able to use the drag lift and ski back down to the village as many times as necessary.
Later, in view of the decreasing snow cover, we transferred to the shadier slopes at
the other side of the valley behind Lermoos. Our last ski run was down-hill for over
a mile and was completed successfully, and without mishap, by all. What a thrill it
was to glide down this long steady slope on my own feet at thirty miles an hour!
The evenings were filled with survival instruction from both our own
instructors and invited Austrian specialists. We were even visited by someone from
the Secret Service who advised us on methods to use to evade capture in potentially
enemy territory. We never knew his name, and he disappeared off, on foot, into the
night when he had finished his talk.
The first week over, there was a party on the Saturday night. Beer was fetched from the village by a group of students, one of whom didn't return. The party went
well, and late. Three American Officers joined us, one a female. When the singing got
going, 'The Happy Wanderer', as sung by the Obenkirchen childrens' choir, being
the favourite at the time, we became, after suitable lubrication of the vocal chords,
quite good at the falsetto bits. Yodelling was attempted with much hilarity, but was
judged to be a failure. The American female did her bit but her absolutely flat and
tuneless voice was described by someone as being that of a constipated duck - out of
her hearing, of course.
The missing student walked sheepishly and slowly back from the village on the Sunday morning. He had found a willing Fraülein and had spent a randy night with
The emphasis during the second week was on evasion and survival. We had
been taught how to make traps, set snares, build an igloo, build a fire on deep snow,
build a shelter to protect ourselves from the elements, how to keep warm, make
snow shoes - all from what we could find - and minor first aid. Now it was our turn
to put these skills into practice. On the Sunday evening one of the village elders came
to brief us on what to do if things went wrong, such as a broken limb, or similar.
Accordingly, we were issued with whistles and told the whistle codes to use to
summon help; codes which everyone in the area would recognise as coming from
someone in distress. Search parties would then be sent out. We were then told to
pair up with someone we hadn't known before coming on the course. Flt.Lt. John
Lovell and I teamed up, were given a local map and were told where to make for
across country from the place where we would be dropped next morning. There
would be people looking for us, and we had to avoid them.
As expected, the following day, with pieces of aluminium, an empty can each, a block of chocolate, a small amount of hard-tack rations, two tins of food for use only
in an absolute emergency, and some parachute panels and cord - all to simulate what
we might rescue from a downed aircraft - together with our dinghy knives, a small
machete and a sleeping bag each (the only 'home' comfort allowed), we lined up to
board the bus. We were ordered not to team up with another pair until we reached
our briefed final destination area, at which place we would be contacted at the end of
the exercise and told to return to the Gasthaus.
John and I were dropped a good four miles from our final rendezvous point
and were told to start making our way to it from within the edge of the forest up a
long and steep grassy slope. Our route would take us across several ravines, then
down to cross a main road and railway line, before climbing again over a bluff to the
finish. We had three days and nights in which to do this.
We climbed up the open, partly snow-covered, alpine pasture and on into the
forest for our start. At this height there was lot of patchy snow, some of it very
deep, but in the trees there were clear areas as well. Because of the nature of the
terrain we decided it was too dangerous to move far after dark so, from our starting point we