I am, and have always been, something of a second world war nut. My interest has become even more acute as the years have accumulated, with my attention shifting at any one point between the war’s various stories, battles, campaigns, services and national contributions. However, I can say for certain how it all started, and that was with Matthew Modine.
My late grandfather was a bomber navigator in the war. He spent inordinate hours in the air in one of those glass noses you see on bombers, doing a job in which there was a high probability you wouldn’t return home. He died when I was young, and my mother wanted to make sure I knew a bit more about his service, so she asked if I might watch Memphis Belle with her. This wholesome all-American movie, which stars Modine, scratched an itch I never knew I had: it filled me with wonder and gave me a thirst for knowledge on the subject that has never quite been slaked. I even sing Danny Boy to my children every night (changing the names to my two-syllable sons, Harry and Charlie) — if you know the film, you’ll understand.
Modine says of the making of it: “I loved all the guys on the plane; we are still friends. We were taken to a field in advance of filming with the SAS, who took us through training. We had to work together, solve problems together, and go on a midnight mission in the pitch-black. It was an extraordinary experience.”
Fashion Assistant: Savannah Avant
Grooming: Laila Hayani
Production: Jennifer Rovero
Read the full feature in Issue 82 of The Rake – on newsstands now.
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