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  1. ITV Report

The humble builder's son who became a WW1 pilot hero

He was the humble builder's son from Rugby, but Capt. Harold Satchell became a First World War pilot hero when he brought down a German fighter ace with 30 confirmed aerial victories.

Flying in a FE2D biplane, known by the Germans as "the flying crate," in the June of 1917 Satchell shot down Lt. Karl Schafer, the feared commander of Germany's Jasta 28 squadron.

In doing so, he became a legend of the Royal Flying Corps, which later became the RAF.

Before he died Capt. Harold Satchell described the skills that made him a legend.

"He would dive on you and you would side slip and of course that meant his bullets missed you. We never had parachutes, although the German's all had parachutes, but we wouldn't."

– Capt. Harold Satchell

Far from being a bloodthirsty killer, in an Interview with ITV News, his grandson Dominic Gribbin recalled a modest man who did not like to talk about his wartime experiences.

He said: "My grandfather was actually a modest man. He wasn't some kind of hungry killer. For the rest of his life he was badgered by researchers, people asking questions."

Lt. Karl Schafer, the German flying ace shot down by Capt. Harold Satchell.

He added: "It's quite interesting reading his letters of the time. They start out full of the predictable gung-ho.... But perhaps within in two months he's seeing his colleagues dying in droves around him and the mood changes dramatically."

In one letter Satchell wrote that the average lifespan of a pilot was just 20 hours. He'd already completed more than 10 times that.

Capt. Harold Satchell, pictured during WW1.

Nonetheless, unlike the 9,000 Royal Flying Corps members who died, Satchell survived the war, but like so many of his generation Gribbin said he did not really like to talk about it.

Watch two planes reenact a WW1 dogfight.

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