Private Project

To Fly, To Fight and To Save

Pre-1939: Young Churchgoer John follows in his father’s footsteps and learns to fly. He also trains at Bible College and accepts a post as Deputy Pastor in the English village of Oakleigh. During this time, following the vicious actions of local bully Steven Taylor, John meets beautiful young Ruth, to whom he is immediately attracted, and they later become engaged. Taylor interrupts their wedding, but is apprehended by Ruth’s disabled father, who suffers a heart attack as a consequence. Taylor is ousted from the ceremony by John's Best Man, Cecil.
1939/1940: War is declared, and John’s peaceable nature arouses hostility. Taylor becomes the leader of a rebel Mosleyite group, and at a riotous meeting he takes revenge on John by firing his pistol. Fortunately John is only slightly wounded, and Taylor is shot dead by one of the group of villagers and police trying to break up the meeting. John decides to join the RAF, and is accepted into Fighter Command. He goes through training, and is posted to a weary French Canadian squadron, where he learns to speak French. Unfortunately he misses his daughter’s birth. At first, he also finds it difficult to fight and kill as a pilot.
1941: John’s squadron is posted to North Africa, where his colleagues find it hard to understand how he can be so ruthless in the air, yet show such Christian understanding on the ground. His colleague Johnny Baird finds romance and claims it's because of his colleague's love potion. In Oakleigh, an infiltrator is discovered and arrested.
In December John is posted home for a rest, and he takes the Christmas Service. Ruth has also accepted Ruby, an evacuee child from Bristol, into her care.
1943: Later in 1943 the squadron is given Bomber Escort duties from an airfield in England.
1944: On a mission in March, John’s Spitfire is shot down over France. He escapes from the crashed aircraft. Wounded, he is cared for at a French convent. Because of his pastoral and French language skills and, after having to face a trial in front of members of the French Resistance, and with the help of the local priest, John impersonates a Catholic trainee priest for 10 months. At home, Ruth’s concern is growing and her faith is waning. John’s friend and former Best Man decides to make advances at Ruth, an act to which she expresses some anger.
1945: The Ardennes battle is over, and American units are advancing. One German soldier realises that the war is lost, so goes to the French church because he wants a church assistant to take him to the Americans to surrender. Still disguised, John does this, then suddenly reveals his true identity to the amazement and disbelief of the American officers. Passage home is then arranged, but kept secret.

  • Richard Bemand
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    United Kingdom
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Writer Biography - Richard Bemand

Grew up in a rural area, English, Graphic Design and Screenwriting qualifications. Interested in military history.

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Writer Statement

This script was inspired by the book I wrote and, as well as being historically accurate, covers the emotional life of a village at war, together with the triumphs and tragedies that my hero, John Wilkins, has to face.