As far as I am concerned, my uncle Arthur Slater, is one of the biggest hero's that ever lived. I never knew him and he died during the 2nd world war under impossible circumstances.
On September 28th 1952, the Sunday Express newspaper wrote.......A lonely spot in the desert. A kittyhawk fighter plane with faded red, white and blue roundels of the R.A.F. stands solitary in the Libyan desert. It has stood there eight years. Now it has been decided it will remain there, often half covered by the hot, drifting sand, as a monument to a young Englishman. It was in July, 1944, that 21 year old Flight Sergeant J.A. Slater, of Shrewsbury, was flying the Kittyhawk on a lone patrol over Egypt. Through bad visibility he failed to pick up a landmark. With petrol exhausted, he landed in a spot so desolate that it is shunned even by the wandering Bedouins. They call it Quaret el Gehannem [Qaret el Ghannam ?]- Wilderness of hell - Slater had little food and water. He decided in the burning heat to strike east on foot in the direction of the Nile. He was 90 miles south-east of Cairo. Arrows in the sand. The sand he trod was brown, but just below the surface almost white. So as he walked he traced big white arrows in the sand, marking them with stones to guide aircraft which might search for him. He walked for two days, covering only ten miles. Then with his strength giving out, he carved a giant SOS in a sandy hillside with an arrow pointing to a boulder. There, in the scant shade, he lay down and awaited death. He died from thirst three days later, only 20 miles from an oasis. In September, 1948, a Shell Oil geological party found the plane. It was unharmed and could take off once its petrol tank was filled. The party followed the arrow stones and found young Slater. No one had been near the spot since he had died. Diary found. They found a diary, which they sent to his father, with a cigarette lighter. In the diary Slater told of his thoughts during the last days of his life. He wrote that his father and mother were always in his mind. He told how he prayed and found new strength to go on. There was no word of grumbling. Later, Major Clive Cameron , a New Zealand representative of the Imperial War Graves Commission, was guided to the spot. The trip took two days through soft sand. Today, Flight Sgt Slater lies in the British war cemetery near Cairo.