Canadians & Angels????

The first photo in the post is of me at Citadel Hill with my car, a Singer Gazelle, definitely not a Vauxhall? What has this to do with the title? not much. In the summer of 1962 I was aboard the submarine Taciturn based at Plymouth England. We had just changed squadrons from Portsmouth to Devonport. Like so many, Devonport sailors I had friends in Portsmouth, and Portsmouth sailors had friends in Devonport. On weekends the road between the two cities saw many sailor passing in opposite directions. That was the case for me one summer weekend, I was planning to hitch hike to Portsmouth. Hitch hiking was popular, cheap and safe in those days and in uniform a good guarantee of getting a lift. Using public transport, trains-buses was time consuming and always indirect. Plymouth to London to Portsmouth and back used up most of the weekend. Hitch hiking was faster and sometimes a lot of fun, I travelled in a variety of carriages, once a farmer gave me a ride on his tractor, hey it was better than walking. On another occasion a young married couple stopped and picked me up in their bubble car. The three of us squeezed onto the tiny single bench seat. (I have post a photo of a similar little car at bottom of blog). What has all this got to do with Canadians and Angels you ask??? Wait, I’m getting to that. On this particular weekend I was lucky a Canadian submariner who was training with us, offered me a ride. He and his wife were driving to Portsmouth and had plenty of room. I was quite stunned when he rolled up in a brand new Vauxhall. This car had just been purchased direct from the factory in left hand drive, he was leaving the following week for home and taking the new car with him. Canadians could save huge amounts of money buying a car from the factory and shipping it home. Off we went heading for Portsmouth the three of us sitting on the front bench seat of this lovely new car. I was a bit nervy as the passenger because every time he edged the car into the oncoming lane it was me first exposed. We reached a nice long stretch of dual carriageway (4 Lane Hwy to you colonials) and increase speed. Just as we were about to pass a large lorry (truck to colonials) it began turning into our lane. We crashed and I put my head through the windscreen, his wife broke a leg and our driver only suffered minor cuts and bruises. I was rushed unconscious to Devonport by ambulance to the Naval hospital. In the operating room they cleaned a large gash and put twelve stitches in my forehead all while I remained out. Okay Okay!! I’m coming to the Angel part. On Sunday morning I began coming too, but couldn’t remember much. I realized I’d been hurt but had no idea where I was. That was until I heard hymn singing, I tried to open my eyes that were party covered by a bandage. The first thing to come into focus was six or seven Angels singing to me. Wow!! I thought I must be dead and had arrived in heaven. However as my mind cleared and my vision focused I realized I was in a hospital ward and a Sunday morning service was in progress. My Angels were choir boys, I guess I was a wee bit presumptuous thinking I had been admitted into Heaven. Eventually I recovered after a plastic surgeon had re-stitched my head with thirty two stitches that looked like a forehead zipper until they came out. Some months later I was deemed fit for sea and sent to Scotland to join the submarine Alcide. You probably think my story is over now, Right. Wrong, Early one morning in August 1963 I was travelling back to the boat by car. can you guess?. The car was another Vauxhall, it was left hand drive and was driven by another Canadian submariner and yes we crashed into another lorry. I must have been better prepared this time for I escaped with minor cuts and bruises. Nevertheless my confidence in Canadian drivers would take many years to return, and I avoided all and any make of Vauxhall. Now my story is finished, and you were a real Angel to be so patience. Thanks

God Bless and keep reading bubblecar

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
This entry was posted in family, HM Submarines, vehicles, veterans. Bookmark the permalink.

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