No one believed him – Joyce Janes

The truth

On 19th August 1941 a Westland Lysander Mk.111A crashed on Featherbed Moss.

The aircraft was on an anti-aircraft co-operation exercise from Ringway (Manchester) to Rhyl in North Wales.

The aircraft’s gyro-compass was not functioning correctly causing the pilot to fly at almost 180o to his intended route.

On impact the aircraft turned over trapping crew members, Pilot Officer Fred Hoddinott and Leading Aircraftman Allan Masheder Chadwick who were seriously injured.

The aircraft was located on the 20th August and both crew rescued though Allan. Chadwick died of his injuries just three days later.

The fiction

George wandered over the moor.  How he had got separated from the rest of the school party was a mystery to him.  Perhaps he had fallen asleep and they hadn’t noticed that he wasn’t with them.  Perhaps they had left him on purpose, no, Theo was his best friend he wouldn’t leave without him.

The last thing he could remember was looking over Kinder Downfall at the water blowing upward, a phenomenon seen by only a privileged few.  That’s what his dad said anyway and now George had seen it for himself.

Mr Woodley was in raptures about it.  He had told them Kinder Downfall was the highest waterfall in the Peak District.  Often just a trickle in summer after rain it becomes more impressive.  Mr Woodley had been up there in winter and seen the waterfall completely frozen, a mass of icy sculptures but he had never seen this.  Water flowing right over the edge of the rock then being blown directly into the air and back up the hill, it truly was an amazing sight.

His classmates had been chasing around as he sat looking at the views.  George was tired but surely even if he had slept he would have heard them as they gathered to move off.

He wouldn’t worry about it now the sun had just clouded over but he was enjoying himself.  He decided to continue in the same direction they had been walking before they arrived at the downfall and there was a clear path in front of him.  This was part of the famous Pennine Way and he wondered if maybe one day he would do the whole walk.  He thought it was about 250 miles it sounded a lot, to far for him perhaps.

He walked quite a long way for an hour or so and still there was no sign of anyone, not even other walkers.

Without the sun the temperature had dropped.  He stopped to get a jumper from his rucksack.  George was nine years old he didn’t have a compass and although he studied the map he brought with him he didn’t have a clue where he was on this featureless moor.

A thin mist was blowing across the moor and he was beginning to get worried when a figure appeared in the distance.

Thank goodness, George thought, a hiker he will know the way.  He smiled as the man approached.

Tall and slim wearing uniform of slate blue George could see badges on the shoulders and realised that the stranger was in the RAF.

Relieved not to be alone any more he grinned as the man spoke.

‘Hello young man, what are you doing here all alone on Featherbed Moss?’

The voice was rich and low the accent slightly different to his own, George knew for sure he wasn’t from Sheffield.

He burst out ‘I have been separated from my class, we are staying in Edale Youth Hostel and we were just at Kinder Downfall and I must have fallen asleep and they can’t have realised I wasn’t with them and then they were gone and I was all alone.’  George didn’t take a breath until he had told this man everything.

‘Don’t worry.  My name’s Allan, Allan M Chadwick we’ll get you back to them in no time.’

These reassuring words calmed George and for the first time since he lost the others, he relaxed.  Allan wasn’t carrying any supplies or equipment of any sort but George wasn’t going to worry about that, here was an adult who would get them back to safety.

As they walked the airman asked about his life.  Did he like school? What sports did he play?  What sort of things did he like doing?

George answered, chatting happily to this stranger who had appeared across the moor.

Eventually he stopped and said, ‘Allan can I ask you something.’

‘Of course,’ the man smiled.

‘What are you doing on the moor?’

‘I am a Leading Aircraftman.   A M Chadwick, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves at your service.’

‘What planes do you fly, Tornados or Hurricanes?’

‘No, I’ve not heard of those,’ Allan replied ‘I’m in a Westland Lysander.  Wireless operator crucial I am, they would never get anywhere without us wireless operators.’

‘Wow that’s brilliant.  Have you been in a war?’

The man looked at George and hesitated for a while, ‘sort of but I’m only 22 give me chance,’ he laughed.

At that moment there was a shout


He looked and saw Mr Woodley in the distance with a group of others.

It was clear they had been looking for him.

George turned back to Allan, ‘they found us we’ll be ok now.  Come on I’ll introduce you to my school mates, I bet they’ll have loads of questions to ask.’ He set off running then turned back to call his friend to tell him to hurry up but there was no one there.  Allan had gone.

George stopped.  Where had he gone he was there a moment ago?

Mr Woodley came toward him, ‘George where on earth have you been we’ve been worried sick.’

A Park Ranger was speaking into a radio ‘it’s ok the boy has been located on Featherbed Moss, he’s safe.’

George told his teacher what had happened, how he had been wandering unsure of his location when the aircraftman had appeared.  The Ranger stood quietly watching, listening as the boy told his story.

It was obvious to George no one believed him but he knew what he had seen.  He was the only one who believed in the existence of the RAF man on the moor.

He didn’t care what they all said he would always remember Allan M Chadwick, the stranger, who helped him find his way down from Featherbed Moss.

Joyce Janes writed for children


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