“The Long Awaited Moment” | Chapter 8 | “Surviving Victory”

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.

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