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Old 24th Jan 2013, 17:58
  #3458 (permalink)  
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Danny has a narrow escape and some Hot Buttered Toast.

But Courts Martial may be daft, but they're not stupid. They tend to apply the commonsense test, that of the "Man on the Clapham Omnibus". And the M.O.T.C.O. would convict out of hand, of that I was sure. Of my man's guilt, I was absolutely certain. Yet my duty in MAFL was clear. Whatever my own opinion might be, I must put forward the accused's case to the Court to the best of my ability, but MAFL grimly warns that: "he (the Defending Officer) is not to concoct a defence ." Any half way effective defence I could think of would have to be concocted. It would likely to be worse for him in the end. Courts do not like being messed-about and having their time wasted with cock-and-bull stories - and this may be remembered in sentence !

Whereas, if he'd take my advice, plead "Guilty", and throw himself on the mercy of the Court, I could put in quite an impressive Plea in Mitigation of Sentence. It was a first offence. He had honestly thought that the old Ops Block had been abandoned (like so many other wartime structures). I could cite all his excellent charitable works (even if they had merely served as cover for his nefarious operations). He had been dropped on the head as a baby. He was depressed because the family budgie had died (you know the sort of thing).

Yet he remained adamant in his intention to plead "Not Guilty". His reasoning was: If I plead "Guilty", I may well go down for a few months (the estimate for repairs to the Ops Block was at least 5,000), whereas there's a slim chance I may get off with a plea of "Not Guilty" (I thought not ). The Summary of Evidence was taken; this only confirmed my expectation of the final outcome.

And then, almost "on the steps of the Court", the Prosecution abandoned the case.and withdrew the charge. Why ? No reason was given then, and to this day I have never been able to get an answer. A very relieved young man was demobbed with an "Excellent" service conduct sheet, and his Defending Officer was happy to have been spared his day in Court (the Ops block was never used again anyway and was demolished a few years later). The chap's name ? (Never mind !)

In the May of 1950 my Bond "Minicar" was ready for collection, and I went to Preston to pick it up. I was on wheels again. Coincidentally, petrol rationing ended on the 26th of that month (Google). I could write reams about the "Bond", but that would be right off Thread. Suffice to say that it was a perfectly functional vehicle for the conditions of the time (quite unlike that ridiculous Sinclair C-5 which appeared a few years ago). I ran it for 30,000 miles over four years and I was never actually stranded with it, although bits broke and fell off from time to time (but that was no surprise to any owner of any British car of that era). Wiki gives a very fair account of the Bonds; I saw them running around till the mid-'70s.

As with my dive-bombing experience, I shall give one detailed account of our Y6 "job" which will stand for all the others. You were required "on station" at 6,000 ft with your Spitfire from 1400-1600. The "beat" ran from Barmouth to Aberdovey (some 20 miles) with a procedure turn at each end. At endurance speed one complete circuit would take about 20 minutes, the Terriers would have 12 "firing passes" with a two-minute break in between as the aircraft was turning. We had no R/T communication at all with the gunners.

If you've seen one Welsh mountain, you've seen 'em all. And when you've seen the same one a dozen times in an afternoon, four afternoons a week, for a month or two, the sight tends to pall. Add in a good lunch in the Mess, the warm sun streaming through the canopy and the muted purr of your Merlin running at 1800, you might well drop off even if you hadn't been counting the sheep on the slopes of Cader Idris.

As the next stop would be an impact on good Welsh granite, or a splash-down in chilly Cardigan Bay, it was advisable to remain awake. The preferred method was to take up a paperback. You trimmed the Spit to fly S&L, aimed it at the far end of your beat, and set the D.I. at zero. Most people managed a page per 8-minute run, with a glance at D.I. and A.H. at the end of each paragraph. (I should perhaps add that in those days there was very little air traffic over North Wales).

At the end of your two-hour shift, it was back to the Mess for tea. The old coal ranges in our kitchen made perfect toast on their (nearly) red hot tops: with a lot of butter and jam it was food for the Gods. But it was a case of "first come, first served". All afternoon your Merlin had been running slowly under low boost. The plugs must need blowing out ! Up to 2850, nine pounds boost, nose down from 6,000, and "Home, James" past Harlech castle and Portmeirion across Caernarvon Bay at 250 knots.

Tearing over the Lleyn peninsula, the bee-line ran a few miles east of Pwllheli. The swimming pool of Butlin's camp lay exactly at the right angle to catch the late afternoon sun, it blazed like an enormous sapphire aginst the green hills. Then over to Valley to get to the Mess before all the toast had gone !

Enough for the moment to restore this Thread to its rightful position,

Good night, all,


Action This Day.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Jan 2013 at 18:05. Reason: Correct Spacing