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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 1st Nov 2013, 22:14
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Danny:-
And yes, we were more popular in Holland !
Indeed, Danny, and hopefully that is still the case. I had the privilege to fly the annual commemorative para drop at the Arnhem DZ one year. The DZ of course was vast, but reduced to the size of a postage stamp by the masses of Dutch civilians who had turned out to witness it. Thankfully the nav got his CARP right and the half dozen or so stick of Paras that we dropped ensured that they all made the postage stamp.
For an Operation that essentially failed, ensuring that the population were thus condemned to a cruel winter of starvation before some relief was ensured by Bomber Command's Operation Manna airdrops (co-ordinated with the occupying Germans), it is perhaps surprising that the British are so highly rated, especially as Liberation had to wait until the war's end. They are though, and the hospitality that we were treated to by our hosts at Deelen testified to that.
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Old 1st Nov 2013, 22:40
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Chug,

I remember being GE on one of those trips. The night stop was a serious wake up to the reverence that the Dutch people held the British serviceman in. The only time I went to any town, this was Deelen, and never had to buy a beer all night. The best part was all the locals were very welcoming, fluent in English, as usual we were not, and knew the history. Despite the free drinks, a sobering insight into our own countries modern day attitudes at times.

Smudge
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Old 2nd Nov 2013, 00:30
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Quite agree there Smudge.

I took part in a couple of the Nijmegen events back in the 80's. The welcome from the local's both during the walk and while in our own free time was something I have never forgotten. I walked with a team of ATC cadets who were treated like king's (no lasses in those days) when the locals found out why they were in the Netherlands.

Wonderful people who were grateful for what we did during WWII despite of some of the things that happened. That's a lot more than some nations show towards us.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 02:14
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Danny, the "Coupleur", and Heerlen.

By now we were well settled-in in the Peugeot, and the more we saw of it, the more we liked it. The Coupleur did absolutely everything it said on the tin. On the steering column the arrangement
was:
..............#..(wheel, side on view)
R-2-4......#
+=+=+=#..(neutral)
1-3.........#
..............#

1 would climb up a wall. 4 was a geared-up (0.75, I think) overdrive. All your town driving was done in 2 and 3. Start in 2, it would easily take you to 40, then 3 went on to 75. On the open road/autobahn you'd "hook it up" into 4. This would take you very little faster (only to a true 80), but much more restfully, apart from a faint and not unpleasant whine.

The lever was spring-loaded to 2-3. Obviously you pushed away for R-1 (ideal for "shunting"). And the beauty of the whole thing was: you couldn't abuse it, whatever you did ! Start in 4 ? Certainly, Sir ! (it would be perfectly smooth, if you didn't mind being beaten from the lights by Steptoe's horse). Leave it in 3 in traffic, drift down to walking speed (or stop), pull away as slick as silk - no trouble.

As smooth as the best hydraulics, no slip, no creep, no penalty in power or consumption - and no clutch pedal. The little Coupleur handbook was not translated, but I was charmed by the requirements of maintien - pratiquement nul ! - although this was rather spoilt by the start of the next paragraph: "En cas de non-fonctionment", you were advised to consult "L'Agence Peugeot la plus prochain" - (there to be royally ripped-off, of course, but Peugeot was no worse than all the others in that respect).

The summer days passed by, we got to know the town centre shops, particularly the big department store "Vroom & Dreesman", from which you could get pretty well all you needed in the household line. Sometimes we went further afield to Geleen, but I don't think we did much shopping there. But we used to have dinner from time to time at a hotel, because we were always sure of a window table, directly under which we parked the car so that we could keep Mary, sleeping in her carricot on the back seat, in view all the time.

I shall never forget our first bottle of Sekt . (I don't recall what we were celebrating). I unwired the cork, the first impact left an indentation in the plaster on the wall, the lethal projectile went round the kitchen about three times before finally succumbing to gravity (reminding me of our cat Peter). The stuff (what was left of it) didn't taste at all bad, but our favourite was Moselle (not so far away on the map).

And the never-to-be-forgotten day when we had parked Mary's carricot normal to the settee back, so that the end stuck out over the carpet. She awoke and scrambled down to see what was afoot, The C.o.G came with her, carricot rotated 180º, and she landed on the carpet with carricot on top. The welkin rang with her indignant reproaches; we gathered her up and consoled her; and fortunately she proved to have incurred no damage.

Of course we paid the customary visit to Keukenhof to see the tulip gardens in all their glory. After we got back, we learned of the impending date of our move to the Volkspark, but before leaving Heerlen, we had a flying visit from my sister-in-law and nephew, who had been staying with our Dutch in-laws in Eindhoven. Iris's brother (in the RAF) had married a Dutch girl at the end of the war.

Together we went to Cologne, I had the address: Grossrotterweg 3 - (Big Red Lane), - off Hitzelerstraße (this always shocked the British ear; as they usually misheard, missing the all-important "ze"in the middle, and had to be reassured that no, we had not let the Germans name streets after their late unlamented Führer). "Hitzeler" means "Furnaceman", or "Stoker" (IIRC) - if you really want to know.

Armed with a good street map, it was not difficult to find, after we'd regained our composure from negotiating the Köln-Sud roundabout: this was almost as bad as the Paris Rond-Pointe, redeemed only by German lane discipline. As I don't think we had the keys yet, we could only marvel at this vast mansion that was soon to be our home. On the way back, we pulled in at GK; I remember showing Barry my room in the Mess: he was much taken with my Mess kit. Later "Isn't he a bit old to be a Flying Officer ?", he asked, after the individual had passed by: "Ex-Warrant Officer", I replied, rather surprised by the question, (for Barry had done his NS in the Army). Then back to Heerlen.

Bit late now. Goodnight, all,

Danny42C.


On our way again !

Last edited by Danny42C; 3rd Nov 2013 at 16:11. Reason: Spacing.
 
Old 3rd Nov 2013, 12:12
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Danny your new home seems to be near the:
Bundeswehrfachschule, Kardorfer Straße, Cologne, Germany
which if copied and pasted into the search box of,
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps
does indeed reveal the Hitzelerstrasse, but no Big Red Lanes, numbered 3 or otherwise.
The satellite button does reveal the park though, but unfortunately the little yellow man gives no street view of Germany, or at least not this part of it anyway. Can you nonetheless spot your roof, as you did at Hayling Island, or has it been swept away since?
We never got to see your home at Heerlan, but here at least is some information about the town, and the Google Maps little yellow man at least strides helpfully throughout Holland.
https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=e...SN5sdcQ&dtab=2
Re your Peugeot 403, could the reason that the Smiths-Jaeger system did not last very long be that it was electrical in operation as well as being controlled? I'm sure that I am not alone in having been driven to near despair as I tried to trace and cure intermittent (as they invariably are) electrical faults on my various cars. Now all that is compounded by the ever increasing use of electronics, which effectively cuts DIY diagnosis out of the loop completely, and you are left to the tender mercies of the experts who perfect the age old habit of sucking the breath in through their teeth before pronouncing that, "Well, it won't be cheap, I'm afraid".

Last edited by Chugalug2; 3rd Nov 2013 at 12:31.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 22:48
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Chugalug,

Your: "or has it been swept away since ?" All too true, I'm afraid. (I'll go into much more detail in my next post). I've tried to pinpoint our "flat" in Heerlen, too, but my memory of an "Akenstraat" (of course, not "Akenstraße !) or any thing like it, seems to be false. But I've found a "Parallelweg" which twangs a faint memory as being nearby, but nothing more.

I've often wondered why the Smiths-Jaeger "Coupleur" was not a commercial success, although Peugeot used it in the 404, before going over to full auto on the 504. And Renault used it briefly, too. (I can't find anything to support my earlier tale of the Rootes supposed full-auto development of the magnetic clutch principle).

For the Coupleur had everything going for it. Although it cost me about 6% on top of the basic car (which would be around the price of a full autobox on a new car today), the mechanism was so simple really that, in quantity production, it should cost little more to manufacture than the friction clutch it replaced. And it should not be difficult to design it to the exact same size.

I take your point about electrical complications, but again, all it was was an interlocking system of on-off switches which even I could understand (and not a "chip" in sight, either !)

I think that the sad truth was, after the years when the "O-matics" had got such a bad name, that when a real solution appeared, nobody wanted to know any more. But we were "sold" on it. In the years since, I've run six cars, five of them full hydraulic autos, (EDIT) and I'd swap any one of the five without a moments' hesitation now for my old Coupleur back again !

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 4th Nov 2013 at 15:29. Reason: Correct the Meaning.
 
Old 3rd Nov 2013, 23:33
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Danny, Google Maps offers Akerstraat, Heerlen, the Netherlands, could be that the one? You can find it at:-
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&s...k&cd=1&spell=1
If it is, the little yellow man can be dropped into it to view and wander as you please.
As to the Volkspark, sorry to yet again shoot your fox (must learn to be patient!). It is somewhat unsettling if a former home no longer exists, as though one's own life is being airbrushed from history.
From what you say, the Smith-Jaeger system deserved better than its brief spell in the limelight. It certainly deserves a better epitaph than the web affords it. Little or nothing there, and what is mainly in French. It would appear that Smiths saw it as just another product. Make the money, move on. A shame!
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Old 4th Nov 2013, 00:30
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Chugalug,

Thanks ! Of course ! - Akerstraat (why didn't I think of that ?). It's the place all right, but it's all been changed. IIRC, we were on the E side down the S end, and there was a school with a field opposite, but I can't get a fix.

There is a Parallelweg too, about 1 km NE. I wonder if I came in that way from GK ?

Danny

Last edited by Danny42C; 8th Nov 2013 at 20:45. Reason: Holding Map wrong way Up !
 
Old 4th Nov 2013, 13:04
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Danny, what I mean is surely it's a lack of Dutch skills that's the problem, not German, as your wife is in the butcher in Heerlen?

I think I'm being very stupid here, somehow, but like a terrier with a rat I'm not going to let go!

Last edited by Reader123; 4th Nov 2013 at 14:24.
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Old 4th Nov 2013, 14:42
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You've got me confused now Danny. The Parallelweg (to the railway?) seems to be to the NW of Akerstraat and south of the railway (or tram?) so I can't see how that would be a way home from GK. If you exited GK on the Bruunsem side, the present road system would seem to favour the Heerenweg to get home. From the Teveren side maybe the L42/ Heerlenerstrasse?
Similarly, the Akerstraat seems to run NW/SE, so were you at the East end of it, and on the South side? There are two schools showing on the map today (they show up as you zoom in), the Grotius College and the Bernardinuscollege, both on the north side of the road, the former being at its East end, the latter midway. Does any of that help?
Not surprised though if it doesn't. I grew up in Bournemouth, cycling all over it as a kid. I get lost now every time I try to drive around it, with so many new road systems and so much rebuilding. Akerstraat looks like its been "doubled" in its time for a start.
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Old 4th Nov 2013, 18:16
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Reader123,

I admire your tenacity. ("But they can't build the Boys of the Bulldog Breed/That made Old England's Name").

None of our people (AFAIK) learned Dutch. Many Dutch spoke fluent German (particularly in the border country). But they didn't like it (could the events of the recent past have had anything to do with that ?)

But the poor Englander had only their own language (and some a smattering of French), never mind another, and a third was quite out of the question.

So we got along just fine over there with English and pidgin German !.....D.


Chugalug,

I've edited my #4494 and #4496 above (Senior Moments !). I only have a general recollection of being somewhere down the "bottom" of Akerstraat, and on the eastern side, but on the satellite map nothing is familiar. Fifty years have passed: I can't remember the house number, (that's it I'm afraid). But thanks for your help.

So the Parallelweg might have been some short-cut on the way to & from GK.... ..D.

Regards, Danny.
 
Old 6th Nov 2013, 00:14
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Danny is On the Move - again !

The day came in July or August. GK sent a "Maggie" (Magirus-Deutz) canvas-top truck to take our belongings to the Volkspark, having first collected our washing machine from Stores; we went in the car, and of course were waiting for the "Maggie" when it arrived. There we found that its normal task had been - coal delivery to the MQs!! Mary's beautiful pram was now well coated with coal dust (for they'd not covered it in any way), and it was ages before we could get it all out. We were not amused !

And then we started to explore the vast space (which seemed even bigger after the tiny Dutch "flat"). As far as we remember, we had five bedrooms. But the bathroom was small. We had the most enormous lounge, you could hold a Ball in it. As the house was far too big for us, we simply shut-off all the parts of the house which we did not use.

I immediately set out to investigate the heating arrangements (for das winter kommt bestimmt ). There was a large boiler room in the cellars, and it seemed that unlimited coal and coke would be supplied free on demand * - but no hitzeler. That task would fall to me (it was the same in OMQs). But I was skilled in the art: it would be no problem. And I'd radiators in the garage too !

* also free electricity and gas (?): courtesy of the German state.

And now I've been digging into little more detail about the post-war history of the Volkspark (with the aid of Google/Wiki), and have turned up far more about it than ever we knew while we were there. A website devoted to the Service schools on the place quoted the surprising total of no less than 3,000 Service MQs in the Park area. Clearly we'd built a sizable British military suburb in this enclave at the South end of Cologne, (similar to the military "cantonments" of British India). Naturally, there was a large NAAFI shop, and there must have been a Medical Centre (although we never needed it), and Cologne was just up the road for anything else we might want.

Now our house (and doubtless all the rest) were proper, solidly built places, good for a lifetime (I've mentioned before that ours was designed for easy conversion into two flats) at some future date when (I assume) they would revert to the municipality of Cologne. And Cologne (when Bomber Command had finished with it) would have a housing shortage that could well last twenty years !

When USAAC General "Hap" Arnold (the instigator of the eponymous Scheme (in which I learned to fly in '41-'42), toured the German cities in 1945, even he was shocked by what he saw. "One gets a feeling of horror," he wrote on seeing Cologne: "Nothing, nothing is left." (D.Tel. "Review" on 19.10.13.).

You would therefore expect that, when we finally pulled out, the local authority would welcome this windfall with open arms. But now a surprising thing: if you turn up the map now - it's all gone ! The whole Park has returned to open green space. Hitzelerstraße (runs N-S through Park) is still there, but Grossrotterweg ? Gone ! And there was a good 40-50 years of life left in these houses. Why ? - It's a very long shot, but if anyone can explain it to me, I'd be very grateful.

Goodnight again,

Danny42C.


Waste not, want not.

Last edited by Danny42C; 6th Nov 2013 at 17:45. Reason: Add Text.
 
Old 6th Nov 2013, 08:10
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So we got along just fine over there with English and pidgin German !.....D
'Mongo', the Nav Rad on my first Vulcan crew, had been in Wing Weapons at RAF Bruggen during the Cold War and didn't believe one needed to speak much German.... "Just shout at the bug.gers! They appreciate it and will click heels, answer with a "Zu Befehl!" and get on with it. Germans appreciate being given orders to follow!"

Quite the diplomat. Darn good Nav Rad though.
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Old 7th Nov 2013, 20:20
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Danny,

Could it have anything to do with the "theoretical" re emergence of the German state after the wall came down, and their need to remove memories of Cold War occupation ? It would sound a likely, political, proposition to me, but lets face it few political propositions worry about public taxpayers costs or losses. I'm sure that, as you say, many of these house had life left in them, how sound were they politically though ?

Smudge
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Old 8th Nov 2013, 00:40
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The Volkspark Houses.

Smudge,

It's a moot point. I don't know at what date the Volkspark was handed back to the German State (or the Municipality of Cologne), but I never heard of it happening up to the time we left RAF(G) in Autumn '62.

By then, the original "Force of Occupation" idea was long out of the window; we were all pals in NATO now, facing the Tartar hordes together. I cannot think that the Germans were resolved to extinguish all traces of our sojourn in their green & pleasant land (even if we'd been uninvited guests in the first place).

And the fact that they had designed the big places like ours so that they could easily be converted into two smaller ones seemed to suggest that they intended to take the lot back at some future date (after all, they'd paid to build them !).

I don't think there could have been any politics involved. It might have been that a desire to get their former big park back outweighed the need for more housing (but that's just my guess).

Danny.
 
Old 8th Nov 2013, 17:34
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Danny42C

got used to the Dutch shops and markets
I was at JHQ Rheindahlen from 1972 - 75 and my wife and I regularly did our Saturday shopping over the border in Roermond or Venlo.

Here's a couple of photos from my album taken in the market at Venlo - ahh! smoked eels - and mackerel!






FWIW We had some German friends who complained that when they asked for directions in Holland, the Dutch usually replied: "links, links und dann geradeaus"
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Old 8th Nov 2013, 21:02
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Warmtoast,

I like the Durch way of showing their visitors the door ! And we were never ones for the Aalen - too much like snakes - but smoked mackerel, now you're talking.

In the background is our next purchse, a Renault 16, which I'm still trying to forget.

Thanks for the nice pics - the second in particular (tulpen aus Amsterdam !)

Danny
 
Old 9th Nov 2013, 01:00
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Danny tells some Funny Stories

Now we have ignored GK for quite long enough. There was, in fact, little to write about. There was very little "Approach" work, in the true sense of the word. Both the Canberra and the Javelin carried Navigators: I suppose these would consider any attempt by their pilots to seek outside help in finding their way home as a slur on their competence.

But with two squadrons of pilots, many wanting to upgrade their Instrument Ratings, the CPN-4 had a steady stream of business all the time, so that kept us in practice. But I've no more stirring tales to tell on a par with the Night of the Laarbruch Canberra.

So I must fall back on Funny Things which Happened. And these are sometimes Funny-Comic, and some Funny-Tragic. And in both cases there is a difficulty. Did I see this with my own eyes ? Or was I just told about it by a good witness ? Or was it something that happened Before My Time ? (always a good cop-out), and therefore more or less Legendary ? And what about the frailty of memories after 50 years ?

Bearing all this in mind, let's start with three Funny Things which Happened to Javelins. The first story is soon told: Chap comes in on 27 with P.N.s speed plus five knots for the wife and five for the pension. Brakes none too good, runway wet and slippery, goes off the end, punches through a wire chain-link fence and comes to rest a few yards further on (no arrester-barriers then). Crew climb out, become only case in recorded history of a crew to land in one country (Germany) and jump down in another (Holland).

Next (rather more interesting) one. Javelin over N. German plain one dark night. Very loud bang, all engine dials on one side drop to zero. But ship still answers helm, and other engine running smoothly. So they bring it back and park on the line. W/Cdr (Tech) and his Adj standing by with two stepladders and torches. Each climbs up one end and peers in. They find themselves looking at one another - everything has disappeared. "Dr Livingstone, I presume", said the Adj (and was roundly rebuked for levity). The Sapphire was, of course, in bits over a square mile or so of territory, but no casualty was reported of man or beast.

The third story is so improbable that I can only describe it as an enduring legend in RAF(G). This is as it was told to me (and I take no responsibility for any of it). Again a Javelin was airborne one dark night. There was a massive electrical failure which put all the cockpit lighting out, and disabled all the electrical instruments. Apparently this scatterbrained crew had not thought to include any torches in their kit, so they could not read the E2 compass, either.

To make a bad situation worse, the radios failed as well (now credulity is really being strained). They had been heading South (more or less) before the disasters struck, and in the original turmoil had not being paying much heed to what the aircraft was doing. What it had been doing was to turn onto East(ish).

They had a faint horizon, but high cloud cover, and could not see any stars. In this condition, they crossed into the no-man's land (I forget what it was called) which served as a buffer between the two opposing Zones. And out of the far side into the Russian Zone !

End of Javelin, end of crew, and end of story (you might suppose). But now a suspicion that all might not be well arose in the Nav. He cast his mind back to his Scouting days and advised his pilot to climb up to clear sky on top, and there Ursa Major and Polaris shone for all to see - out to the left ! They did a Rate-4 turn and "poured the coal on".

Our sector radars had been watching this drama unfold with horror, and I can only suppose that their Russian counterparts had concluded that they had a defector coming over, and stayed their hand. But when it turned tail, they reacted. The Russian Battle Flight was just ten miles behind our pair as they fled over the border back into the Western Zone.

Now the curious reader will be wondering: how did they get down at all ? (otherwise there would be no story). I don't know. Did they fly the triangles ? (Was that system even in operation then ?) I have no idea of the date of all this, could have been any time the Javelins had been out there. Perhaps they got a "shepherd" on to them. Perhaps they stumbled on a lit airfield and took a chance. Perhaps they banged-out. Who knows ?

And that's the story. Believe it or not as you wish
 
Old 9th Nov 2013, 13:15
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There seems to have been something peculiar to the Javelin that attracted larger than life stories. The classic FEAF one was of the one that supposedly was scrambled to intercept an Indonesian C130 incursion of Malaysian Airspace during Confrontation, and reportedly returned to Tengah minus a Firestreak missile. Those present at the time are adamant that no such incident occurred, and yet the legend persists.
Not casting any doubt on your stories, Danny, though I see you do that somewhat for yourself. Your Cold War tale of the testing of the ADIZ that bordered East Germany reminds me of one that occurred over West Berlin. Evidently the Control Zone was thrown into confusion by the entry into it from the East of an unidentified aircraft with which no radio contact could be made. It plodded on well into the Western Sector until, as though tired of the game, it turned East and plodded out again. Telephone lines buzzed, the Russian staff at the ASC were as confused as everyone else, but they finally received an explanation from their superiors and passed it on in turn to their Western counterparts. It was a transport aircraft bound for Schonefeld that for whatever reason went right past it until discovering its mistake.
The Russians were very anxious that it was understood that the incident was completely unintentional, as against many others, in the corridors and in the zone, that were very intentional! "We are very sorry, and you may be assured that those involved will be severely punished". There was no good reason to disbelieve them...
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Old 10th Nov 2013, 02:13
  #4520 (permalink)  
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Chugalug,

Yes, you have to take "with a pinch of salt" any stories which haven't taken place in front of your eyes (old Irish proverb: "Believe nothing that you hear - and only half of what you see !")

But my next Javelin story (they do seem to hog the limelight, don't they) was all too real.

It is nice to hear of our Russian friends (?) being so apologetic about the incursion - perhaps they weren't ready for Armageddon just then !

Danny.
 

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