By Bryan D. Hodgekins
Key Themes: Mental Health, Depression
About the Author
Bryan was born in Portsmouth in 1938. It was owing to the rough time he had as a child that he has, for many years, suffered with depression, which brought on hardship for his family owing to the lengthy time he had off work.
Like most of the wartime children, the men and women in the armed forces were their heroes so as soon he was able after leaving school, he joined the Air Force as a boy entrant, but found it was a struggle owing to his poor education, which although he didn’t know it at the time, brought on depression.
After leaving, he got a job as an apprentice electrician, where he was treated more as a labourer. He tried many different careers, mainly to get out of the rut he found himself in.
It was when he joined the Royal Marines that things started to change for him, for it was then that he did he feel like he was somebody. The added bonus was being accepted into the Special Boat service where he excelled. He then went on as an Electrical Officer in the Merchant Navy.
But it was then he found life was putting him down.
However, it wasn’t until he met his wife Yvonne that he realized he needed other outlets to keep the constant threat of depression away.
His wife encouraged him to go into amateur dramatics, which he enjoyed.
But the depression even now is always in the background, waiting to pounce onto that unguarded moment.
After having a good rest for a day or two while the Sunderland was being refuelled and re-armed in Gibraltar, Rusty thought when Bonzo was finished, they would fly on through the night down to Freetown. So not being the most patient person in the world, he called up John and some of the crew and went down to the slipway to see how it was progressing, when they were met by a Flight Sergeant coming from the opposite direction.
“Good morning sir,” he said with a grin and a salute, and told Rusty that everything had been completed; “We’ve even given it a good wash.”
“Why the smirk, Flight Sergeant?” John asked.
“Well,” said the Flight Sergeant, “there’s a sub parked by the jetty with a Captain who wants to meet you when you turn up, sir.”
Rusty and his crew were quite curious as to who he was. but continued on down to their Sunderland.
As they got nearer they could not help but notice a strange looking lump of metal sticking out of the top near to Hawkeye’s position.
Then, pointing at it, “What’s that?” asked John.
“Oh yes, well, that’s a new contraption that the Sparks had fitted.”
“What’s that then?” asked Hawkeye.
“Can’t tell you mate, it’s top secret. You’ll soon find out. Anyway you’ve got a bloke there, he’ll show you.” He saluted and went on his way.
The first thing they noticed when they got on board was that the Sunderland had new windows. The next thing they saw was the ginger headed Flight Sergeant sitting down with a new box of tricks with a strange looking big round dial on the front.
“Hello Gents, come to join me then?” But when he turned around and saw the officers he stood up and saluted.
“Never mind about that man,” said an interested Rusty.
“What is it?”
“It’s the new updated radar sir. And I’ve got to teach some chap they called Hawkeye to use it.”
“That’s me, chum” said Hawkeye, shaking his hand. “Glad to meet you, Flight. What do they call you then?”
“My name’s Daniel Drake.”
“That’s a bit of a mouthful. What’s your nickname?”
Hawkeye turned to John.
“I should have guessed that, sir. Anyway, when are we flying out sir?” John, shrugging his shoulders, said
“I don’t know.”
Rusty quickly butted in to the conversation;
Hawkeye began to panic.
“Tonight, sir; how am I going to get my brain around that radar in that time?”
“Didn’t they tell you then, Hawkeye?” said Ginger.
“Tell us what?” questioned Rusty.
“I’m coming with you.”
“Hope you’ve brought your own grub” said the engineer.
“You what, we on rations then?”
“Shut up Nuts,” said John, “you’ll get the bloke worried.”
“Ever had the experience of crossing the line?” chuckled Sparks.
“Crossing the line?” asked Ginger. “What’s that then?”
Sparks, with a big smile, said
“You’ll know when it happens.”
Listening to all the banter, Rusty shouted,
“Come on you crabby lot, leave the man alone and introduce yourselves to him properly, then go and check out your positions.”
While the crew were getting themselves sorted, there was a call from outside.
“Hello there, anybody at home?”
As Bob was the nearest to the hatch he answered the door, and on looking out he saw a naval officer standing there.
“Can I help you sir?”
“Yes please. Can I speak to your C.O?”
“ Yes sir, I’ll call him for you. Captain sir, there’s a naval officer here who wants to join the Air Force.”
“You what?” said Rusty. He then appeared, saying,
“John said he’s going to get you one day Bob. I see why.”
On seeing the naval officer;
“Hello, can I help you?”
“ Can I help you, can I help you?” questioned the naval captain.
“You saved me and my crew from a watery end.”
“Did we, how was that then?”
“Let me introduce myself. I am Captain Parker. I’m the commander of the submarine Dogfish. Look, before I go any further, have I your permission to come aboard?”
“Most certainly” replied Rusty. “Come on up.”
No sooner had he got on board than he held out his hand to Rusty and shook it with vigour.
“ Thank you, thank you,” he said. “And you, flight sergeant. Look, I haven’t got much time. I would like to thank the rest of your crew but we are sailing in an hour.”
“There is one question I would like to ask you. What the hell were you doing out in that storm?”
“Well you might say we’d gone crackers,” said Rusty “but the fact is, we were just passing by when we spotted you.”
“Well it’s been a pleasure meeting you, but…”
Rusty interrupted, saying “I’ll walk over to your boat with you.”
The Captain said his goodbyes to Bob, and with Rusty went on his way.
“Well,” murmured Bob,
“You don’t often get thanks from a submarine commander.”
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 12 July, 2012.