Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Pilot's Watch


A few days after getting back to Daedalus, my demob number came up and I was released from the navy. While handing in my flying clothing, I mentioned to the petty officer storekeeper that though I didn’t mind handing over my flying boots, helmet and goggles, I was quite sad to have to say goodbye to my pilot’s watch. He commiserated with me—at length. And with deep sympathy. He shook his head sadly as he told me that all they did with returned watches was to hammer them to pieces, remove the jewels, and throw the rest away. It was a crime, he said. But, he shrugged his shoulders and said I just had to hand it over as it had a special number engraved on the back. However, he brightened upon suddenly remembering an afterthought. He speculated that maybe, for a very modest consideration, he could perhaps oblige me with a brand new watch that might still be around somewhere. It was one of the very latest, he said. If he could find it. He poked around under his counter. Successfully. I had to concur with him on how fortunate and serendipitous an event it was. And I agreed that it was a very nice watch. The best.
It still ticks merrily away sixty five years later.

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