By Richard Senate
In 1940 thru 1941 the battle of Britain was waged between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe over control of the skies over England. Toward the end of the conflict London, a city of nine million people, was targeted for aerial bombardment in the hopes it would break the spirit of the English people. Thousands died as Londoners packed the subways seeking protection for the bombings above. In this monumental conflict a strange rumor began to circulate among the people.
They were stories of a bizarre warplane seen battling the German planes above England. It was described as a World War One fighter plane with two wings and fixed landing gear coming out of the sky shooting down German Bombers! Some even said it was the ghost of World War One British Ace Jimmy McCudden (Known as Mick) who won the Victoria Cross in the skies above the Western Front for shooting down fifty-seven Huns before he was shot down in flames in 1918. His body was never found. They whispered that his ghost and plane had returned to help defend England from the new German menace. Perhaps the rumor gave comfort to the huddle civilians who heard the bombs detonating above them? Perhaps the idea of a famed Hero of the last war, coming back from the great beyond to fight the enemies of Britain, was a sign of supernatural assistance? Perhaps it was just a story put out by the English Government to comfort the people in a time of great trial. Or maybe it was true and a ghost plane was engaging German warplanes? But could there be another more rational explanation?
As the Battle of Britain cost more and more Luftwaffe planes in 1941 Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring urged Adolph Hitler to pressure Italy's Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, to send his war planes to help in the fight against the Royal Air Force. At last Italy's Il Duce sent twenty bombers and forty fighters to escort them. They flew out of airbases in Belgium to attack England. The pilots were ill trained, and the ships painted in bright Mediterranean colors. The fighter planes were Fiat CR 42 (falco) --biplanes with open cockpits and fixed landing gear, only improve versions of the fighters used in the First World War.
They were no match for the Hurricanes and Spitfires of the RAF and were shot down in what the English pilots called "The Spaghetti Party". The Italian units were withdrawn after several ineffective raids. Perhaps the sightings of the Italian biplane fighters by people on the ground was the root cause of the rumor of a ghost plane. Seeing them, so unlike the warplanes used by England and Germany caused them to be mistaken for World War One fighters. Memories of the heroic air ace Jimmy McCudden and his mysterious death was all that was needed. Of course, that is only speculation, and one can not dismiss the possibility that the supernatural did play a part in the victory of England in the Battle of Britain and in the Second World War.