A continuation of John's adventures in Wales -- Part I posted yesterday, below.
Note: The photo with yesterday's post was the aircraft "Vampire" mentioned.
The OCU was initially equipped with Vampires and included a Target Towing flight equipped with Mosquitos, Tempests Vs, a Balliol, a Chipmunk and the last Oxford in the RAF. I had previously flown the "Mossie" at Sylt and lost no time in getting checked out on the Balliol, Tempest & Oxford. Soon after arrival I acquired a young Labrador Pup and a 1927 Austin 7 "Chummy" for a set of wheels. The Dog was named Pernod and the car, painted yellow and black, became "DD". I normally carried a case of Double Diamond around to prop up the passenger seat back rest, and in case of dire emergency on a Sunday (the pubs in Wales did not open on Sundays in those days).
The next show was on the 22nd of July 1955, for an Air Day at RNAS Brawdy. Their Commander Air was the legendary Commander "Winkle" Brown who was a very feisty wee Scot. The RAF, having suffered a spate of Air display accidents, had placed severe restrictions on such activities insisting upon nothing under 1500 ft etc, and we were restricted to a 3 aircraft formation. Arriving at Brawdy (nr. St Davids) we went through our practice for an OK from "Winkle". At the de-brief his terse comment was, "That was very nice RAF, now if you'll just bring it down to where you can be seen, we'll all be very pleased!" We did the display from "deck level" and this pleased all concerned.
Whilst waiting for our slot in the programme two events took place. A Naval Aircraft doing its thing suffered a lapse of judgement and ploughed in. Strangely enough it didn't appear to be very serious, just a cloud of dust and a small amount of smoke. The Announcer/ Commentator paused for a moment and then, after an obvious prompt from Winkle, said "We shall now have a demonstration by our Fire fighting and Crash Crew"!
On a rather happier note, whilst waiting for our display, I saw an absolutely stunning young lady with gorgeous Titian Red hair sitting alone on the grass nearby. Summoning up courage I wandered over to introduce myself Trying to appear nonchalant and debonair I managed, somehow, to trip over my own foot and fell at her feet. Apologizing profusely and feeling completely stupid I said "Look, I have to dash off and do my thing just now. Please don't go away. May I see you when we've landed?"
After landing I dashed over, only to find her gone. In desperation I ran over to the control tower nearby and persuaded the announcer to broadcast an appeal to the crowd for "The young lady with red hair and wearing a yellow dress to report to the Control Tower for a very urgent message". She appeared soon after and I stumbled an apology, and asked if I could meet her that coming Weekend. And so I met my future wife, Babs.
Babs lived in the picturesque Village of Solva adjacent to Brawdy and situated between Haverfordwest and St Davids, some 65 miles west of Pembrey. I had arranged to meet her in Haverfordwest on a Saturday morning outside a Dentist's surgery after her appointment there. Upon arriving I parked "DD" behind a very large and shiny new Bentley R type. Shortly thereafter the surgery door opened and Babs, looking impossibly beautiful, emerged. Greeting her I said " Hello, I have the car over here." gesturing toward the Bentley which totally obscured the tiny Austin 7. Her eyes lit up as she moved toward the front passenger door of the Bentley.
"No! No!" I cried as I gestured behind the Bentley, "We're parked here!"
As she finally saw DD I expected a crestfallen look, but instead she merely appeared bemused. I suppose that the little car, with its recent coat of fresh yellow and black paint had a charm of it's own. After seating Babs carefully into the seat, I slipped into the drivers seat attempting to appear nonchalant and hoping that the wretched self- starter would engage and I would be spared the indignity of having to leap about, twirling the crank handle etc. etc.
"DD" was on her best behaviour and sprang into life. Determined to make a stylish departure I slipped into 1st gear. Now the Austin Seven had a "sudden death" clutch action with all of a quarter of an inch engagement travel. In my nervous condition my foot slipped and DD shot forward like a thing demented. To my horror my lovely passenger was rapidly rotated backwards as her seat back collapsed. She was wearing, that day, the then current fashionable Dirndl skirt and frilly petticoat beneath. I remember, very clearly, the vision of a beautiful pair of legs up in the air, terminating in lacy white panties.
To be very fair, Babs took it all very well as I stumbled my tortured apologies. In order to create a good impression I had removed the usual case of beer that supported the passenger seat back and substituted it with a metal tube. The sudden acceleration had caused the bar to slip out of place, allowing the seat back to assume the fully reclined position! Full credit to Babs, she maintained her composure throughout, in fact a wee while later she was laughing about it. Later in our lives our friend, the poet Sean McCarthy, always referred to Babs as "The beautiful Welsh princess". He was not wrong!
TO BE CONTINUED, OUR FINAL INSTALLMENT TOMORROW.