the friendly skies


…………….or unfriendly skies…………..

I don’t know who owns the sky . Militarists establish what they call ” no -fly zones ” , but I’ve never had anything to do with any of that .

Maybe there’s a no -fly zone over my house . I hope so . Maybe , I’d better say , I maybe hope so , just maybe ;  because now that I think of it , I wouldn’t want someone getting shot out of the sky over my house just because he/she happened to wander into my airspace .

The only aircraft that I’ve seen over my house , I mean directly over my house , to tell you the truth , was the bat-wing Northrup Grumman B-2 stealth bomber . It flew silently along one sunny morning a few years ago , swung around and came over the house again . I called Ada out to the front yard to see it . It was impressive. For $732 million it should be !  We could easily see it , but radar couldn’t , I suppose . It was silent and eerie , but there it was .

It didn’t bomb us .  I wouldn’t expect it to . It’ll be a drone that’ll bomb us , if anything does . That’s what I think . Maybe one of those fucking  persistent contractors who keep calling , trying to drum up work for themselves fixing up my house will finally have had enough of my putting them off and repeating “no,no,no” and they’ll wander over to Target or Home Depot or someplace and buy a cheap little bomber drone and attack my house in cold-blooded retribution.    Who knows ?

My friend in Poland who lives upstairs , who originally found us our Polish apartment , and who cares for our place when we’re not there , and who painted it , asked me to write something in my blog about his uncle , a Polish pilot who fought in the Second World War in the British air force . The uncle  married an English woman during the war  and stayed over there on that island  . Maybe my friend wants me to write something about Brexit and the anti-immigrant backlash in Britain of late .15356149_10154858384084306_1970463303_n

” I want you to write about my family ” , he said .  So I’ll take a stab at it .15415959_10154858390944306_1550264599_n

There’s something about winning a war . ( Nowadays we just fight endless wars with no markers of victory . Victory seems not to be the point .)  Americans think we won the Second World War . We think we won the Great War , too , for that matter , the First World War . The textbooks in American schools say so . I once had a brilliant eighth grade student who’d been raised in India who eloquently told me off one day in class about the textbook’s implication  that the British didn’t have much to do with fighting the war . Her impassioned and assertive lecture was delivered in a beautiful British accent and she was right ,of course . She said that the Brits did help us Yanks a bit during WWII .15355987_10154858379069306_1900738954_n


Which brings me a bit awkwardly to a discussion of the  involvement of the Polish pilots during the war who helped the Brits , for example , beat the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940 . The resulting victory is credited with saving Britain from a Nazi invasion .15416890_10154858375899306_545895086_n

My Polish friend sent me an article about all of this . Evidently the Brits didn’t relish at the outset the idea of these foreign pilots joining their ranks in the skies above , but  the necessity forced their hand . There were not enough British pilots , and there were trained Polish pilots  ready and willing and anxious to fight the nation that had invaded and occupied their homeland .

My friend Willie , formerly from London , had an English  father who flew a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain . Willie says his father praised the Polish pilots . They wouldn’t shut up , he said , constantly chattering during missions , but they were skilled , aggressive ,  and deadly . Most of the Polish pilots were older that the British pilots , more experienced in aerial combat , many of them no doubt better pilots .

So the question I’ll pose is : How much did Britain depend on the Polish pilots to save their country back in the 1940s  ,  or did the heroic Brits win it all by themselves ?  Perhaps  the Battle of Britain would have been lost without help from the Polish pilots .

Mostly , it seems , during and immediately after the war  the Polish were appreciated , honored , and welcomed by the British .


My Polish friend visited his uncle in England several years ago . The old man had by then established an extensive British branch of the Bromwich family . He had begun as a wartime refugee from a conquered land , his country later controlled by Communists where native  war heroes were not welcomed back because they represented a potential threat to the newly established Communist government .

His uncle  had adopted a new country that he had played a large part in helping  save from defeat .



Filed under humor

7 responses to “the friendly skies

  1. The notion that we did/do these thing by ourselves varies in absurdity with the way we define “ourselves.” I hear different people explain wars and battles and science and just about everything, but they leave somebody out of the discussion. One that always amazes me is how “we put a man on the moon” – I think we had a little help from a few Germans on that one.

    Great post Dan!

  2. An excellent story for your friend’s family and their contributions, Dan.

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