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– to have retrieved that signed chit of mine in the midst of the mobile battles of that last campaign was a real miracle. Needless to say, it went unpaid, for on the invoice they sent me was a column headed ‘Remarks’ and I was able to assure the Ministry that the socks had been destroyed by ‘enemy (USAAF) action’ against that marshalling yard at Mucke. My third logbook finished with the entry of the Bottrop flight, adding2 hours to my record and bringing it to its Grand Total of 2,245 hours 40 minutes.


* * * * * B


ad currency drives out the good, but when it comes to memories it seems to be the reverse. That certainly seems to have been true of the scars and the benefits which five and a half years of war had bequeathed and, for me at least, there were left behind not only memories but influences which I hope were salutary. The give-and-take, no-time-to-hate side of Service life, particularly of life in my operational Squadron, was one of them. Life at that time had been literally, for many of us, too short for rancour, envy, criticism or hatred. Another influence which remained with me sprang from the scenes of


violence I had witnessed, particularly the destruction of those German villages and towns, the thuggery of the SS men at Mucke and, not least, the physical violence which confined us to the care of guards and the inside of those barbed wire compounds. I suffered the loss of personal freedom for a minimal period as compared with real ‘kriegies’ who had been imprisoned for years, but it was enough to convince me that freedom is worth fighting for, even to the tragic end such a fight might bring. The sight of those drab-clad slaves, shot by their comrades whose faces pictured a hopelessness of such depths that one order from their masters was no different from another, is one I have never forgotten. The last minute over Bottrop taught me something else, or at least reinforced the lessons of tolerance which life in the Squadron mess had taught. My crew, like many a one before us, had been shot down in flames and, except for poor Jack Frost, had lived to tell the tale. I myself, stupid or unfortunate enough to pull my ripcord when I did, had got away with a one in a million chance of survival, for I have never heard of anyone else who did that. And the lesson was that nothing, simply nothing, could ever be closer to disaster than that. No event, no person, was ever going to inflict distress or disappointment, misfortune or hardship to match what those few seconds had threatened yet had failed to deliver. Years later, during 1973 whilst I was in my third year as Chairman and Chief Executive of Brown Bayley Steels Limited, my career in the steel industry was due to be rewarded by my becoming, during the following twelve months, both Master Cutler in Sheffield and President of The British Independent Steel Producers’ Association. Each of them was an appointment of no little prestige,


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