by John Crick

How many times does one hear of lucky escapes? The woman in the bus queue fed up with waiting decides to walk, seconds later a lorry ploughs into the queue killing many people. The traveller held up by road works misses his flight by seconds only to witness the plane crashing on take off.

Here is a story of my few seconds. On Wednesday the 6th August 1947 on HMS Theseus, flying was taking place the day after leaving Sydney on our journey to Brisbane. It was the tragic day when "Spiv" Daly was killed. I was badly shaken after witnessing the incident and decided to watch the remainder of the landings from the safety of an aircraft moving tractor situated just forward of the island. The final "Firefly" piloted by Lt John Butterworth was approaching the carrier. We were not supposed to leave the flight deck until dismissed. I was torn between watching the final landing and not wanting to be there. I suddenly remembered that I was duty mess cook that day giving me my excuse to go below. I descended below via the gun sponson and had just arrived in the mess when I heard a terrific bang and saw debris falling past the porthole. I was later informed that Lt Butterworth's plane had missed arrester wires and barriers and crashed just forward of the Island pushing my viewing tractor into the gun sponson. Both aircrew were fortunately rescued.

It was not until later that I realised that this was my lucky day.