Samantha announced her arrival at the Mercury office with the usual crash of the door, following her weekend spent in Sussex with her parents. She greeted Charlie as she went past on the way to her desk.
‘Morning, Samantha. How did your weekend go with your family?’ Charlie enquired.
‘Great thanks. It was good to see them again.’
Charlie felt a pang of sadness as he had no family to speak of other than his twin brother.
‘Are you still planning to do a story on the Battle of Britain?’ asked Samantha.
‘Yes, but not if I can’t find a good source that’s still alive and hasn’t told their story before.’
‘Well I think I may on to something.’ chortled Samantha.
‘Really? Someone you met in Worthing.’ quizzed Charlie.
‘C’mon, spill the beans, Sam.’
‘Patience is a virtue.’ she teased.
‘I found my grandmother’s old diary and reading the first pages, it looks like it’s got an interesting story inside.’
‘What’s that then?’ asked Charlie, looking up in interest from the work on his desk.
‘It’s about my great uncle John Faulkner who was a fighter pilot in the RAF. He shot down one of the first enemy aircraft of the war for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and guess what, he flew during the Battle of Britain.’
‘What, he’s still alive, Sam?’
‘No, he got shot down and killed during the Battle.’
‘Oh, I thought you said you’d found something.’
‘I have, if you’ll let me finish, Charlie.’
’Strewth, did I hear right? That’s the first time you’ve called me that. Wonders will never cease!
‘Don’t raise your hopes, it was a mistake. According to gran’s diary, he was court martialed and stripped of his award.’
‘I suppose it will make a change from the other investigations I’ve done, considering they were all alive!’ chuckled Charlie.
Samantha laughed. ‘I want to do the story with you. It is my diary you know!’
‘OK, it’s a deal.’
‘Maybe you can get some info on him from the internet or that museum I saw in Hawkinge.’ suggested Sam.
’Good idea, but we’ve got a load of work to get through today to make the deadline. We’d better get stuck in and I’ll call it later.
Later that evening, the impatient ring of the telephone interrupted Dave Brocklehurst’s thoughts. Looking up at the time on the authentic RAF clock hanging on the wall, he picked up the handset.
‘Good evening, Dave Brocklehurst.’
‘Good evening, Mr Brocklehurst. My name is Charlie Britton. I’m a reporter on the Kent Mercury and I know it’s rather late but I understand you’re the man to contact on anything concerning the Battle of Britain?’
‘Depends on what you want to know. But it’s only fair to warn you the press have misquoted me so many times in the past that I don’t give interviews over the phone.’
‘Consider I’ve been warned.’ chuckled Charlie.
’I wanted to know if you have any information on a pilot in the RAF called John Faulkner for a local interest story I’m doing?
‘Go on.’ said Dave, eyeing the clock, his stomach rumbling reminding him he still had to cook some dinner for himself.
‘I understand Flying Officer John Faulkner was a pilot in 79 Squadron stationed at Hawkinge for a short period during the war.’ stated Charlie, from information he had found earlier on the internet, but had found little else about the man.
‘That’s correct. What do you want to know about him?’ Dave enquired.
‘Well, if you could give me some background on him it would help with the story.’
At this point in the conversation, Dave became cautious for he knew that the pilot in question had been court martialed during the early part of the war. Could this be what the reporter was really investigating, he wondered?
‘Well if I help it will only be on the strict understanding that any information I give will remain unchanged in the final proof of your story.’ stated Dave.
‘You drive a hard bargain but I think I can agree to your terms. When will you have time to see me?’
A thought suddenly struck Dave,
‘You wouldn’t have a dark room for processing old film in your newspaper offices, would you?’
‘Well, now you mention it, yes we have. John Snowdon, our resident photographer, collects old cameras and develops the films in what used to be our darkroom.’
‘What are the chances of getting an old film developed tomorrow morning? I’m going into Dover tomorrow to pick up some printing for the museum.’
‘Let me get on to John. I’m sure it will be all right and while he’s sorting your film, we can have a chat about that pilot.’
’I can make it to your offices by around ten o’clock?
‘Sounds good to me. See you tomorrow, then.’
Dave replaced the handset and picked up the miniature camera, turning it over in his hands and wondering if the film had survived all the years underground. Would it reveal any secrets, he thought.