Fighter pilot Alexander Jefferson was on another combat mission in the clear blue skies over the South of France, this time tasked with strafing German radar stations.
Gunning the powerful Rolls-Royce engine of his P-51 Mustang fighter — named Margo — as he flew low over the trees, the American watched impassively as enemy anti-aircraft fire rose up from the ground and tore into his cockpit.
‘It blew the heck out of the airplane,’ he recalls today, seven decades later. ‘The damn shell came up through the floor and went out the top of the canopy. Fire came up out of the floor, I pulled back on the stick to get some altitude and prepared to bail out. When the canopy popped and I came out, I was only at 800ft.’
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