"Dear Mum" Chapter 19
27th. November 1963 Raf St. Mawgan.
Dear Mum, Well I’m back. Slowly recovering, - the last week in Nassau was really lively, I never got to bed before 4 any night and the last 2 days I never ate in the hotel. Everyone wanted to take us out and we met a lot of people in the 2 months. I really didn’t want to leave and as we did our Flypast over the Island I have never felt so sad since I first left home to join the Air Force.
After the normal post-mortem, on the detachment, life slowly returned to normal on the Squadron. The autumn of 1963 progressed quietly but everything seemed a bit of an anticlimax after Nassau.
I had a medical and the shortsightedness that I had been told about was found to have advanced a bit. Consequently I was told to go to the Military Hospital at Plymouth to have an eye test. I borrowed my mate’s car for this trip. As there was something wrong with my bike at the time. It was a little Triumph Herald, and, after the test, which proved that I did not really need glasses yet, I decided to go to a dance in Plymouth after I had had a meal, prior to coming back to St, Mawgan.
I met a nice West Country girl and after a dance or two we went back to a table and I bought her a drink. She disappeared and returned looking thirsty and so I bought us another drink and we had another few dances. There was something a bit weird about it all as she was kind of remote and strangely thirsty. I got the impression that she was not quite there. I would talk to her about something and then after she had been away and come back she did not seem to remember what it was we had been talking about. It was very noisy and I was getting a bit drunk myself from all the drinks I was consuming, as the rounds seemed to come up very rapidly.
Just before the last dance she disappeared and never came back. I gave up and left myself and as I hung around near the entrance. I saw her, AND her twin sister. There was no doubt about it and it explained a lot. I felt a bit of a fool. They had really taken me for a ride and I had been buying the two of them drinks all evening. It had not been a bad night however and you’ve got to be philosophical about such things. Lubricated by the drink and musing over the events of the evening, I set off back to camp.
It was about 40 miles back to St Mawgan and I was really enjoying the drive back. I was perfecting the 4 wheel drift that is impossible to do on a motorbike. I have found that if you lose adhesion with both wheels on a motorbike, the time between it happening and you coming comprehensively to grief is extremely short. With a car however it is very much a different kettle of fish, controlling a 4 wheel drift is quite possible and unless it gets out of control and you hit something, then it is a very satisfying experience.
Hitting something is not half so satisfying. This is what I did about 5 miles from camp. When I went back later to survey the scene of the crime, I found out that there was a kerbstone that had been run over by a lorry or tractor and which stuck out into the road. This is what I had hit to begin with. As both the near side tyres then deflated quite rapidly, I subsequently hit a telegraph pole. This was a terminal problem and the car came to a very abrupt halt. Unsecured by any encumbrance like a seat belt, I continued in a forward direction, being arrested in turn by the driving mirror and the windscreen.
The sudden silence was deafening. I sat there for a few moments and my reverie was interrupted by a pattering sound. This was blood and it was mine. This was not the romantic trickle that had marked my valiant struggle with insurmountable odds in the defence of my damsel in distress. This stuff was running out in great globbs and I had a white Mac on. And a new pair of pigskin gloves. I took these off very quickly and got out of the car, which was making soft ticking noises. There was a bit of moonlight and I could see that I was leaking quite profusely. I could remember passing some lights a bit earlier and so I took off back along the road.
I climbed over a 5 barred gate and knocked at the door of a small house, set back from the road. Someone came to the door, but when I tried to explain that I had had an accident they would not open the door, but told me to go back further down the road to a farmhouse where they had a phone. I climbed over their gate again bleeding all over it in the process, (so they could see that I was not joking, in the morning.)
There was a light on outside the front door and as I could see someone coming as a response to my knocking I warned them that I was not a pretty sight. The lady who opened the door took one look and said something like “Oh My God.” My reversible Macintosh, which was previously white on the outside and black on the inside, was red all down the front. They were very kind and sat me down with a towel wrapped round the leaks and called an ambulance.
The ambulance came all the way from Truro and by the time it got there and took me back the shock and alcohol were both wearing off. It was a very unpleasant experience to have the 45 stitches that were needed in my face, inserted. The doctor tried to give me a shot of anaesthetic before the stitches, but the shots were hurting more than the stitches. In the end he gave up on the anaesthetic and just stitched me up, as best as he could.
They took me back to St Mawgan and I was given a bed in the empty ward. It was about 4.00. am. by then. I went to the loo and for the first time saw what damaged had been inflicted on my pretty baby face. I could see that it would never be the same and that I would carry the scars to the grave. There were stitches sticking out and clotted blood everywhere. One eye was swollen closed. It was a mess. I had really done it this time.
Later that morning I had a series of visitors. Word quickly got round and one of the first was the owner of the Triumph Herald. He took it very well and could see that I had been punished for my recklessness. I promised him that he would not be out of pocket because of it and told him to arrange the repairs that would be necessary. I had a visit from a local policeman, who I am sure had no doubt at all that I had been plastered. I told him that something had jumped out in the road in front of me. Maybe a rabbit and I had swerved. It may well have done, but if it had, I wouldn’t have seen it. I could see from his face that he did not believe a word of it, but he could see from mine that I had not exactly escaped unscathed. I had to pay for repairs to the telegraph pole. I thought that this was adding insult to injury.
Various sight-seers from the Squadron came in to look at the damage and when the visitors had all gone, I was left with the little Welsh nurse. She was on duty and had no other patients, so was able to concentrate on rebuilding my ego after it had been so drastically deflated.