By John Weirzbolowicz (Site 9 Eng O/H)
Transcribed from “BAD News – Journal of the BAD 2 Association” Vol. 1, No. 3, June 1978
During the “good old days” at the Warton airplane camp and amusing incident occurred against the backdrop of the post retreat formation sprint for the G.I. Trucks that taxied the troops to Lytham. If you wanted a night out in either Lytham or Blackpool, you just had to get on board one of those 6 x 6’s that served as the only means of transportation between the base and the L.M.S. railroad station. The competition was often spirited and at times it bordered on being heated. Needless to say, once retreat was over, the dash to the trucks often provided a view that was, to put it more politely than we did then; “All back-sides and elbows”, for speed could mean the difference between a night on the town and a night on the bunk.
In section 2, Sqdn. A. there was a rather lean, lanky adjutant and a first Sgt. Who, although a little older than most of us, was quite proud of his physical prowess. On one occasion the Sgt, and the adjutant were in a dead heat at the tail gate of the last truck of the evening. A heated discussion ensued between the two as to who had arrived first and thus was to be the last body allowed on the truck. As is usual among G.I.’s, those already on board were impatient to move out and one of them shouted, “Aw why don’t you guys have a run-off?” This seemed fair and so it was tacitly agreed to do just that, although no time of place was decided upon at that time.
Quite unexpectedly one morning at roll call an announcement was made that the top kick had challenged the adjutant to a race that morning. Once and for all it was to be decided who was the fastest short distance runner on Site 9. This declaration made some of the shivering G.I.’s forget their growling stomachs as they looked forward to the promised run-off. Their taste for action seemed to assuage their hunger and consciousness of the damp cold of the Lancashire morning.
The rules were simple. A G.I. truck was drawn up at the gate in the same position that it took at retreat time in the evening. Because the area was oval in shape it was to be once around the “track” and then head for the tail gate and the flush of victory.
The contestants excused themselves for a few minutes to prepare for the event. I, in the meantime stood shivering with the rest of the formation, as we had not yet been dismissed. As we stood “at-ease”, the two Olympians arrived ready and eager for the challenge. A snicker rippled through the ranks and swelled as its contagion caught on at the sight of the sprinters in their “track suits”. The Lt. was clad in O.D. long johns, silver pars pinned jauntily on his masculine shoulders and wearing combat boots for track shoes. The Sgt. was attired in tennis shoes, O.D. dress pants and the top from a pair of long johns. The Sgt. exuded confidence as he raved and ranted about the lack of completion.
Someone acted as a starter and the “gun” went off. The truck driver, alerted by the start, stood by to lower the tail gate. Both men, feeling conviction, started off slowly as if to indicate their supreme self-assurance. They picked up speed as the cool morning air provided increased incentive. The Lt. pulled out front, for rank doth have privilege. However, the Sgt. took note and disregarded such formalities by pulling abreast of the officer. With only 50 yards to go, they were on the downhill leg and “heading for the barn”. The driver lowered the tail gate and mounted to the seat of his charge.
Just as the runners arrived at the rear of the truck, the driver shifted into low and began driving out of the gate. If he ever stopped I do not know, but the last time I saw the self-styled athletes they were in hot pursuit and shouting obscenities at the Lytham-bound GMC.
As they passed through the gate and down the Lytham road, the formation decided that it was, after all, cold and hungry out that morning. So without waiting for dismissal they slipped off to the mess hall and a much delayed morning meal. Who the winner of that Spring, 1944 Olympics was we shall never know unless someone out there has the “late race results”.