"Boldness Be My friend" by Richard Pape - a pack of lies?

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Profile picture for user Dave Homewood

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When I was about 13 years old, the first book about the air force I ever recall reading was 'Boldness Be My Friend' by Richard Pape, who was an aircrew member who was shot down over occupied territory and imprisoned. His book is about the various prisons he was in and the escape attempts he made, till he finally escaped back to Britain through an ingenious idea of faking a medical problem and being repatriated by the Red Cross during a disabled prisoner exchange.

I loved the book - it truly ignited my interest and whetted my appetite for more RAF WWII reading, which then lead onto my interest also in RNZAF history.

However, right now I am reading the book 'GeTaWay' by Gordon Woodroofe, an RNZAF pilot who crashed in the North Sea and spent three years as a POW before escaping and getting back to Britain.

At Stalag VIIIB near Lamsdorf, and known as Lamsdorf Prison, Woodroofe got to know Pape well as he lived in the next bunk. He describes Pape as;

"a red-haired Yorkshireman who had worked for the Yorkshire Post Newspaper before enlisting as an Observer in the RAF. Richard, or "Ginger" as he was known to us, was an inveterate raconteur of great invention who could entertain listeners by the hour."

He goes on to describe Pape physically and then mentions his eventual plan to, along with a Pole, swap identities with two Kiwi soldiers in the camp nextdoor so they could get onto a work party and attemtp escape.

Later in the book Woodroofe details how a disabled prisoner exchange was coming up and how their commander ordered all the prisoners not to fake an illness as they'd be Court Martialled if they got back to England for taking the place of a genuine sick or disabled airman. This would have been some time before Pape alledgedly made his escape that very way.

Woodroofe bemoans that they all agreed with the order as it made sense not to greedily take the rightful place of an injured or gravely ill man, but that later in the war several prisoners did use the idea and instead of Court Martial they received congratulations from the RAF.

This is where it gets interesting. He states:

"One of our members even gained a Military Medal for the excellence of his story in achieving this, so you can read all about it in Richard Pape's "Boldness Be My Friend" which is supposedly about his own escapades and final "escape". Richard was good at transposing himself into the hero's role of someone else's experience and telling an exciting tale by doing so. The fact that Pape's name is not listed by those who wrote the official history of RAF prisoners of war and is not included with the thirty escapers who got away from "set German prison camps between 1939 and 1945" means that the historians differed in opinion from those who recommended a gong for our friend."

So, was Pape's story his own? Or a compilation of other airmen's stories perhaps? Has this fairly famous book ever had doubt cast before upon it?

Did this professional journalist let a good story get in the way of the truth?

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More on Richard Pape.

We shall probably never be able to determine the truth regarding Pape's escape stories. However, there are some areas which are objective that we can assess. Regarding the Short Stirling: Pape's knowledge of this a/c is a bit dodgy. He describes the crew as 'eight' - it was actually seven. He tells us that the horsepower of each of the engines was '1800', it was much closer to 14-1500. He over-estimates the bomb-load wildly, on a trip to Berlin the Stirling could carry about 3500 pounds. According to sources I have read, Stirlings went to Berlin only twice; April 17-18, 1941 and 22-23 November www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_short_stirling_bomber.html Neither of these corresponds to his cited trip of September 6/7. 1941! Further to trips to Berlin, the Butt Report had just been released in August, 1941. Most of you will know that this report revealed that most bomber crews could not even find Berlin at this stage of the war, let alone bomb a small wood north of the city which was their 'secret target'. I presume that Pape was referring to Goering's 'Karinhalle' which was north of the city, but definitely not an air-defense point.

I have recently been doing some research on Mona Parsons and Willem Lionhardt and their house ('Ingleside') in Laren, Holland for Google Earth. Here it appears that Pape got the details correct. The Parsons escape line was compromised when Pape was in the route. So Pape was, indeed, shot down over Holland and captured by the Gestapo. The rest of his tale is very hard to believe and unverifiable. Pape employs purple prose to describe a world of monocle -wearing, cigar-smoking, hysterically screaming German officers!
One final note - my favourite passage from 'Boldness be my Friend'. Pape is describing the fraught scene aboard his stricken aircraft when the wireless operator '...spewed full into my face. His damp vomit was cool and refreshing'. They don't write them like that anymore!

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Pape's knowledge of this a/c is a bit dodgy. He describes the crew as 'eight' - it was actually seven.

I agree the crew of the Stirling was usually seven but, like the Lancaster or Halifax, it could have been eight.

I haven’t read ‘Boldness Be My Friend’ but it certainly isn’t the first time I’ve read accusations that it deviated significantly from reality.

(Some ‘zombie’ thread.....six years! A new record?)

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Stirlings to Berlin

According to sources I have read, Stirlings went to Berlin only twice; April 17-18, 1941 and 22-23 November www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_short_stirling_bomber.html Neither of these corresponds to his cited trip of September 6/7. 1941!

Ah no ... Stirlings flew as part of the Bomber Force right into the Battle of Berlin in late 1943 ... in fact it was that Battle that was their swansong o/a loss rates and sufficient numbers of Lancasters (primarily) and Halifaxes being available to replace them. Refer for example to "Forever Strong" (the Story of 75 Sqdn) by Norman Franks and also the Bomber Command War Diaries by Middlebrook & Everitt.

That said, the night of 6/7 Sept 1941 saw a raid on the Hulls/Huels synthetic oil plant ... I don't know where that was.

Interesting thread.

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Spieler

Did this professional journalist let a good story get in the way of the truth?[/QUOTE]

Pape seems to me to be one of those ultimately exhausting characters. Great for a night at the bar, will even turn up next morning to do the wood chopping, but will slink away by day 6 of 14 of the woodchopping task. To give him credit his spieling was published at a time when his contemporaries could have easily exposed him as a fraud, which they didn't. I reckon he went through a terrible experience and found a way to profit from it, which in philosophical terms is a great outcome. Apparently he was a 'best selling author' personality in the 1960's. Good on him if he got a root for it. Boldness Be My Friend was good enough to make me wind my way to his next book, about driving a car from the Arctic Circle to South Africa. Again, a great story, safe to read from a distance. The books that will really last, that were too close and painful for contempraries to read and popularize in the 1960's, will start to shine now. Pape was great to get you in as a teenager, but some of these will resonate for a more adult understanding of the human condition in war :

As a Kiwi you will forgive the antipodean theme :

'The Ridge and the River' by TAG Hungerford - just gold. 1952 Australian jungle warfare
'The Twenty Thousand Thieves' by Eric Lambert - 1951 Australian desert warfare

For aviation :
'War without Glory'
'Recollections of an Airman' - 1933 WW1, pg 112, platinum, iridium stuff !

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Dave, I have 2 copies of this book,one printed as a first edition and one printed much later. They differ in his reasons to return to "Blighty" in that in one it was to return to the war and in the other to return to his girlfriend who had unknown to him had been killed.

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... his cited trip of September 6/7. 1941 ...

Further to this, although that night saw an operation to Huls, the very next night 7/8 Sep '41 saw an operation to Berlin on which 10 Stirlings (plus other aircraft) operated (that's possibly a single squadron) and two were lost. This from Middlebrook/Everitt's BCWD mentioned in my post above. Someone with access to Chorley will be able to confirm to you if Pape was one of those shot down that night.

7/8 September.

15 Squadron.

Stirling N6045 LS-U Ops to Berlin.

Sgt R B Pape

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7/8 September. 15 Squadron. Stirling N6045 LS-U Ops to Berlin. Sgt R B Pape

And eight crew listed (all of which became POW).
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Spieler 2

Did this professional journalist let a good story get in the way of the truth?[/QUOTE]

A further 24 hours and my sub conscious has been kinder to Pape than my conscious. I guess WW2 intruded into a generation of that believed in 'never explain, never complain'. Consequently men ( really twenty year olds ) returned to homes after the war and got drunk, cried out in terror in the night and filled living rooms with a terrible silence. Pape was a gabby self promoter who actually offered a glimpse into the experiences that damaged the psyches of a generation of men who were constitutionally incapable of communicating the perplexing mix of fear, horror and elation in combat. For the folk that weren't 'there' and were trying to understand their loved ones, he opened a pretty readable doorway. I sense the war generation needed him and resented him at the same time for his gabbiness. Thousands bought his books, so he must of filled a pretty powerful need at the time. He is also readable. A bloke's Mills & Boon. Thanks Pape, you mouth, have a beer.

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powerandpassion, Hi,
Like that post! Better than a lot!
I, too, at an early age read that book, but it was not until I'd been through Nat Svc, and seen people I knew killed in air accidents, that I was able to place the book in its context. Pape (if he did) was not the only one who feigned mental illness to get a PoW early/exchange repat. There are others recorded.
How many of us would have acted as true and honourable gentlemen in "The Cage" if there had been a way out (other than by tunnelling) even if the SBO threatened a Court Martial after the war?
HTH
Resmoroh

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Pape was a pre-war auxiliary (with 609 Squadron as groundcrew) and I recall comments along the line of him being somewhat of an exaggerator by a contemporary but I don't know the history of their relationship so won't agree or disagree with it. Anyway, he was somewhat colourful even with 609. Postwar he had a few more adventures, wrote a sequel when he could do so to correct some aspects of Boldness that couldn't be done at the time for reasons of people still being at risk and finally gave away his fortune and went to work for Leonard Cheshire (I think he gave him his money). Makes him an honourable man to me.

I have the following, some short details and a letter, postwar, amongst my archive:

Richard B ‘Ginger’ Pape MM, Polish Air Force Eagle, Dutch Order of Merit, USA Antarctic Service Medal.

Joined B Flight in 1936. Joined as untrained Photographer. Worked for Yorkshire Post. Took private pilots licence at Yorkshire Aero Club. Volunteered for aircrew, training as a navigator in the RAFVR. Posted to 15 Squadron at Wyton. Shot down on his 9th operational sortie in Short Stirlings over Holland while returning from an air raid on Berlin on 7th September 1941. 197 aircraft took part, with 15 being lost. The aircraft crashed near the Dutch border and with the help of the Dutch resistance he initially evaded capture, though he was eventually captured by the Germans and incarcerated in Stalag VIIIB. He escaped twice but was caught on both occasions. He was tortured by the Gestapo on the second. Repatriated to England in 1944 for health reasons. After the war Pape wrote several books best-seller Boldness by my Friend . In 1965 Pape returned his military medals to the Queen in protest against the award of the MBE to the Beatles

Richard Pape
‘Berkeley’

6, Hyde Place.

Hughes,

Canberra,

AST 2605

Australia

Date:

5 April 1978

Mr. Charles McConnell,

Secretary,

609 Squadron Association,

6, Dorset Crescent,

HARROGATE,

Yorkshire,

Great Britain.

Dear Charles (Mac),

What a grand surprise to receive the book, “The Story of 609 Squadron – Under The White Rose’, together with your kind and interesting letter. The airmail package arrived yesterday – the delay due to a damned postal strike, which ended a few days ago. It lasted a month. Australia is perhaps worse than U.K. for strikes, militant Trade Unionists, Agitators, Communists and the rest.

Am a bit weary – eyed this morning having read Frank Ziegler’s splendid record of 609 …… (all through the night). Frank Zeigler is to be congratulated for a most worthy compilation which is so excellently written. A book all Yorkshire folk can be proud to have on their bookshelf, and their children’s children and so on.

Good old Darkie Hanson, my truest wishes to him. Sorry to learn about my old colleague of ‘Yorkshire Post’ days, Frank Appleby. He was a good chap and many an evening after a day’s work

At the newspaper we would cycle off to the river Wharfe near Collingham for a swim on summer nights. Fitzgerald (Bill) died in 1976. It was his daughter ‘Anne James’ who put me on to you, in fact. He was also employed by ‘The Yorkshire Post’.

Most interested to learn all about Sir Harald Peake, and Lord Lincoln (His Grace the Duke of Newcastle)…

Guess he’ll remember Richard Pape of yore. As a matter of fact I have often related to my Australian wife, Helen, a lawyer at the Attorney – General’s office here in Canberra about her husbands wicked action in striking a fellow airman over the head with a heavy plate containing N.A.A.F.I. bacon and eggs. It was just before I left the Squadron after getting my ‘A’ licence from Captain Worrall, at the Yeadon Aero Club. I don’t think she really believed me when I told her that I had been brought before Lord Lincoln and had told him: ‘Yessir, I did crown the ******* on the cranium with a platter’ … (referring to the fellow airman whom I had assaulted). Well, I jumped out of bed last night and awakened her after reading page 47 ….. “Now read this” … I chortled …. “Read this about crowning that bloke on the cranium with a platter of bacon and eggs)

I propose using the Duke’s own written words: ‘Such was the background and basis on which our astonishing Auxiliary Air Force was built – a basis of mutual respect and understanding and devotion to the cause, reflecting the mysterious power of the mad Englishman to produce a military force based on an entirely volunteer concept ….” Zeigler wrote: “How, for instance, was he, or for that matter the Auxiliary Adjutant, to impose discipline in an actual case where one Auxiliary airman who (not without some provocation) assaulted another by hitting him over the head with a plate, etc. etc. …”

The next time I hit a chap over the head with a plate of food, it happened to be a dirty big square – headed German Guard in a Polish Political Prison (Krakau) after I had been arrested after my escape from the Polish coalmine in Beuten. I refused to give details of my Polish underground helpers so the Gestapo tried to tempt me to squeal by sending in a guard (into my cell) with a thick German Army plate ladened with steaming sausages and potatoes. ‘All this nice German food fer der Englander”, he whined “Iff der Englander tells der auforities der people dat helped ‘im …”

I must have had a brainstorm reaction from 609 Squadron when I crowned my fellow airman over the cranium back in 1938. I took the plate of sausage and mash and crowned that big ugly Hun ******* bang on the head …. I did get my ribs stoved in and my kidneys bruised for that assault … but it was worth it. (Bet old Lord Lincoln chuckles when you relate the above)

And Ziegler sums up John Dundas pretty truthfully. A great fellow but an untidy *******. Often at the ‘Yorkshire Post’ I would say to him, ‘For Gawd’s sake, John, get a new pair of trousers or cut the cuffs of the pair you are wearing…” His trouser bottoms were always frayed. Again, I often had a drink with him at an old pub off Briggate in Leeds (A Youngers Ale House). Dundas would spill beer down his front and his fingers were always mucky and terribly ink – stained ….. “Wash your bloody hands sometime” – I would rebuke him. “What’s the point”, he would reply in his distant, abstract way, “I’ll only have to wash ‘em again” …. And Dundas still owes me thirty – bob, if I remember correctly. I’ll chase him around up top when we eventually meet again for my money ….. Eh? He always seemed to be hard – up as a young up and coming journalist … But oh boy did the lasses on the staff fall for his off – handed manner …. Whow!

By the way, I was buying some tobacco last year at a little Greek Grocer’s shop here at Hughes, when a pretty young woman came up to me and said …. ‘You are Richard Pape’ ….. It was aircraftman Hunter’s daughter. He was in the Hawker Hind as ballast when Dundas crashed into a house at Yeadon. In 1963 I was walking along George Street in Sydney, when Hunter walked into me face on. He had migrated and was working in a Public Service job. We got blotto in a local pub and he took me home to a suburb called Liverpool. I met his family and the girl who recognised me in question. The daughter told me that her father had died the year before with a growth – cancer I believe. Hunter was very helpful to me when I left the Squadron and was flying privately in a Tiger Moth. He knew his mechanics. When I got my Air Guard wings he and I got tanked somewhat at that pub at Yeadon not far away on the main road.

Yes, you’ll certainly have half a dozen books when the autobiography is finally finished and published. Next year I trust. In the meantime I am sending along a copy of ‘Boldness Be My Friend’ (signed) to your address, and I’ll get the publisher to send one to Darkie Hanson (Direct from London). I only have one copy with me here in Canberra. When you receive the book from London would you kindly hand it to Darkie. It will come to your address.

Now about myself. Age 62, still have some of my beautiful red – hair left, but not much. I inform my wife that when it finally loses its ginger colour and turns grey, then and only then can it be said that Richard Pape has lost his temper and is pacified and peaceful. Blimme, Charles!

Suffer from nine pensionable war disabilities, full of arthritis, eyesight getting worse, but hope that I’ll have finished the autobiography before the surgeon removes the cataracts. One has to be just about blind before they’ll skin one’s eyeballs. Otherwise keep plodding away at home. Now retired so to speak, not able to work at a job. Quit working for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs 18 months ago. They asked me to write a book on the Australian Aboriginals when I came to live in Canberra after 91/2 years in that hot and primitive land …. Papua New Guinea.

I guess you’ll know all about my wartime career in the R.A.F. Being shot down after bombing Berlin (night of Sept 7, 1941) crashing in the Stirling bomber, escaping, escaping, and escaping. I finally got clear of Hitler’s bloody Europe in 1944, and was back in U.K. a year before the war ended. Crashed again and had my beauty spoiled somewhat. Should never have flown again after getting home in one piece. But as Lord Lincoln wrote : ‘Mad Englishmen (Yorkshiremen).’ Spent the best part of two years in East Grinstead R.A.F. plastic surgery hospital – Sir Archibald McIndoe, famous R.A.F. plastic surgeon did a pretty good repair job on my face. That was the end of my flying career.

Went to South Africa in 1946 and returned to Britain 1953 for the publication of ‘Boldness Be My Friend’ …. Couldn’t settle down so took up test – endurance driving for Austin Motors (B.M.C.) A book followed, ‘Cape Cold to Cape Hot’ ….. From Arctic North Cape to African South Cape. Nearly bought it in the stinking Sahara. Returned to U.K. Tried to settle down. Impossible. Fell in love with a ballerina and fell out of love quickly when she wanted her mother to live with us upon marriage. Joined Rootes motors and did test driving for them in America, Canada, Yukon, etc. Nearly bought it again in Alaska at 90 M.P.H. Decided I’d had enough of car racing and all that. Fell in love with a female co – driver, got married. Settled in New Zealand (She may have been a wonderful co – driver around the 48 states of the U.S.A. but she drove me up the ruddy wall otherwise) Four months after marriage decided to join the U.S.A. ‘Deep Freeze’ Operation (after Geophysical International Year) 1956 / 7. The elapsed, elongated honeymoon was causing me to have moods and itchy - feet. Left the bride for the penguins and roamed around the Great White Continent. Fell in the sea at McMurdo Sound and nearly froze to death. Returned to the neglected bride but she found me permanently cold. She nicknamed me ‘Sealskin Pape’ …. That was that, divorced her, or maybe she really wanted her freedom. Back to dear old U.K. and I visited Yorkshire, Yeadon, etc. and the ‘Yorkshire Post’ wanted me to return if I felt inclined. Didn’t …!!!.

Started drinking too much as a resident of the ‘Pathfinder Club’ in Berkeley Square, London and met Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C. He asked me to do something useful with my life instead of trying to kill myself by taking risk after risk. I joined Cheshire V.C. and left London for Australia en route to Papua New Guinea to start up a home for mentally handicapped native children. That was in 1964. I remained in that savage land for 91/2 years rather than the intended two years. But it was for the best. On the plane to New Guinea, an old DC.3. I sat next to Helen, my future wife. She was a Lawyer and visiting New Guinea for a stint on legal work for the Australian Government. After a few weeks in that ‘Hot Land’ I was put in jail for dangerous, or squiffy driving. I remembered the lovely female lawyer and got her to get someone to bail me out. So started a romance and we married in 1966. Helen is a grand person, 8 years my junior and we are very happy. No children, of course, but we have a glorious ‘Golden Retriever called ‘Pumpkin’ ….

When we left Papua New Guinea the Leonard Cheshire Home was an established reality, financial and caring for a dozen mentally defective and spastic native children. So at least I did something useful and worthwhile in the long run. Cheshire came to see us twice and is a grand, reliable fellow. We are very good friends.

Douglas Bader is visiting Darwin in the Northern Territory in May, and I may see him. We were in the same prison camp together (Dulag Luft, nr Frankfurt) Luftwaffe Interrogation Centre. We had a tunnel going there and I was told I had to carry Douglas Bader up the mountain – side when we broke free outside the wire. I always had a good strong, Yorkshire rugger back. It didn’t come about, however, for a big German decided to stamp just above the tunnel to warm his feet (it was Winter) and big ******* came straight through the topsoil and into the tunnel. Fortunately he broke a leg. That was that! Bader was despatched to the Baltic and I was taken to the Polish border, Stalag V111B, and one hell of a place. I met up with Bader again in Breslau two years later, after I had changed my identity. He was a bit of a nuisance to the Germans, to say the least, and was sent to finish his term in Colditz. I was sent to one hell of a place on the Lithuanian border. The Russians pounded the place when they advanced in 1944 from Witebsk. Actually heard the big guns booming. It was from Luft V1 that I found my freedom. But the happiest part of the final chapter was seeing Berlin three years after I had bombed the place. I was on my way from Lithuania via Berlin to Leipzig and had to spend a night in a Berlin railway siding. Damnation, the Mosquitoes came over and dropped 4,000 pounder cookies. ‘Cripes’, I muttered as everything shook, “Hope those Mossy boys don’t come any closer ….” Berlin was a glorious site … Flattened, a massive landscape of rubble. It was good to see the Germans running, shrieking and moaning. And once clear of Berlin and on my way to Leipzig I silently thanked the R.A.F. for wreaking vengeance on my behalf and all other R.A.F. aircrew P.O.W. I got away from Lithuania just in time, but unfortunately some 30 R.A.F. aircrew were shot down by machine – gun fire from attacking planes.

And the first thing I did when I finally got back to Leeds was to get drunk on Tetleys Special …. A glorious pub – crawl including Yeadon haunts (but the barmaids had changed, and one lovely little Yorkshire lass I used to wink at and take out from that top Yeadon pub had gone and married a bloody G.I.)

Helen and I were in Britain four years ago and I took my wife all over the Yorkshire Dales, and proudly showed the County that bred the best males in the Sacred Isles. This brings me to a point my wife raised this morning re the name of HANSON. She had read your letter and your mention of Darkie Hanson brought to her mind her mother’s father, or i.e. my wife’s maternal grandfather. Helen’s mother’s father was Dr. Hargreaves Hallys Halls Hanson, born about 1849 and died 1916. Yorkshire folk to be sure but she is not certain of the exact town or locale where the Dr. came from. Would be rather something of a coincidence if my wife’s mother’s clan happened to be linked to Darkie Hanson’s lineage. Anyway, I chose a wife with a definite and distant Yorkshire background, even if she was born in Australia.

Hadn’t realised the time, so anxious to get a reply off to you. Just pounded the typewriter and realised you have four pages of typescript to read. The book will be posted airmail in a couple of days hence, and the one from the publisher in London should be in your hands for ‘Darkie’ – say about two or three weeks.

I trust all goes well for you and yours, and Helen and I may perhaps have the pleasure of meeting you in person in Harrogate should we visit my sister in Hampshire late this year, or early next.

Regards to any members of the old 609 Squadron, and again I say that the story of 609 Squadron under the White Rose – is indeed a inspiration to anyone anywhere in the old country, and to Yorkshiremen, born and bred ….. Well, it just engenders a terrific glow of pride, which I find difficult to put into words.

I’ll certainly keep in touch. So all for now.

Every good wish,

Sincerely,

Richard B. Pape.

P.S. Just re–read your letter. I assumed when you said poor old Frank was about to die you meant Frank Appleby, Deepest sympathy to Frank Ziegler’s family

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Thank you !

Every good wish,Sincerely,Richard B. Pape.[/QUOTE]

What a great, great read, thank you !
Australian telephone directory shows a number of Papes in Canberra
If he his underground I will leave a Tetleys on top. If he is above ground I will organise a Tetley's tanker.

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Interesting thread.

Very ...

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Long underground.

Great read, Snapper!

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Excellent read ! What a bloke.

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True or not a great read Thanks :)

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Well it has taken over six years for a reply to me initial post but boy has it been worth the wait. Thanks to all who have replied, especially to Snapper for that very fascinating letter.

I am pleased that this thread has helped me to understand the man, and no matter whether or not he may have embellished a little or twisted a fact or two, his book "Boldness Be My Friend" inspired me as a kid and helped to set me on a path that has now led me to have such a greater understanding and knowledge and personal connection with WWII and our veterans; and I thank Richard Pape for that.

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Great thread the incident mentioned with Aircraftsman Hunter was the P/O John C Dundas and LAC Hunter Hind crash incident when after engine cut on take off it crashed into house in Victoria Avenue Yeadon was Hawker Hind K6848 on 18th June 1939. Both crew and a woman in house were ok

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Tich Cloves Diary:

It was left to Plt Off Dundas to provide us with a real pile up.

The occasion was the first squadron formation take – off. The aircraft concerned, Hind 6848, happened to be the CO’s aircraft, but that was no deterrent. Human ballast was LAC Hunter. The taking up of position of the twelve aircraft took some considerable time and the old Kestrel Vs were ticking over and wondering if they would be required. The word ‘Go’ came, and bang went the throttles, and the squadron became almost airborne, but the engine in K6848 decided to cut at the crucial moment. P/O Dundas throttled back to nurse the engine, but decided he couldn’t clear the houses in Victoria Avenue so put the aircraft earthwards. It touched down, but was still doing some considerable speed; he applied brakes but owing to the dampness of the aerodrome surface, the wheels skidded and the aircraft carried on unperturbed. It burst through the aerodrome fence, chopped down a windsock, which fell on a boy on a pushbike, and conveniently turned on its nose in the back garden of one of the houses. The aircraft leaned nicely on a well-placed tree and gently rested its rudder on the house roof. A lady occupant of the house had hysterics; she was restored with the aid of brandy. The brandy was passed on to the pilot and passenger who didn’t really require it. It was then handed to some unidentified airman to look after; he did, by drinking the lot. He calmly handed over the empty bottle when the aforementioned lady had further hysterics and quietly vanished. Aircraft complete write – off. Very good photos in the local newspapers. Plt Off Dundas had a short flip at dual in the Hind trainer, then was sent off solo. He cleared the houses this time with plenty to spare.

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c24/609photos/YN008.jpg