Saturday, 2 February 2008
The Red Devils Free Fall Team
Stories submitted from Bobby Jarrett
Well this one is about Charlie Gowens the first Cutaway Jumper on the team.
I wasn’t on this demo but Charlie dropped short of the DZ and landed in the show car park. He was wearing two orange smoke bombs one for free fall and the other for under canopy so one was still burning when he went through the cloth sunroof of a car! He had difficulty in extracting himself from the car resulting in the upholstery taking on a new colour, bright orange!
Obviously once free from the motor he legged as fast as his feet could carry him!
A comment from Charlie Gowens The Cutaway Man
You missed out the best part of the tale. That is we contacted the owner of the car and explained that we were fully insured and that if he had the car repaired it would be met in full.
"Oh no!" he said. I want to show every one that I had a Red Devil land in my car. No way was he going to have it repaired. He claimed it would be a status symbol amongst his mates. Well it takes all sorts. (o:
Sadly Peter (Charlie) Gowens has since passed away in June 2007.
We were on another demo a KAPE show (keep the army in the public eye) and jumped into what was in those days was consider a tight dz, a football ground with stands all around, remember we only had Para Commanders in those days.
Anyway Georgie Fettes a diminutive Jock from Glasgow, about 8 stone in weight, was dropping short and decided to hook into what he thought was open ground! Lo and behold! an army Bedford RL 4 tonner got in his way!
Georgie went through the windscreen on the drivers side, on the way through he snapped the steering wheel off with his feet, kicked the drivers seat of it`s mount which went sideways and smashed open the door and landed on the ground alongside the truck. Needless to say when we got there poor Georgie was inside the cab unconscious with his Para Commander inflated in the breeze holding him up in sitting position!
Added to this there was a distinct u shape in the roof above the window made by his chest mounted reserve. Lucky for Georgie he only suffered a cut lip and a few bruises (hard to believe, but true) we extracted him from the cab and got him to the medical tent for treatment, we couldn’t stop giggling.
The doc, an RAMC type was trying to administer an anesthetic jab to Gerogies lip so he could stitch it back together, Georgie was telling him to F off and he dinna want a jab cos he was a FNG hard Para!" The truck had to be recovered by the REME.
We were in Leicester doing a KAPE (keep the army in the public eye) show.
It was probably one of my first demos and to me Bill Scarratt was an Icon, being at that time the national champion, anyway being Jumpmaster that day he spotted my pass and maybe Dave Whitney was on the same pass can´t be sure though. What happened next Bill put us out really short and I overshot the DZ remember it was the days of the Para Commander so forward airspeed was in short supply, no going upwind! (Barnstorming days!) Net result I came down through some trees that were overhanging a main road!
I landed between 2 cars in a queue of traffic it now being rush hour, lucky for me at that time the traffic was stationary. I was suddenly surrounded by reporters all clamouring for an explanation which I gave, at the end of it all they asked my name! I said I was C/sgt Billy Scarratt National Skydiving Champion, well, Scarratt isn't too far removed from the name Jarrett is it?.
The resulting headline was....'National Skydiving Champion C/Sgt Billy Scarratt Causes Rush Hour Chaos!' Lucky for me Bill has a great sense of humour and enjoys a laugh and saw the funny side of it all. To me Bill will always be an Icon a great guy and a character.
About 1967-68 I think without looking at my log books, we took part in a competition in Pudsey, that is Joe Greig, Kiwi Samson and myself.
The entry fee was something like 12 quid per 3 man team and involved an accuracy jump from 2500-3000ft. Various teams from the Brigade and other units were there to take part also.
The idea was there were 3 different coloured balloons pegged out in the arms of a cross made out of air panels and these had to be burst either by a DC (dead centre) or by hand or any other part of the body.
On the appointed day it was blowing a gale with low scudding cloud and rain, you name it we had it. Needless to say we retired to the pub. About an hour and half into drinking time (orange juice of course (o;), the door burst open, sunlight flooded into the pub followed by one of the judges breathlessly announcing "It’s on!" we were all over the moon as money was involved! No backing out, we took off, I was jumpmaster, out we went, I burst a balloon with a DC, Kiwi slid in next to his and burst it with his fist, Joe landed about 5 meters away ran and stamped his out! We won the competition on the least amount of time for bursting the balloons! Problem!
Charlie Shea Simmonds, the competition organizer would not pay up! About 75-100 quid was involved. However the money went to a good cause that night it went into the kitty for beer for the teams involved! Nice one Charlie!
He was adjutant of 4 Para at the time.
Bobby now lives and works out in Spain as a Skiing/Snowboard instructor……………and he’s supposed to have retired!