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"Life went on as normal during the Battle"

The late Wing Commander Bob Foster reveals how although fighter pilots were treated like heroes, life went on as usual for everyone as the Battle raged in the skies above them.

"People would buy you pints of beer when you went in the pub, which was all very welcome," says Foster.

"Of course, people had their own worries at the time. I think that we were appreciated but I don't think people quite knew what it was all about. They all had their own jobs to do. Life went on as normal as it could during the Battle.

"People had to go to work. They had to take kids to school, if they hadn't been evacuated. Apart from looking up and seeing the battle that was going on, people tried to carry on with their normal lives during the day. Later on, we got the night blitz, which was another thing."

Foster was flying Hawker Hurricanes out of Croydon in September and October 1940 as the Luftwaffe turned their attention from trying to knock out Fighter Command to bombing Britain's towns and cities.

He tells a story of the incongruous nature of fighting an intense air battle on home soil, with people trying to live normal lives below.

"I remember once when I was taking off from Croydon over the sports ground with tennis courts, people had stopped playing tennis and waved their racquets and I waved back at them and went on doing my job and they went on doing theirs.

"And I mentioned this to someone a year or so ago and he said: 'What! They were playing tennis while you were fighting the battle?' And I said: 'What did you expect them to do? You couldn't just expect them to stand around waiting!' Life went on; that was it."

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