Frank reminisces on a life well lived and full of success
FRANK Hubbart remembers his Royal Air Force comrades fondly.
"The lord takes the good ones early,” Mr Hubbart quipped.
But that clearly isn't entirely true, as the World War II veteran is still soldiering on at age 94.
It was just weeks after Mr Hubbart's 18th birthday in October, 1942 when he was called up to the RAF, he would serve out the war flying as a navigator in Halifax aircraft as part of 148 Special Duties Squadron from Brindisi in Italy.
While the Halifax aircraft he flew in was originally designed as a bomber, Mr Hubbart explained he never dropped a single bomb, but instead dropped supplies to partisans in Southern France and Italy as well as the being involved in the ill-fated Warsaw Airlift in 1944.
One of the most enduring memories Mr Hubbart has was the moment his aircraft was forced to ditch into the Adriatic Sea - miraculously all on-board survived the landing, and he and his crew spent three days floating in a life raft before being rescued.
"We went down in flames and I never did find out what happened. We were picked and they threw a bottle of rum to me - and I tell you what, it wasn't a full bottle when they got it back,” he said.
Mr Hubbart pinned their survival on fate.
"An American bomber had seen us. [It was] just luck, that's all - everything must have worked - click - perfectly,” he said.
He left the air force at the end of the war, but his service would continue to affect him for years afterwards.
"I went from 11 stone 4 pounds [71kg] to a bit over 7 stone [44kg], my nerves had gone completely,” he said.
"My shoulders and back - the pains were terrific.”
This would continue to cause problems for him until a chance meeting some years later.
"I went and got a job in New Guinea and lo and behold there I ran into a German doctor who knew what was wrong with me, he gave me a set of exercises and I was alright,” he siad.
"Marvellous that you can be given the right doctor at the right place and the right time and you can get over things.”
Mr Huubart would go on to have a successful 44-year career as a surveyor, working in many areas around the country, before settling in Ipswich until his retirement in 1994 at age 70.
Despite the many trials and tribulations in his years, Mr Hubbart described his life as a tale of "survival and success”.
"I've had a lot of major accidents but my family's teaching was - once you're dead, you're dead, you don't care about getting a headstone.”