Noel Benson, 19, fresh out of school and like most young men of his type, was pretty keen to get in the driver’s seat of his machine and see what it could do. It had a powerful engine and drivers needed nerves of steel, eyes in the back of their head and a steady hand to keep it under control. Eager to show off his prowess to his friends he found himself August evening in a jousting contest with someone who was determined to run him off the road. Noel’s luck ran out that day when his vehicle lost control and ended up in a field near Tenterden in Kent. The force of the crash pushed the engine block back through the dashboard and sliced off the lower half of Noel’s torso. The subsequent fire engulfed the vehicle and before the services could get to the scene both the vehicle and Noel’s body had been reduced to ashes.
Noel was one of those who hadn’t bothered to vote in the last election. He couldn’t. He was under age.
Noel Benson died August 28th 1940, as pilot of a Spitfire (N3105) that had been attacked by a German Bf 109. An eyewitness on the ground saw that the Spitfire, now in flames, drop quickly to 1000 feet before leveling out. He believed the pilot deliberately stayed with the machine to ensure that it didn’t crash into any dwellings. “He could have saved himself but he stuck with the plane and crashed into a field just outside Tenterden. He gave his life to save us all at Leigh Green.”
The last general election before the Second World War was 1935 and although there had been another due in 1940 it had been abandoned because of the war. Even so, Noel would not have been eligible to vote in any 1940 election as suffrage was only given to those over 21. He died doing what he felt was right for his country. No-one forced him and there were no recriminations from his family despite their devastating loss.
Anyone 25 or under in 1939 had never been able to vote in a General Election, had had no say in the democratic policy of their country and were now expected to go and fight to save it. My father was one of those. Similarly my grandfather was disenfranchised at the time of the First World War but he volunteered firstly as a stretcher bearer and then as a RFC pilot. He, too, crashed into a field – but survived. Many hundreds of thousands didn’t and not one of them had ever had the chance of putting an X on a piece of paper to show their approval/disapproval of their political representative.
These days everyone over the age of 18 can vote and the internet has allowed their opinions – as well as those who are not yet of voting age – to be spread far and wide. Facebook and Twitter carry messages fired from the hip with little or no evidence that any function of the sentient brain has been involved. Calls for new referendums are ten a penny, Brexiteers are admonished as thick or bigots, Andrea Leadsom is denounced within a nanosecond of a highly dubious newspaper article being published while the MSM gleefully fall upon the carcass of a third-rate hatchet job in the hope that it will become some kind of Frankenstein’s monster that will run amok and destroy the stupid electorate who dared to vote Leave.
Well, I would like all those in the 18-24 age group who voted in the Referendum to look at that photo of Noel Benson at the top of this piece. He was 19, had never had the opportunity to vote in any election but he still climbed into a Spitfire to attempt to defend this country in its darkest hour. He died on the very first day of his active combat service. Many others lined up to take his place and fortunately for us they defeated the fascist enemy and saved this country for democracy so that we and you could go out and vote for the politicians we choose, not some faceless EU bureaucrat whose only interest is feathering his or her own nest.
And for the 64% of that same age group who couldn’t even be bothered to get out of bed to vote and even now are whining and whingeing about their “futures being lost” I ask you to get a life and stop listening to wankpuffins such as this:
and begin to think a little more about the Noel Bensons of this world and his generation that you would gladly see disenfranchised all over again just because they are “old”.
Roger Ackroyd ©
Sources for information on Noel Benson
RAMSEY, Winston G: (ed)The Battle of Britain, Then and Now. p390 (After the Battle 1980)
BISHOP, Patrick: Fighter Boys. Saving Britain 1940. p301 (Harper Collins 2003)