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Richard Swale

A new book by a one-time World War fighter pilot, Richard Swale, has just been published under the imprint of Diadem Books, titled Watch the wall, My Darling. The book is not about the World War or about flying fighter aircraft, however—but about smuggling! As Michael Williams says in a recent review of the book (in the Cornwall Guardian Country) puts it: ‘Richard is…the author of a book called Watch The Wall, My Darling, a tale based loosely on his great, great, great grandfathers, John Andrew and James Law, two smugglers who worked the North Yorkshire coast. …A fascinating cocktail of fact and fiction, it is a page-turner about men and their loyal women who survived as “Free Traders,” a theme striking an affinity with many Cornish readers—in tune with smuggling stories around the jagged coastline of Guardian Country.’ 

The Guardian Country reviewer goes on to discuss in some detail the wartime experiences of our author, who flew against the Germans in Italy and Greece, flying Beaufighters. (On the ground these Beaufighters, Richard says, ‘looked ominous and rather unwieldy.’) The reviewer opens his account of his visit to Richard by giving his impression of the author: ‘Some people have the whiff of an earlier time. Richard Swale is such a character. He may be 87 but, in your mind’s eye, you can see him in his smart RAF officer’s uniform. All these years on, there is still a hint of fighter aircraft and echoes of Winston Churchill’s inspiring broadcasts.’

In Michael Williams' review Richard Swale records an experience that seems significant and worth repeating, suggesting, as it does, an awareness of something beyond our material world* that responds to prayer—especially to prayer released in monuments of dire urgency. In itself it is a wonderful testimony of divine love. Here it is:

“Thinking paranormal, I did have a strange experience flying in Italy. I had been chasing an enemy aircraft at night and had an engine failure which put me in big trouble, and likely to crash. I was unashamedly praying as I have never prayed before or since.

“As I approached to land I was distracted by a great shining figure over to my left. Not comforting, in fact looking stern and rather forbidding. I carried on, coming in fast and unable to stop, so I pulled the wheels up. The starboard engine came adrift and must have gone over my head because I ran into it in the dark as I escaped from the wreckage that was in danger of burning.

“My navigator and I got out, but I have been left with the vision of this God-like figure and its significance. More and more I have come to believe it was to tell me I shouldn’t have taken off in the first place, as my intention had been to kill my fellow man. At the time I don’t remember being concerned, other than it had been an alarming experience. I don’t know what you can make of that. It seems to baffle everybody I have spoken to about it—not surprising really, I suppose.”

Richard Swale has another book up his sleeve, The Malvinas Affair, which Diadem Books looks forward to bringing out in due course. This is not a book about smuggling, or about fighter pilots. Nevertheless, it is a page-turner, too—this time about the Falkland War and a nuclear threat to Britain, and involves MI6 that conjures up shades of the shrewd conniving of Ian Fleming’s hero!

In the meantime, Diadem Books is pleased to have received, from the author, an invaluable account of his wartime experiences in Italy, titled Life on a Wartime Airfield in Italy. It is too short to bring out as a book, but so invaluable as a contribution to history, that we have deemed it important enough to make available here. To read this account, CLICK HERE.

*[When I suggested this might be evidence of a 'higher power', Richard explained that it was not necessarily so, though clearly a manifestation of the paranormal. He added the following illuminating information, and which is worth recording! CHM -

There is just one thing - it may seem grossly lacking in gratitude but it doesn't seem to have done anything to confirm a belief in God. There are all sorts of possibilities to account for my vision that night. The strongest of
which is that it was due to stress. There is a good deal to do with the story of the happenings that night which are not mentioned in the account. The aircraft I changed to turned out to be the worst aircraft on the squadron; a fuel warning light came on at 14'000' (it hadn't been refuelled but, fortunately, there was enough in the reserve tanks
for me to keep going); at 16.000' the Yank searchlights pick me up instead of the Hun!; then , at 17.000' the pitch stops went and I had to call it off. I have come to think that there may have been someone in the German aircraft I was chasing who was rather special and worth saving. After all , three of our aircraft failed to get to him !
Also, a few months later I had another crash when a tyre burst at point of take off; the undercart collapsed causing the prop to hit the ground and ripped the engine out of its mountings. It reared up, and we were
sliding underneath when the other leg collapsed causing us to swing away from the descending lump of metal. This time it was in broad daylight and happened so quickly I didn't have time for a prayer. What I did do was as I sat on the end of the runway waiting to go I remember thinking that the premonition I had had from when I first came to Greece that something unpleasant was going to happen to me must have been wrong! Another few seconds and I would have been off the ground and it would have been. Plays hell with your nerves.]