As promised, The Proposal and the Wedding. The picutre isn't Babs as our hero and heroine never sent me a photo as requested! I hope you enjoy the final installment.

Again, in his own write, John Macrae-Hall, RAF pilot:


The Hunter 7 two-seat trainer was not in service at this point and the new pilots landings could only be monitored from the ground. To aid this endeavour a Duty Instructor was installed in the Runway Caravan to fill a similar role as the Deck Landing officer on an Aircraft Carrier. One fine day I found myself so employed. One sat high up in the little greenhouse on top of the caravan with a 360-degree vista and was accompanied by the normal Runway controller. The Flt Sgt on duty this day was a rather excitable Irish gentleman. He had descended into the body of the caravan, to brew tea, leaving me with the Very pistol "On watch'. One aircraft had reported a red undercarriage light so I had a Red Very Cartridge loaded, ready for action, with the safety "off ". Poised for action, with my elbow resting on the ledge and the window open, I monitored the scene.

Down below, behind the Night Flying Curtain the Sgt dropped the teapot. My hand slipped from the supporting framework, my elbow remained elevated, my finger, on the trigger, jerked and the gun fired with an almighty bang! The Very Cartridge Flare is a large piece of Ordnance and in a confined space quite alarming. It struck me on the knee and then bounced around the interior issuing forth dense clouds of Red Smoke, in the process, setting fire to the curtain and scorching my trousers. In the ensuing confusion I jumped down from the high stool and dashed for the door. The Sgt. passed me going back toward the greenhouse where he had left his Fags! Outside, bleeding extensively from the knee and with smouldering trousers, I surveyed the scene. Atop the smoking caravan, leaping about like a Dervish, was the frantic Irishman screaming that the IRA were upon us! The Fire and Rescue crew, who arrived at that point, simply fell about laughing. The Flt Sgt was later sent away for Re-habilitation. I paid yet another visit to my Tailor.

Proposal and The Wedding

As time passed I found that I was in that strange human condition, a state of "Being in Love", which effects us all at some time. Accordingly I determined to ask Babs to many me. DD was U/S at the time and I pleaded with Curly Smith to lend me his Standard 10 Coupe for the trip to Solva. With some misgivings he very kindly did so, touched by the romance of it all, if only for a moment! On my way down, passing through the hamlet of Newgale, one is confronted by a very formidable hill. Half way up, the engine died. I then peered at the fuel gauge, reading empty.

These were the days of post Suez petrol rationing, and very little traffic was about. Recalling other Auto-fuel systems I thought I'd try reversing up the hill. Just behind me was a convenient farm entrance, into which I rolled back. Then, rolled out again, pointing nose downhill. As the car accelerated gently, the engine burst into life. I reversed back for the remainder of the climb. At the summit I made another reversal. The rest of the trip to Solva was mainly downhill and on the final descent into the village the engine died once more and I rolled to a stop with dry tank just outside the garage in the main street.

Upon my return, Curly, some while later, complained that he didn't mind me borrowing his car, but he did object to me eating all his Mintos! Oh yes, by the way, the love of my life did accept my proposal and we were now officially engaged.

After all the adventures and ensuing excitement Babs and I decided we should marry in June, and on Wednesday, June the fifth, 1957 we did so, in St Aidans Church, Solva. A great crowd of my family, friends and relatives descended upon the village the previous weekend, and commenced a weeklong party in which the whole village enthusiastically took part. It is remembered to this day!

Appointed time of 11 o'clock, as I anxiously waited at the Altar, the only missing component was Herself and her Father! Of course it is a Bride's privilege to be a trifle late and some 8 minutes later, they arrived and the ceremony commenced. Just as she said, "I do", with a deafening crash and thunder, Four Hunters in close formation flew over the church at about 50 feet and 500 knots. Roy Watson, my flight commander, and some of the lads had timed the fly past to take place as we left the church, but because of our delay, the timing didn't work. However everyone thought it was marvellous!

After the usual pause for Photo ops, Babs and I departed for the Reception at the Ship Inn. Upon arrival, Babs tripped in the doorway and fell into the arms of Officers Colston, Gribble and Bowley, clad in best Blue's and already well into the Champers!

It would seem the party, which ensued, was monumental. Babs and I departed for the
Lake District early in the afternoon, while the going was good. The village street outside the Ship took on a surrealist aspect as we made our getaway.


In the small hours of the night the Gallant Officers from Pembrey lurched back to Base with only one minor mishap en-route. Passing through Carmarthen a sudden stop was called for and the sleeping Officer Gribble on the rear seat, slid forward, catching his arm on the door handle. The door opened and he fell out onto the roadway. Startled but unharmed. That so amused and enlivened the others it kept them awake for the remainder of the journey!

9 comments

  1. Toni V.S. // August 23, 2008 at 1:54 PM  

    I love this story! I keep seeing it in my mind. Especially the scene with someone making tea while our hero sits on top of the caravan with a weapon. It's all so understated and that makes it even better--like something from "Masterpiece Theater." Should we mention at this point that "fags" also means "cigarettes"?

  2. Toni V.S. // August 23, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

    Linda, I also love that picture. It is so Gibson Girl!

  3. Nightingale // August 23, 2008 at 3:40 PM  

    Thanks, Toni. I enjoyed John's writing so much I asked if I could post it. I have another piece on airplanes if you'd like to read it.

  4. Mary Ricksen // August 23, 2008 at 6:05 PM  

    We all love a man in uniform. It's so classic.

  5. Mary Marvella // August 23, 2008 at 7:41 PM  

    What a lovely story and so British!

  6. Anonymous // August 23, 2008 at 8:47 PM  

    Linda,
    Wonderful story! I really enjoyed reading all the installments.

    The Scarlet Pumpernickel

  7. Arkansas Cyndi // August 23, 2008 at 11:23 PM  

    I loved the crashing thunder of the jets just she says "I Do" Couldn't have timed that if they tried!

  8. Joanne // August 24, 2008 at 9:09 AM  

    Great story. The girl in the picture is beautiful.

  9. Nightingale // August 24, 2008 at 11:04 AM  

    Thanks everyone. I'll tell John and Babs and they'll be "most delighted" I'm sure.