As a sequal to the Flight Sergeant’s earlier graphic narrative covering his experiences during 15082 GCI’s D-day landing on Omaha Beach, the following entry is from the journal he wrote just a few months later, when given responsibility for a ground Radar station on the southernmost tip of the Shetland Islands. This is the penultimate chapter of a large tome he wrote for his grandchildren 45 years later. I will include his end chapter in a later post … BURNING OUT It is 1945 and I am located in one of the farthest out of the so-called “Out Stations.” My office is built on Sumburgh Head overlooking the North Sea and a few scattered islands to the east and, bare hillsides on the west. To the south, the sea pounds against abrupt cliffs that have withstood the gale driven winds for hundreds of years. To the north, at the foot of the hill upon which the station has been built, lies a small airport and a cluster of buildings which collectively is known as Grutness. Usually there are fishing boats on the water and always sheep on the hills. A pastoral scene, you say, and I agree. A quiet scene? Yes. Too quiet. The last few years have accustomed me to flurry, noise, unserviceable equipment, even chaos, and I have thrived on it. Now the quiet seems uncanny, unnatural somehow, and I don’t like it. Several times recently I have caught myself pacing up and down. Pacing? Me? There have been occasions when I would have sold all I own for a bit of peace and quiet. And now, with unlimited quiet, a sort of smothering, all encompassing blanket envelopes me like a pea soup fog. I am balanced on the edge of a knife. I find it almost impossible to sit down for more than a minute at a time. There is no such thing as relaxation. I start a book and throw it into a corner after the first three or four pages. I stare out the window and tell myself that I should be enjoying all this - the fishing boats moving to and fro searching for the illusive catch, the sheep huddled together like floating cumulus clouds, grazing on the brown slopes. These are the things from which great paintings are made but to me they are a distraction. “Damn those boats! Why don’t they stop bustling about?” “Damn those sheep! Why do they have to keep wandering around? Why don’t they stay put for a change? And always baa-ing. I can hear them from here.” Yes, something is wrong. If the sheep or boats stopped moving I would be cursing them for their inactivity. Everything in this old world is going backwards. Perhaps I have been charging along, wide open, much too long and much too fast. Why can’t I see the beauty in all of this. The windswept hills, the whitecaps on the sea, the soaring gulls, the browsing sheep, the smoke drifting from chimneys in the valley far below. It’s all there. I can see it, but I can’t feel it. I am having difficulty identifying the pros and cons of a given problem. I don’t want to make decisions. All too often I am taking the easy way out by scratching my signature at the bottom of some order or signal without knowing what it is all about. The Orderly Room clerk told me that everybody was entitled to leave. I couldn’t be bothered checking. I sent fifty percent of the establishment home for ten days and when they got back, I sent the rest. A Squadron Leader at Wing H.Q. in Inverness called me on a radio link and said, “I say, Old Chap, your people seem to be getting a lot of leave.” He left it at that. What I need is a job. A simple job. A straight forward job. Something I can get my hands on. Something that requires physical activity. Something that will stop me thinking. Perhaps I’ll build a simple radio. Perhaps I’ll just take a walk. Maybe somewhere along the valley beyond the third row of hills to the north I’ll find a reason for being here. For being alive when so many of my friends no longer are. Over half of my original crew is gone. Was it necessary? I don’t know. All I know is that their children will never know them. They will never bounce babies on their knees. They were of a lost generation. I was a part of it, but am still here. Conundrums. Yes, I am going to take that walk over the hills and up the valley. I may even get as far as Scousburgh before I have to come back.