November 12, 2004


How do you survive a German air attack on an RAF field during World War II? Jeff S. -- known here and elsewhere for his fine comments -- describes his father's method:

Dad was waiting at a British RAF field somewhere on Sicily for a flight back to North Africa. One of the Brits, in a gesture of friendship and goodwill amongst allies against the forces of evil, offered Dad a drink. This was not some local hooch looted from an abandoned home, but a luxury from home hoarded for some time, a bottle of genuine English Scotch.

Even though his stomach could barely accept food, Dad eagerly drank most of the Scotch. Needless to say, he did not stay conscious. He passed out on a cot and spent the night there.

However, the Germans were quite rude, and attacked the air field that night. But Dad never heard a thing. He was not wounded in any way. He slept the blissful sleep of the dead drunk through the whole thing.

Dad told me that when he woke up, he sat up, stretched, and looked around. He knew that there had been fighting because of the battle damage to the aircraft and airfield, and he realized how lucky he had been.

But before reaction set in, another British airman poked his head up out of a trench, and saw Dad scratching himself on the cot, in the open, and clearly just waking up. The Brit realized that Dad had rode out the attack in the open and unscathed. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "You bloody Yank ... !" Dad still laughed at the memory of the man's expression 30 years later.

Jeff’s father died in 1988. Read the entire, completely charming piece; the above extract is internally edited for length.

Posted by Tim Blair at November 12, 2004 11:51 PM

I knew alcohol was good for something.

Posted by: Jorgen at November 12, 2004 at 11:56 PM

My dad flew Beaufighters- 322 out of Borneo. I worked with this champion old bastard called Carso, who went over to England in 1942 with 12th Squadron. Started flying Wellingtons, then moved up to Lancasters when they came on line. We buried the mad old sod in 1988- out of the squadron he went over with(98), 3 of them came back. I have been meaning to write a book about Aussies in Bomber Command; this might stir me along. I also had an uncle on the Kokoka track- all these stories are fresh with me, but I'm not getting any younger. I've even got a mate who flew FW190's on the Eastern Front, and bailed out through Yugoslavia, and wound up flying for the French in Indochina.

Posted by: Habib at November 13, 2004 at 12:25 AM

Scotch isn't English. It's er Scottish.

Posted by: Anne at November 13, 2004 at 12:29 AM

Sorry, Ann, but I didn't inherit Dad's passion for Scotch! Bourbon is my drink of choice, when I actually drink. :-D

Posted by: The Real JeffS at November 13, 2004 at 12:38 AM

There is a theory behind this.

Getting blind drunk makes you invincible. Haven't you ever been pissed as a fart and lept out of a cab door whilst the vehicle is still in motion? Or lept down those friggin cobbled stairs in The Rocks only to wake up the following morning with eighteen stitches in your chin?

Alcohol can turn you into Aquaman as well. Ever lept from a harbour cruise and swum the closing leg back to Circular Quay?

I've proudly done all those things and will probably stage voluntary re-enactments next Friday at Grogblogging 04! Updated Flyer is on it's way Timbo.

Posted by: Darp Hau at November 13, 2004 at 12:42 AM

Darp Im getting rather ambivilent about the Nazis.You have done well son.
Regards Larado.

Posted by: Larado at November 13, 2004 at 02:15 AM

I knew alcohol was good for something.

Alcohol, my boy, is good for everything.

Wasn't there also a guy who survived the Titanic by being boiled?

Posted by: Brian at November 13, 2004 at 02:48 AM

Darp! You need to make those experiments now! Do it in the name of the RealityBased™ Lifestyle!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 13, 2004 at 03:05 AM

The only thing I've ever been able to agree with Tom Brokaw on:
The Greatest Generation.

Posted by: alfadog at November 13, 2004 at 04:49 AM

A wonderfully written tribute, JeffS! Your father not only served his country, he raised a son whose service and political acumen are an everyday tribute to him!

Posted by: charlotte at November 13, 2004 at 05:38 AM

Thank you, charlotte, although Dad would be emabarrassed by your praise. In his place, I am equally embarrassed. :-)

And, tim, I should have thanked you earlier for making my memorial the subject of one your posts. I am most grateful that you did so.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at November 13, 2004 at 08:30 AM

>Alcohol, my boy, is good for everything.

Thanks, Brian, I am taking notes!

Posted by: jorgen at November 14, 2004 at 01:34 AM