Cecil Beaton sets out for India in late 1943 to work for the Ministry of Information – from Chapter 11…


The departure from a cold, bleak Paddington station was inauspicious and Beaton was glad to stop en route at Lord Berners’ exotic country house near Farringdon in Wiltshire.  The next day he flew on to Land’s End where he was obliged to settle for a frustrating wait, only brightened by the dazzling good looks of the Canadian pilot who was to fly them south.  Eventually the Dakota was cleared for take-off but crashed almost immediately, a tongue of flame licking through the cabin before the whole aircraft became swathed in a dense cloud of thick orange smoke.  With an explosion likely, it was necessary to get out of the aircraft as soon as possible and Cecil found himself by the open door,  observing others on board jumping out into the darkness.  It was clearly better than burning to death, but there was no knowing how far he might fall….

What happened next?  Find out in my book Posted in Wartime’ (Pen & Sword).