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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 91 - He Did Not Die Alone

...Sydney died bravely as you would expect. Like the rest of us, he did what he had to do and showed no fear. Above all, I want you to know that. Please tell his father and sisters that. He was a first-class comrade and flier...

John Illingworth has to pen the letter he never wished to write.

John Waddington-Feather continues his gripping story. To read earlier episodes please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

"My dearest Sarah," the letter began. "How can I possibly put into words what I feel and what I have to tell you? Sydney told you he would be in action as soon as we returned from leave, and yesterday we were in the thick of it again. I'll come at once to the point, Sarah. I regret, more than I can say, to have to inform you that Sydney was killed in action yesterday. After the happy time we all had on leave only two days ago, this will come as a great shock, but I wanted to be the first to tell you before the official announcement comes through.

We were in the air together and I saw it all. If it's any comfort he must have died instantly. Two others were killed on the same sortie and I have to write to their next-of-kin, so of necessity this letter will be brief. I'll tell you more when we meet.

Sydney died bravely as you would expect. Like the rest of us, he did what he had to do and showed no fear. Above all, I want you to know that. Please tell his father and sisters that. He was a first-class comrade and flier.

You know I dreaded this happening when he came to us. Now it has, I take some comfort that at least we were together when he died, flying side by side as we so often did before the war. In that sense he did not die alone and, of course, he will always remain alive in my heart. He spoke constantly of you and his son and I've always felt that I've shared the deep love he held for you both and for his family. I shall bring his personal effects on my next leave, which, pray God, will be shortly.

Please forgive the brevity of this letter. I know you'll understand why I can't write more. You are very much in my thoughts and prayers, Sarah. God bless you and comfort you. John."

He put down his pen, sealed the envelope and sighed wearily, murmuring "And God help us all - if there is a God still up there." He had considered that often. Now he had become too cynical and world-weary to consider it more. He felt numb, empty, too numb to think further. He staggered to his feet exhausted and having undressed, flung himself on his bed and
fell asleep. It was the only escape from his grief.

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