Emancipation from the coal business came at last when on a bright fall morning in 1939 I made my way to the recruiting office of the R.C.A.F. As I did so, such was my patriotic fervor, that, like James Thurber's Walter Mitty, I began to weave dreams of martial prowess and, however inappropriate to aerial combat, to see myself in some epic pose standing on a promontory of rock amid the smoke of battle, swathed in blood-stained bandages, clutching a sword in one hand and a flag in the other.
These visions no doubt encouraged me to assume a military stride and an expression suited to my stern and lofty purpose. Entering the recruiting office in this frame of mind, I had half-expected to be greeted with three cheers or some form of commendation for my sacrificial action. In this I was disappointed, for the atmosphere of the premises was completely devoid of emotion.
I was merely told to sit down on one of a row of very hard chairs where I remained for a considerable time apparently unnoticed, much less acclaimed.