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John D Salt

303 Polish Squadron, hurrah! “For Our Freedom, and Yours”.

Back in 1980, I spent a year in Auchel in the Pas de Calais as an English language assitant, and was a regular in Charly’s Bar, run by this very expert gallant gentleman:


He was too young to get into the fight until 1943, but he had flown Hurricanes, Spitfires and Mustangs (models of which adorned the bar) with 303 Squadron, and still spoke perfect 1940s RAF English. His wife Raymonde and her mum both served behind the bar. One evening when a mysterious black-clad figure arrived and stood at a deserted end of the bar, Charly rushed over to him, exchanged a few words of greeting, and popped a glass of Bordeaux on the bar. When the black-clad stranger left a short while later, without us having seen any money change hands, one of us asked “Who’s that weird old fella, then? Doesn’t he pay for his drinks?” Charly replied “That’s the man who ran the resistance cell that kept me from the Gestapo. No, he never pays for his drinks”.

Hard to think that it’s been 15 years since he got his last set of wings.

All the best,