Mistaken Identity

Filename: John_R_Gardner_-_Constable_Snooks_v2.mp3 ( download )

Size: 1.1 MB

Recording type: audio/mpeg

Group Captain John Rush Gardner in Uniform2 minutes, 38 seconds (click "audio mp3" above to listen)

During the Second World War and early in his military career John Rushton Gard'ner recalls a plane crashing near where he was staying. What happened next raised and then dashed the hopes of local Constable PC Snooks. Play the audio file to hear this account.


The following transcript  of this account is kindly provided by Kim Megson.


File ID:                        John_R_Gardner_-_Constable_Snooks_v2

Interviewer:              Jim Walsh (JW)                       

Interviewee:             John Gard’ner (JG)

Date Recorded:       04 February 2006   

Duration:                   2 min 38sec

Date Typed:              05 September 2012  


JG:        PC Snooks was a little incident ... a funny little incident that happened in my earlier part of my wartime career.  Actually I was staying at a little village called Farnley Tyas near Huddersfield in Yorkshire, and I was asleep when an aircraft came across flying very low, obviously in distress, from the noise it was making, and immediately afterwards there was a huge great bang and I knew that this aircraft had crashed. 

I leapt out of bed and put my great coat on, put shoes ... and I rushed out, and I could see some flames down the road a bit so I ran down the road and saw what was a huge fire with explosions, presumably ammunition and stuff exploding, and I realised that it was just a ball of fire and I thought, well, there was nothing that I can do, so I turned round and started trudging back up the hill.  As I was coming up this hill, down the road came our local constable on his bicycle in his uniform with his British helmet.  So he went by me, he looked at me, and I saw that he was wondering, but he continued on down and I trudged off home and went back and told them what it was and that there was nothing that I could do, so we decided we should get back to bed. 

Well, that was all right, but the following morning, quite early there was a knock on the door and there was a civilian at the door, and he introduced himself as Inspector so-and-so from such-and-such police, but he says, “I understand you have an airman here from the aircraft that crashed last night.”  And I looked at him and I said, “Sorry, no.  I was down there and I came back up here and I saw the Constable ... Snooks going down the road, but ...” I said, “I certainly didn’t come from that aeroplane.”  And I looked at Constable Snooks and I saw his face drop, and the Inspector man turned round to him and he said, “Well, Snooks, looks as if we’ve made a mistake here”, and they went away.  And I thought, well, poor Constable Snooks.  He’d been in that village all his life, village policeman, and this was going to be his big day of reporting something as interesting that has happened in his life, and this was how it finished for him.

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