The Argentine Spitfire Pilot who fought in World War II
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His name is Ronnie Scott, who played rugby at Belgrano Athletic Club enlisting at age 24. At 103, he says it was because he felt at the time “Hitler had to be stopped.”
Ronald David Scott now lives in San Isidro, Buenos Aires and is known by all as Ronnie. He is 103 years old, rides a bicycle and flew fighter planes in World War II. Ronnie was one of the 5,000 Argentine’s who volunteered to fight alongside the allies.
Ronnie was born in Villa Devoto. His father was Scottish and had fought in the Boers War in South Africa for the English Empire. His mother was also English and a nurse by profession. One day in March 1931, when he was 14 years old, he went to the Hurlingham club to watch a polo game in which the Prince of Wales and future King of England, Edward VIII, played.
It was very hot. “At that game Prince Edward came across to the fence and asked me for a tonic water. I went to look for it and added so lemon. When I gave it to him he liked it. The next day, the British Embassy invited me to see the aircraft carrier Eagle which was the first ship of its type to come to Buenos Aires and that stayed engraved in my mind, “says Scott.
In May 1942, Ronnie remembered that day and hour when he went to the embassy to volunteer to fight for the British in the Second World War war. He asked to enlist as a naval pilot. He was sent for physical exams, which happened without problems. He was a strong man who, at that time, played rugby for Belgrano Athletic.
Why would a young Argentine want to go to fight a war in Europe?
“Some people told me ‘don’t go because it’s a bullshit war’, but I had gone to school at Belgrano Day School and felt that something had to be done to stop Hitler and his allies” says Ronnie.
And with respect to this, it is absolutely emphatic: “I believe that everyone should have gone to Hitler,” he underlines, “Hitler was a bastard, a horror. He has been responsible for almost 100 million deaths including a lot of Germans. It has killed people in bulk. ”
That was how, in 1943, he ended up sailing to England. “We went on a ship that left Buenos Aires with 400 volunteers, 300 and some were Argentine and the rest were between Uruguayans, Chileans and Brazilians,” he recalls. “When we arrived, they wanted to get me into the English army, but I wanted to be a naval pilot. Then I did my naval exams and they sent me to Canada, where I became a pilot aviation lieutenant. “
In Canada he received instruction as a pilot and in June 1944 he was ready to fly in anger. Back in England, he joined Squad 794 and participated in reconnaissance missions, training and shooting practices. He flew everything from Tiger Moths, Blackburn Sea Skuas, Miles Masters and Supermarine Spitfire aircraft during this time.
From those times he remembers when he saw Prime Minister Winston Churchill give a speech in the House of Commons and the impact he felt when he heard him say: “We will fight anywhere, in the paddocks, in the ditch, in the street, wherever and we will never give up.”
Between 13 June and the end of August 1944, the Luftwaffe dropped nearly 9,000 V1 flying bombs on England and France. Only 2,419 hit their target, because the others were diverted by British aircraft or did not detonate.
During those months, Londoners became accustomed to the sirens that heralded the airstrikes.
“I was in charge of stopping the V1s that were going to fall on London,” Ronnie says. I had to keep an eye on the southern part of the River Thames in case the V1 came our way.
After reprimanding with some passion a British superior officer who cruelly mistreated a fellow Navy pilot, Ronnie was transferred to an instructional airfield.
Towards the end of the war, during a flight as an instructor, he suffered a most difficult moment: the engines failed and he had to land in the sea on the southwestern coast of England. Luckily all went well.
On May 8, 1945, Germany capitulated and the war ended. Three years later, Ronnie returned to Argentina, where he became a commercial pilot for Aeroposta Argentina, the predecessor of Aerolineas Argentinos. He flew for them until 1978.
Ronnie now lives in close to the Club Atlético San Isidro (CASI), of which he has been a member for 80 years. Although he still has his driver’s license, but he only takes out the car when he goes to eat with friends at the San Salvador Anglican Church in Belgrano in the city.
Scott is one of the few who knows the existence of the Memorial Hall of the Belgrano Athletic rugby club, which is located in Viceroy of The Pino 3456.
It was inaugurated in 1918, after World War I, to honor the partners who went to fight for the British Empire and never came back.
The original Memorial Hall was on the ground floor, but later moved it to the first floor of the club. They rebuilt it as it was before, with its oak walls and a carpet covering the entire surface; brown, yellow and green armchairs; two billiard tables and three windows facing the club park, one of them towards the rugby field.
In the Memorial Hall there is a plaque of thanks to Belgrano Athletic Club for “the cooperation provided on countless occasions, in which the sum of almost one million national pesos was raised for the cause of the United Nations ” between 1939 and 1945.
There is also a display case with photos of the people who volunteered for the Second World War, some of whom did not return. Ronnie Scott however was one of them who did come back.
At the yearly ANZAC service held at the Australian embassy you can find him.
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Post available in: English