The man who fell out of the sky

Sergeant Rufus Arthur Ward was killed in October 1940, when his plane was shot down in an air battle over Fort Borstal, near Rochester.

Tuesday October 8th, 1940.  Overcast, unremarkable at any time but this. The 91st day of the Battle of Britain. Above cloud, the ra-ta-tat of Messerschmidt, Spitfire, Hurricane. 

At the fort, men lift their eyes heavenwards.

 

Smoking, spiralling from the dullness, your plane tumbles and screams towards them, flips, and crashes against the prison wall. 

 

What was that? Something else fell.  Something small, hard, black.

 

The search goes out.  And they find you, driven into earth, limbs broken, body burned. Age 23.

 

October 8th, grey autumn day, a Borstal field.  The end of your war.