Last Thursday we were delighted to be invited to the world premiere of the new blockbuster film, Dunkirk in London's Leicester Square. We were thrilled to take World War Two Spitfire pilot Allan Scott DFM with us as we mingled with stars of the film and other celebrities on the red carpet.
Dunkirk tells the story from three perspectives – the land, sea and air – of the evacuation of more than 330,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk during the Second World War.
Written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan, the film has a star-studded cast including Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.
We were honoured to accompany 95-year-old World War Two Spitfire pilot Allan Scott DFM. Allan was posted to Biggin Hill in 1941 at the tail end of the Battle of Britain with 124 Squadron. He then spent six months in Malta, which was under siege with continual raids by the Luftwaffe.
He served there with 603 Squadron and then, when that disbanded, with 1435 Squadron at Luqa airfield, before returning to Britain and flying a third tour of operations, switching from his beloved Spitfire to a long-range Mustang fighter.
Talking about the evening Allan said: "It was a wonderful night; I've not been to London since the late forties so Leicester Square has changed a bit! When I was based at Biggin Hill, the furthest away we got was Bromley."
A huge crowd turned out to see the star-studded red carpet, including hundreds of screaming girls waiting to catch a glimpse of their idol, Harry Styles.
Allan continued: "I've never seen so many people in all my life and the noise was something else!"
During the Second World War, a myth began to circulate that the RAF did not do enough to protect the troops trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk and the fleet of vessels trying to evacuate them, which was hinted at in the film. The RAF, however, were facing numerous challenges as the German Luftwaffe sought to dominate the skies over northern France and with limited resources they provided what manpower they could to support the troops over Dunkirk.
Talking about Tom Hardy's character, Farrier, who flew a Spitfire in the film, Allan who finished the war with 13 kills and several probable said: "He had quite a few misses; he should have allowed a bit more deflection. If I'd been flying that Spit I would have shot those aircraft down a bit quicker!"
Allan got behind the controls of a Spitfire earlier this year at Biggin Hill and is hoping to return to Malta this summer to mark the 75th anniversary of the siege.