NEVER  BEEN  HIT

 

An Australian Fighter Pilot’s Story

by

Peter R. Fitton

Insignia of 66 Squadron.   A coiled Rattle Snake with the moto:       Beware, I have warned.

 

Les’s beloved flying scarf.   Part of a silk parachute he was given in Quebec Province, Canada following a bale-out.

Never Been Hit   is a story about Australian fighter pilot, Flying Officer Leslie Theodore Streete who flew Mk XVI Spitfires.    He had been a country boy from New South Wales.  Les transferred from the Australian Infantry Forces to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1943.

The book presents his journey, from preliminary flight training at Narromine, a country town in New South Wales, to becoming a fighter pilot.   From the relative safety of Australia, Les makes the risky voyage across the Pacific Ocean and on to Canada where he receives advanced flight training at Dunnville and Bagotville, Canada.

From there he voyages across the Atlantic to Britain where he undergoes further training before his posting to 66 Squadron R.A.F. By late 1944 66 Squadron is based at Grimbergen, Belgium and is operating as an international squadron.

Les flies the clipped wing Mk XVI Spitfire, configured for low level dive bombing operations, on patrols over Belgium and Holland as his squadron drives the enemy back towards Germany.

As Les powers his Spitfire around Belgium, Holland and Germany during the Battle of the Bulge and the Great Rhine Crossing, he witnesses the unfolding collapse of the once mighty Wehrmacht.   Many of his mates went west, but through skill, luck and tenacity, Les becomes one of the lucky ones.

Reference to the scarf was on account of it being part of Les’s parachute.    He had baled out over the frozen tundra in Canada.    One of his flying boots had fallen off and his exposed foot was near frozen.   He tore off part of his parachute and wrapped it around his foot, then made his way through the snow to a cabin where two startled ladies greeted him.    They took the piece of parachute away and turned it into a scarf, not before embroidering a corner with the French words, “this saved my life on 20 March 1944.”  Les never flew again without his scarf.

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