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The Imperial War Museum - What was life like during the Battle of Britain?
The Battle of Britain is widely acknowledged as the finest moment of the RAF's illustrious century in the skies.The question often overlooked is: what life was like for those fighting on the front line?
Born in 1905, Guy Mayfield was educated at Lancing College and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1930 and became Curate at St John’s, Fitzroy Square, London. He was Chaplain to the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1939 before going on to chaplaincies in Gibraltar and, crucially, RAF Duxford.
Mayfield arrived at RAF Duxford on 2 February 1940 and wrote regular entries in his diary until his last day at Duxford, prior to a posting to Gibraltar, on 2 December 1941. Below are a handful of excerpts of his fascinating diary entries during his time at Duxford. Now collated and published, you can order your copy of Life and Death in the Battle of Britain here.
Battle of Britain Air Show
Duxford, now part of Imperial War Museums, has been part of the RAF story for 100 years and we are proud to be an official partner of RAF100 for the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show on 22 and 23 September.
2 February 1940 (documenting Mayfield’s arrival at Duxford) I was taken across the road to the Mess. The doctor, Browne, also R.A.F.V.R., in the ante room, gave me a very cold and clinical look and exclaimed, “My God! What next? A bloody parson!” But when he saw me drink gin, he unbent…”
3 May 1940 (on friendship and camaraderie) “…Love and life are flying away. Life at Old Catton and here is “Beer today and gone tomorrow”. 19 is a good squadron and I am fond of them all but, oh, to have known them and their prestige and pride in the days of peace when there wasn’t any hurry because death wasn’t near.” . 31 December 1940 (on celebrating New Year's Eve) “…I hadn’t the heart to sing Auld Lang Syne in the bloody world as it now is. There is no time for “old acquaintance”. Who’ll be left to remember? If it is remembered next year, how much of it without bitterness and sadness, how much of it will be a remembrance of times lost, of things left unsaid and unshared?”