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A childhood memory of Sqn Ldr Neville Duke

In the print edition of today’s daily Telegraph there is a splendid obituary of Sqn Ldr Neville Duke, who was decorated six times for gallantry in World War II. (The online obituary, however, is extremely truncated.) We reported his death two days ago, which was actually a day before it was officially announced. Despite being taken ill while flying his wife Gwen, Duke brought her and the plane safely down before collapsing.

On September 6, 1952, I was taken to the Farnborough Air Show by the pilot who lived next door to us. There was a dramatic crash of a deHavilland DH 110 with twenty-eight spectators killed as a result. I clearly remember what seemed to be the engine of the plane crashing into a grassy bank where we had picknicked half an hour previously. What I did not know until I read the obituary today was that Neville Duke was scheduled to take off immediately after the deHavilland in his Hawker. He did so without hesitation as soon as the runway was cleared.

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