SLIPPING SOME SURLIES
This Supermarine Type 329 Spitfire Mk I ( R6835) of No. 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron descends over Hornchurch in August 1940 after an exuberant early morning loop.
XT-W is flown by Flying Officer Brian Carbury, a New Zelander, who was credited with shooting down eight Messerschmitt Bf-109s during the summer of 1940. Five of the kills, including two He-111s, came on 31 August, making him one of three ‘aces in a day.”
On the last of three flights that day, after shooting down two 109s, the aircraft was struck with a 20mm round which caused an oxygen bottle to explode, badly damaging the aircraft.
Carbury brought the aircraft back, and although his feet were badly injured in an other aircraft, he went on to receive credit for 15 aircraft destroyed, two shared destroyed, 2 probables, and 5 damaged. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar, one of only five pilots to receive the double award for victories during the Battle of Britain.
‘Slipping Some Surlies’ is an irreverent reference to the line in American aviator and poet John Gillespie Magee’s famous poem ‘High Flight.” Penned in August of 1941, Magee was killed in a Spitfire VZ-H a few months later at age 19.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”