The next thing I knew was a brightness above me and in front of me. On the way down I was so certain that I would be killed that when I came to and saw the brightness I thought it was a spiritual experience, and that I was in Heaven. Dozens of hands were clutching at me. Next time I came round I had a glimpse through dull red of people pressing round, of a man bending over me with his back close. There was a dreadful pain. Someone was stitching me up, and sometimes I counted the stitches. From the pain I had a terrible fear that I was a eunuch, and then I felt that there was nothing to live for, gave up resisting the pain and slid into unconsciousness. Presently I was back again and once more counting stitches, in, across, out. I was groaning with pain, felt that I was behaving badly, and was angry. After the man had finished he gave me morphia.
At nightfall I was still alive. When I came to I was concerned only with one thing and terribly afraid. I dared not ask what state I was in. Presently a faint humour stirred, and when I spoke I wondered if my voice was squeaky.
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That was one of the greatest moments of my life, and I put everything I could into the effort to get well again quickly. Now I wanted to know what had happened, for I had absolutely no idea of what had hit me or what I had hit.
What had happened was this: there were seven steel telephone wires stretched from the highest point on the outer rim of the harbour to the top of the hill behind the township. This was a long span, of perhaps half a mile. It is almost impossible to spot wires in the air when moving fast towards them, and the longer their span the less chance there is of seeing them. In this case I had no information that the wires were there, and I had no thought of wires so high up right across the harbour. I had flown straight into those wires. They had stopped the seaplane in flight, and catapulted it back. One or more of the float struts or booms had been cut through. The seaplane was shot back until the wires were at full stretch, and then the wires, hooked up behind the cut boom and struts, catapulted the seaplane forward again. Next, the wires cut through all the booms, struts and rigging stays of one float. It was cut away in mid-air, and fell apart from the seaplane. I think that this must have occurred when the seaplane was stopped again, after being catapulted forward. Then it somersaulted, and shot straight to the ground. I must have been already badly bashed, and I wonder if my attempt to deflect the seaplane into the water had any effect. Whether I was responsible or not, the seaplane was deflected, and hit the sloping wall at the edge of the harbour. It piled up at the foot of the wall.
Seen from the ground, this must have been a most fantastic accident to watch; a seaplane stopped in mid-air, catapulted back, then forward, torn apart in the air, then catapulted vertically down to the ground. I am only sorry that I could not have been on the ground myself to watch it! I wish I knew how long the whole accident had taken, for I should like to know how long was the period during which the scenes, the feeling and thoughts flashed on to my brain.
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