Spitfire QV N3200 Graphics Set

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In the summer of 1940, a massive operation was underway to evacuate the British Army from the beaches and harbour at Dunkirk, France.

Hundreds of thousands of troops, including French and Belgians, had been cut off and were surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France.

Death or capture seemed the most likely outcome.

However, salvation would come during Operation Dynamo at the end of May that year, as dozens of 'little ships' crossed the English Channel to aid the evacuation process.

And among the brave pilots who protected the vessels - mainly private fishing or pleasure boats - and Allied forces from the Luftwaffe was Geoffrey Dalton Stephenson in his Spitfire.

The Commanding Officer of 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford, he was shot down in combat on May 26 while flying his Supermarine Spitfire MK1 N3200.

Stephenson had to ditch his plane after bullets hit the radiator - forcing him to crash-land on a beach at Sangatte, near Calais,

He was soon captured by the Germans and became a POW.

Stephenson tried and failed to escape several times, and was moved to Colditz Castle.

After the war, he continued to fly for the RAF and rose to the rank of Air Commodore.

Tragically, he died in November 1954, at the age of 44, while test flying a Super Sabre as part of an exchange trip with the US Air Force.

Meanwhile, his plane, became slowly buried under the sand.

It was eventually recovered in 1986 and restored.