For six years I wrote a short history
article in the monthly parish magazine,
The Pelican. One of the articles is
shown in the column opposite.
Articles can be accessed by
clicking on the appropriate title from
the index below.
If anyone has any old photographs or
parish information which they would like
recorded (for present and future
generations to share) then please get in
touch with me.
John Davison (Website Co-ordinator)
August 2010 marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of
Britain, an anniversary that was rightly commemorated
especially to remember those who served in the RAF and
who fought so bravely and gave their lives. The Battle
of Britain was without doubt one of the major Allied
victories in the war because had it been lost then the
outcome would have been tragic for this country. Many
people might assume that the battle was fought
exclusively in the South East but on 15th August 1940 a
huge attack was launched by the Luftwaffe against the
North East…. and RAF Acklington was at the very heart of
the action. Here are some memories of ninety year old
Nigel Drever, one of “The Few” spitfire pilots who took
part in this historic event and who was later shot down
by the Luftwaffe, captured and taken to prisoner of war
camp Stalag Luft III where he was part of The Great
Memories of a Second World War RAF Spitfire pilot
"I was just 19 when I got my RAF wings on the
day war broke out in September 1939 and training was
tough and disciplined.
Less than a year later I was posted to RAF Acklington
and joined 610 Squadron a month before the Battle of
Britain when the Germans mounted a heavy air attack in
an attempt to gain superiority in the sky.
The Spitfire was magnificent to fly, so agile and easy
to handle. When you got in the cockpit it was like the
aircraft became part of your body. The speed was
incredible and your reactions had to be lightning fast
to avoid flak and the enemy fire of the Messerschmitt
BF109. We were up and down, rolling left to right. Both
the Me-109 and Spitfire were similar in performance and
each side would look to anything to give them a tactical
advantage. I continued to fly various sorties until
March 1941 when I was shot down in a Spitfire MkII by a
Me-109. There were flames in the cockpit and as they got
higher I bailed out, landing in France.
My parachute got badly tangled up in a large oak tree
but eventually my body weight dragged me through the
leaves to the ground. I was captured by the Germans and
confronted by a commandant who took me for a meal and
appeared to be showing me off like a hunter with its
prey before I was imprisoned.
I was taken to the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp
on the Polish border and about 100 miles south east of
Berlin. It became known for The Great Escape which was
conceived in March 1944 and I helped to dig the tunnel.
It was only 2ft square, dark, wet and difficult to
breathe. It took a year to construct and it was agreed
only a third of the 600 men who worked on it would be
able to escape.
Some were guaranteed while the others drew lots. I was
unsuccessful but maybe I would not be here today if I
had. Of the 76 men who crawled their way to freedom only
three made it back to the UK. The rest were either
captured or killed.
I remained at the camp until the end of the war
whereupon all the prisoners were taken on what became
known as the Long March, trudging through the snow in
the bitter cold. One by one the German guards began to
fall away until there were none.
We were left to find our own way back to Britain,
scrimping along the way. One kind local gave me a leg of
ham as we made our way back home.
The war was finally over.”
Officer salutes a spitfire at Acklington Airfield during
the Battle of Britain