A Question About Cars

3: The French Drop(Feb '41);Enemy Fire(Feb '41);They Fought In the Fields(April '41); War of Nerves(June '41)

2: Fifty Ships (Sept '40); Among the Few (Sept '40); War Games (Oct '40); The Funk Hole (Oct '40)

1: The German Woman(May '40);The White Feather(May '40);A Lesson in Murder(June '40);Eagle Day(Aug '40)

A Question About Cars

Postby annebronterocks » Fri May 29, 2015 3:15 pm

In "The White Feather," Jane tells Paul that they need to leave for the National Prayer Service early because, "It's not as if you can drive." :-x

Now, apart from being a horrible thing to say, is that supposed to imply that they owned a car before the war? I have no trouble believing that Paul used to be able to drive a car, but I'm a bit skeptical that he would have owned one. And, in any case, with petrol rationing, I imagine most people who did own a car wouldn't use it for such an occasion.

Thoughts? :puzzled:
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby starlight » Fri May 29, 2015 3:46 pm

It's possible that, as a DS he would've had the use of a car, even if he didn't own one. Perhaps he drove his previous boss?
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby annebronterocks » Fri May 29, 2015 3:57 pm

That sounds plausible. Thanks!
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby hazeleyes57 » Fri May 29, 2015 4:41 pm

Douglas Bader drove even after he lost both legs - he was out and about in his sports car with the stick legs before he was issued with the false 'tin' legs.

Having said that, attitudes to driving were a little bit more lax in the 30's. My husband's father walked up to the local garage in Felixstowe, bought a car, the salesman gave him a quick chat about how to use the three pedals, and then he drove back home in his new car. No test, no nuttin' :rofl:
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby starlight » Fri May 29, 2015 6:28 pm

hazeleyes57 wrote:Douglas Bader drove even after he lost both legs - he was out and about in his sports car with the stick legs before he was issued with the false 'tin' legs.

Having said that, attitudes to driving were a little bit more lax in the 30's. My husband's father walked up to the local garage in Felixstowe, bought a car, the salesman gave him a quick chat about how to use the three pedals, and then he drove back home in his new car. No test, no nuttin' :rofl:

My dad learned on a milk van when he was 15. Also no licence. The first actual licence he got was when he left the army after WW2, by which time they assessed him worthy of an HGV licence as well. Probably something to do with driving an armoured car through the desert :rofl:
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby annebronterocks » Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:01 am

A follow-up question: in Great Britain, where you drive on the left side of the road, is the left leg the one that does all the work (gas pedal and brakes) in a car?
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby starlight » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:01 pm

Right foot is brake and accelerator. Left foot is clutch. You'd be pretty stuffed without it in a car with manual gears. Sometimes the gear lever was on the steering column in those days, but the clutch was still a pedal.
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby annebronterocks » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:15 pm

Thanks for the info!
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby Lynette » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:34 am

I don't think the Milners could have afforded a car of their own on a police sergeant's (or army corporal's) salary, so I doubt they owned one. I think Horowitz threw that line in about "It's not as though you can drive" to point up that Milner's disability made him "useless", both in his wife's view and possibly in his own.

But I think Milner would have been taught to drive as part of his police training and as a detective sergeant (the position he held before the war in Brighton, according to The German Woman) he'd probably been expected to drive his inspector around.

I do think that Milner could have gotten back behind the wheel eventually, even with a prosthetic leg, as Hazeleyes said above, but at this stage the injury to his left leg was probably not healed enough to make such a thing possible. In fact, the story of Milner's injury is one place where Horowitz really fudged the reality of the time required to recover from an injury like that. The Trondheim campaign happened in mid-April 1940; in TGW, set in May, we see Milner in hospital in Hastings, obviously still healing. Then in The White Feather, which shows the Dunkirk evacuation (and therefore must be set in the last few days of May to the early days of June) Milner's already fitted with a prosthetic and back at work. It takes months for an amputated stump to heal well enough to take a prosthetic, followed by more months of physical therapy for the patient to learn to walk safely. There's just no way Milner would have been able to do what we see him doing on-screen so quickly, and I'm pretty sure Horowitz has admitted as much once in an interview. Chalk it up to dramatic license.

As far as driving in the UK goes, I have a funny story. Back in my college days a group of students from my American university toured England for three weeks in May, visiting historical and cultural sights for academic credit. They employed a minibus and a small van. The young female instructor who was assigned to drive the van was chagrined to find it was a manual transmission -- she could drive one at home, but couldn't adjust herself to shifting gears with her left hand (the clutch, brake and accelerator were all in the expected places, so caused no difficulty).

The solution arrived at was to post a student in the passenger seat next to her who shifted gears for her. For three weeks she'd push in the clutch and say, "Gimme me third!" and the student would oblige. From what I told, they made it work pretty well!
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby annebronterocks » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:53 am

That is a hysterical annecdote! :lol:
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby Sunshine » Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:52 pm

That story sounds like when MK was helping HW, who had an injury, with the Wolseley. :wolseley:
Just looked over the chapter on "Horse Racing and Illegal Rambling."

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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby starlight » Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:45 am

Sunshine wrote:That story sounds like when MK was helping HW, who had an injury, with the Wolseley. :wolseley:

...or the one where HW "outs" him as a nervous passenger

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... chen-.html
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Re: A Question About Cars

Postby Anglophile » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:10 am

Lynette wrote: There's just no way Milner would have been able to do what we see him doing on-screen so quickly, and I'm pretty sure Horowitz has admitted as much once in an interview. Chalk it up to dramatic license.


And, the fact that Anthony Howell's leg was really still attached. He couldn't keep it hidden in the one prosthetic-less full-length shot at the end of The German Woman.

Lynette wrote:The solution arrived at was to post a student in the passenger seat next to her who shifted gears for her. For three weeks she'd push in the clutch and say, "Gimme me third!" and the student would oblige. From what I told, they made it work pretty well!


:lol: I have, as the passenger, shifted gears for new-to-UK drivers. (Though not for three whole weeks!)
And when driving myself, I've occasionally turned the car off before shifting into park. The muscle memory is just not there.
Thank heavens the pedals are in the same locations.
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