Great stories by all these days. It's a real treat to come here every day and be entertained like this. Fullofit, I loved seeing Toby and Fullard connect. What will they be up to next?

Collins is fighting to get back in the fight.

An Airman’s Odyssey – by Capt James Arthur Collins, VC, MC

Part Sixty-Four: In which I am to be rusticated

I was back in North Weald Bassett by ten that night. The Huns did not come, but the rains did. The wind picked up and the moon clouded over and I got an early night’s rest although I laid awake for a couple of hours thinking of absconding with the lovely Alex Anderson for a filthy weekend. Cornwall? The Lakes? Much too far away. There was no need to spend precious hours on a train. The Cotswolds? Hadn’t been there yet. Perhaps the Cotswolds.

It rained all the next day, but there was no chance for a late lie-in. I was called into the city to meet once again with General Brancker. The meeting was brief and upsetting. He informed me that I was to be posted in the near future to a staff job dealing with pilot training. I protested and begged to be sent back to France. He bluntly refused, saying that a VC was more valuable on the home front. He also insinuated that the Canadian War Records Office – Aitken’s little hobby – wanted me close at hand for “morale-building” purposes and were agitating to send me on a tour of Canada to promote recruitment. So that was it, old boy. You serve on the Army’s terms, you know. The General could talk.

I wandered out of the Cecil and along the Strand to Bow Street, soaked to the skin. I asked a policeman for directions to Bloomsbury Square. It was the landmark I remembered, and from there I followed my nose to New North Street and Alex’s flat. The landlady looked at me with a distrustful eye. Alex was not home, she said, and closed the door in my face. I found a tearoom not too far away and begged the hostess for a scrap of paper. I wrote a note:


Have just learned they want to keep me away from France as a prize cow to show off to Aitken and his people. Bloody infuriating. I wanted neither a staff job nor a training posting. They plan to give me a staff job to do with training! Must find a way out of this. Telephone me if you are able to. Would love to see you sooner than Friday.


I wrote the telephone exchange and number for the station office at North Weald. Then it was back to Alex’s, where I slipped the folded note into the letterbox. My motor was back at Charing Cross Station...

The uniform was just beginning to dry when I brought the Vauxhall to a stop outside the sentry post off Epping Road in North Weald.

“You’re back early, sir,” the sentry shouted from the door of the guard house. “Sergeant Bradley told me to let you know there was a call for you about fifteen minutes ago. The officers have gone to the Kings Head for lunch, sir.”

I pulled the car across to the station office and dashed inside. Sergeant Bradley was the duty NCO. He passed me a yellow slip of paper. It read: “Call from a Miss Anderson 11:55 a.m. – ‘I have a plan. Cannot meet before Friday. Trust me.” There was no return telephone number.