possible; all I can do is salute him.

But it does leave me free to tell two of Dad's favourite stories, one of which has had a huge influence on our lives.  In the tradition of typically self-deprecating RAF humour, I hope that Billy Drake won't mind me poking a little gentle fun at him.  I think that's the sort of ghost you don't want coming after you.  (And if these stories suddenly vanish from the site, well, you know I've heard a Spitfire in my sleep....!)

Uncle Phil, Dad's younger brother, was too young for WWII, but followed Dad into the RAF after the war.  He qualified as a pilot on fighters and joined Fighter Command as it still was.  He did a fair amount of flying but also seems to have spent quite a bit of time in intelligence at GCHQ Cheltenham.  (I know much less about his career than about Dad's so you will have to excuse the vagueness.)

Anyway: at one point in the mid-1950's, I think while Dad was examining at RAF Dishforth (TCEU), Uncle Phil was posted to a fighter station of which Billy Drake was the Station Commander.

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