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Dropping truth bombs in the pub

Greg Bray, columnist for the Gladstone Observer. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer
Greg Bray, columnist for the Gladstone Observer. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer Brenda Strong GLA170212GREG

FOLKS, the following is a true story. Actually, all my stories are true, but this one happens to be slightly truer than the others ... mostly.

In the late 1970s my grandfather, Charlie, was propping up the bar at the Innisfail RSL when a stranger appeared in the doorway and announced in a heavy German accent, "I am looking for Charles Scott."

Now, Charlie had spent the Second World War in a Lancaster bomber delivering iron all over Germany and Italy, and he was fairly certain that no German had made the effort to visit North Queensland in order to thank him for dropping high explosives all over the fatherland.

Unfortunately, his mate, Stitty, pointed out Charlie and said, "That's him down there mate, behind the peanut display.''

As the man approached, Charlie downed his beer and mentally cursed Stitty.

"You are Charles Scott?"

"Yep, that's me Jock," Charlie replied.

The pub went silent as the stranger reached into his jacket pocket, then breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled out a photo. It was a picture of Charlie's old bomber, in full flight, surrounded by flak and tracer fire.

"Where the hell did you get this?" asked Charlie in astonishment.

The German chap grinned, "This is the last photo my plane's camera took before your gunners shot me down. I was captured by Americans and my life was saved. So, now I travel the world to thank the men in this plane."

Stunned, Charlie bought him a beer and the two old warriors toasted each other. In the spirit of the occasion, even Stitty was forgiven, eventually.

Granddad has since shuffled off to that Great Airfield in the Sky but, every Anzac Day, I think of two boys desperately trying to blow each other out of the sky over Germany, sharing a beer in a pub on the other side of the world nearly 40 years later.

Ironically, years later I would spend an evening in a Munich pub drinking with an old man who had survived countless Allied bombing raids as a boy, but that's another story ... which is also true.

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