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By Christobel Mattingley

David's boyhood desires of flying led him to England for months of teaching to be a bomber pilot in international battle II at age 19, yet his ultimate flight used to be a nightmare. Seconds after the bombs have been published, David was once wounded in 5 areas and his fellow pilot puppy was once hit. Flying steel slashed his correct knee, thigh, and shoulder; the tendons and artery in his correct hand have been severed; and shrapnel ripped via his thick leather-based helmet, fracturing his cranium as his airplane went right into a dive. This riveting real tale takes youngsters during the occasions of a tender WWII pilot’s heroic trip and his braveness and patience within the face of terrifying conditions.

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All the young men in Air Force blue, already so far from home, burst into laughter. Umgeni was delayed for almost four weeks in three ports because waterside workers refused to handle frozen lamb in wet conditions. ’ the airmen joked. But it gave them plenty of opportunities to enjoy renowned Kiwi hospitality and to explore. Eager to experience Maori culture, arriving at Waitara, a traditional village and ancient pa, on the occasion of a great gathering, David was moved that the Australians were welcomed as guests of honour, greeted in the languages of the elders.

Almost eight weeks after leaving Adelaide, Umgeni reached Balboa, the Panama Canal’s Pacific entrance. During the fifty mile, day-long passage David marvelled at the system of locks and lakes, an amazing feat of engineering which had cost so many lives. Reaching Colon on the old Spanish Main, they were eager for their first taste of a really foreign port. A night out in the brightly lit old town was different from anything they had known, with its lively Latin atmosphere of night clubs, Spanish dancing and music, its cosmopolitan crowds, horse-drawn cabs, narrow streets lined with Spanish-style houses, and open taverns and shops.

David wrote home, Among its army of maintenance personnel, one man’s full-time job was to pick up chewing gum! Shopping in well-stocked department stores for items unobtainable in beleaguered Britain, most men bought silk stockings, but David also bought swimming trunks and a silver propelling pencil. And mindful he might find himself shot down over France, a second-hand copy of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Three Musketeers, to brush up his French. A home visit on leafy Long Island provided a welcome break, and a chance to reconnect with the earth and green and growing things.

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