A Mother’s Perspective – “Nor the Years Condemn” by Justin Sheedy
Christmas Eve 1940.
Daniel Quinn guided the MG through the golden Killara afternoon, and pulled into the familiar avenue. He was going home – three whole days’ Christmas Leave. Still a month to go of the course, he’d been doing well, evidently; the Wing Commander had confirmed it at Quinn’s first Review Board…
Well. We’re not scrubbing you yet, anyway.
Quinn had grinned on his way out of that room. Though only for a moment – He knew the critical decision would be handed down at the very end of the course: ‘Categorisation’. There his Air Crew Selection Board would inform him whether he’d be going on to Elementary Flying Training School, as a Pilot, to Air Observers School, for Navigators, or to Wireless Air Gunners School, which didn’t bear thinking about. They’d all heard the rumours: blokes already with their own civil pilot’s licenses being summarily herded off to Air Gunners. And even if they weren’t scrubbed there, they’d only ever have one Wing on their chests.
Quinn wanted two.
Still, despite the uncertainties that hovered, he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he wrenched the handbrake on the old gravel driveway: Not quite the form for a young man in Royal Australian Air Force Number 1 Service Dress. The first time he’d worn it outside inspection parade, ‘Best Blues’ was a dark blue belted gabardine suit, its four black buttons done up at all times over sky blue collared shirt and black tie. Integral to this uniform was a matching ‘forage’ cap – the shape of a large opened wallet and worn at a slight angle, a white strip on its front, called a flash, signified Quinn’s ‘training’ status.
As Quinn gathered the Christmas presents he’d brought from the passenger seat, down the steps from the front door squealed his sisters, Kathleen, twelve, little Angie, five, Matt closely behind them.
Up at the front door, Therese Quinn was looking down at all her children. She would be strong, she said to herself. This was to be a happy day for them. Climbing the steps to hug her was a young man in darkest blue. Such a handsome boy. And so very smart, so manly in uniform. On each of his shoulders it said AUSTRALIA in white lettering, his arms now around her.
She held him tightly, as tightly as when he’d been a little boy. But she knew it.
She had lost her Danny.
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To read a classic Spitfire excerpt from Nor the Years Condemn, CLICK HERE.