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Spirit of the Blue
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Few RAF pilots flew operationally from the beginning to the end of the Second World War. Fewer still can claim to have experienced action from Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, El Alamein and the D-Day landings, to bomber escort duty in the closing days of the war in Europe. Peter Ayerst is one such man and his tale is, as yet, untold. Peter joined the RAF in 1938 on a short service commission and was dispatched to France when war broke out. After serving with legendary fighter ace Douglas Bader, Peter was posted to North Africa in 1942 where he was forced to crash-land his Hurricane in a mine field. Peter flew Spitfires on intruder sorties over France before and during D-Day, on bomber escort duty against V-weapons sites and in support of mass daylight raids deep into Germany. Awarded the DFC in December 1944, he also flew as fighter escort to King George VI's Dakota. By the war's end, Peter had flown every mark of Spitfire and Hurricane in the RAF's inventory! This stood him in good stead after the war when he worked with famous test pilot Alex Henshaw: he was part of the flight-test crew when Henshaw rolled a Lancaster.
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