The following is an excerpt from Chapter 8, “The Long Awaited Moment” (pages 156-158) of “Surviving Victory”
With all my jinking around, I had become separated from the squadron and I couldn’t get my port wing up, but she was still flying. I throttled back to just enough revs to stay in the air. I was alone now, a few miles off the French coast. If Jerry decided to come after me now, he would have easy pickings.
I turned due north for the closest chunk of English soil I could find …preferably home base. Beachy Head was about 80 degrees north …no need to call for a vector. I stayed at 300 feet, not wanting to waste fuel on climbing. But that was a mistake …I was relying strictly on my compass, the directional gyro having toppled. With my port wing low it wasn’t accurate, but I didn’t know that and I was heading too far west. Fifteen minutes went by without seeing land and, when I climbed up for a look …there on the horizon was the Isle of Wight. That was no bloody good … the place was all hills and valleys. I banked a little to port and picked out St. Alban’s Head on my nose …with Bournemouth just beyond. My fuel gauge needle was now almost on empty and I was still a couple of miles from the cliffs at Anvil Point. Should I climb up now and bail out in sight of a rescue crew or take a chance on putting her down in a field? I had about 400 feet, when I cleared the coast and spotted a gently rolling stretch of pasture almost straight ahead …just beyond a patch of trees. I banked gently towards it and throttled back to almost stalling speed …determined to stretch out the last drop of fuel …we were down to three hundred feet and I was holding her off …the pasture was coming up now, just beyond the line of trees …250 feet …almost there … just give me another five seconds baby and I’ll belly you in …Shit! The engine sputtered twice, died and the prop froze. I dropped my seat to the floor and cut the ignition just as we hit the tops of the trees still doing about 80.
We took a lot of punishment in the next 15 seconds. Through the high pitched screech of splintering wood and ripping metal, I closed my eyes and saw a rag doll with my face …a giant hand was shaking it ….angrily. Suddenly, the violent battering stopped. Except for hissing sounds, all was silent. I opened my eyes, popped the harness lock and stood up. What the hell was that in the busted rear-view mirror? I dropped back down to have another look …God, my face, bathed in blood. To hell with that …but my back …Jesus!
The only way I could get out of the cockpit was to step backwards onto the twisted and battered port wing. That’s when I notice the fuselage. It had snapped off right behind the cockpit, flipped over and lay at a 90 degree angle. Then through the trees I saw a little cottage …Okay, that’s where I’ll get help. Crawling over shattered trees and mangled branches, around the battered engine cowl, the twisted prop and starboard wing I head for the house …above me, the sound of a fractured branch slowly succumbing to its injury …cracks, rips free and crashes to the ground. I keep going, but am stopped by a wire fence. I try to climb over it. My back won’t let me, but somehow I get under it, stumble to the house where a couple of frightened faces appear at a window then quickly vanish behind a curtain. I pound on the door …silence …I shout for help …again nothing …shit, HELP is an English word. Do I look like a damned Jerry? Bastards, probably can’t deal with the sight of blood! I look around. There is a dirt road leading from the house. I head down the road and see a car. A Morris Minor. The driver’s door is open. I’m bent over double, but somehow reach in and hold the horn button down. A guy comes running out of the trees. “You the pilot?” I nod. “Saw you go in, been trying to find you.” He gets up close. “Jesus, what happened?”
“The bastards got me,” I groaned, “and my back is killin’ me. Get me …get me …to a doctor.” He’s helping me around the car and onto the front seat.
“I can do better than that,” he said. “There’s a military hospital in Warmwell. I’ll have you there in a jiff.” We went down the road a couple hundred yards and pulled up in front of a little cottage. “Won’t be a minute,” he said, and he wasn’t …bringing me a pillow. “Let me slip this behind your back,” he said and climbed in. For a half mile I braced myself against the bouncing of the car before passing out. The next thing I remember was a needle going into my rear before I passed out again.