Chapter 14: Red troop return home
Julie and Fletch were now heavily involved romantically and were seeing each other as often as possible, meeting up every weekend at the little cottage in Meadstead. After being made aware of Fletchers romantic involvement with another woman, his old girlfriend, Ebony Rimmer was deeply broken hearted, but reluctantly released Fletch from their relationship a few days previously.
Red Troop had now served their full tour in Dhofar Oman and had finally been flown out of RAF Salalah by Beverly troop plane, to spend a further week on recuperation leave in Bahrain before returning home once again to RAF Brize Norton Air Base in the UK.
Julie contacted Fletch as soon as she heard the news from her husband Sergeant Bomber Hill, and together with her parents she set out for RAF Brize Norton to meet the returning troop of Royal Military Policemen to welcome them home.
Fletch had also been informed by his pal Bomber by letter that the troop were due to return home to England on the 26th September 1973 and he too had made arrangements to meet the lads when they flew back into the RAF Base from Bahrain on a RAF VC 10 passenger flight.
Although walking much better now Fletch was still having to use his walking stick for support, and was greeted by Julies father, Major Bambridge Royal Military Police, who told him to sit next to his family on the viewing platform and rest his leg when he finally arrived at the base.
Julie by this time was feeling very guilty, and did her very best to avoid Fletchers gaze when he greeted the family, but pretended that she was pleased to see him once again and made polite conversation about his health now that he had been discharged from military service.
Fletch on the other hand was so deeply in love with his pal Bomber’s wife that nothing mattered to him anymore other than having Julie in his life.
Fletcher continued to make polite conversation with Major Bambridge and his family as the RAF VC10 safely toughed down on the runway, and the band of the Royal Engineers played a medley of marches welcoming the troops home.
The Air Commodore Sir Antony Gilbert DSO DFC took the salute as the returning troops marched passed the podium, and were presented with their General service medals before being stood down and free to join their families after the ceremony.
Sergeant Hill rushed into his wife Julie’s arms, holding her tightly and kissing her tenderly on the lips, before turning to greet her family and his pal Fletch .“It’s good to see you looking well old pal! we’ve so much to catch up on,” said Bomber firmly shaking Fletchers hand.
Fletcher just nodded in agreement but just half heartedly smiled in his direction, hating the thought of anyone else kissing and cuddling his beloved Julie but having very little choice in the matter, and it was now eating away at him just thinking about Bomber sleeping with her on his return home from Brize Norton.
Fletch made his excuses and told Bomber that he was going to greet the rest of Red Troop before they left RAF Brize Norton for home, but asked Bomber to ring him during the following week so he could find time in his busy schedule to take him out on a fishing trip in one of his father’s firms hire boats, whilst Bomber was on his disembarkation leave from the army.
Just as he was leaving he managed to look over his left shoulder, glancing back in Julies direction and nervously giving her an half smile, but she turned her head away quickly just in case her husband noticed the slight glimmer of sadness in her eyes.
The rest of Red Troop were all really pleased to see Fletch and enquire about his future prospects now he had been officially retired from army service. Fletch informed them all that he’d taken up a position in his father’s boat sales company in his hometown of Winchester, and at this present time was quite happy and contented with his lot, although he missed his life in the RMP, and the everyday banter he shared with all his friends.
After everyone dispersed and made their own way home Fletch walked over to his car feeling rather lost and alone, wondering if he was ever going to see his Julie again, and if his best pal Bomber ever found out about his relationship with his wife, how would he take it ?
He had given Julie a private telephone number that was a direct line to his office in his father’s boat showrooms which was situated on the A33 just outside Eastleigh , but he didn’t know if she could find the time to break away from her husband and call him.
A whole week dragged by for Fletcher but Julie had failed to call him, maybe she couldn’t get away from her husband thought Fletch sadly. Just as he was talking to a potential customer in the main boat showroom his direct telephone rang, making his excuses to the customer he quickly ran to his office telephone.
“Jewels! Jewels!, is that you darling, “shouted Fletch down the telephone mouthpiece as he lifted the receiver up with his right hand. Unfortunately for Fletcher the voice on the other end of the line answered; “No your dizzy Mary it’s me, yer pal Bomber, I found yer number on the wife’s dressing table, and she said you gave it to her to give to me pal. Hey who’s this ‘Jewels’ anyway pal, have you been holding out on me buddy, I bet she’s some looker knowing you, I’ll have to meet her when I come down.
Fletcher breathed a sigh of relief, boy was he lucky to have got away with it this time he thought. He had managed to arrange to meet Bomber at the Selby Boat Centre in Selsey on the south coast a fortnight later, so the pair could take a company boat out fishing for the rest of the day.
Just as Fletch was preparing to leave the business premises at the end of the day, his office direct telephone rang again. This time he lifted the receiver and answered it very cautiously.
“Is that you Bomber?” said Fletch in a low voice, and back came the reply “No darling Jack it’s me Julie, I’m really sorry about Bill finding your telephone number my love, but I emptied my handbag on the dressing table without thinking and the little piece of paper with your number written on it fell out and onto the floor, as you can imagine Bill stooped down to pick it up and it’s the first thing I could think of saying. Anyway I’ve missed you so much darling and I really need to see you as soon as possible Jack, as I’ve something to tell you, but not over the telephone my love,” Replied Julie.
“Can we meet at the cottage in Meadstead next Thursday night Julie at about 8am, as it’s the only time I can make it due to the pressure of work this end, do you think you can manage to get away from Bill for a few hours ? ”
“I think he said he was going down to the Queens Head pub in town for a pint with the locals Jack, I’ll tell him I’m meeting my old school pal for a reunion, so if I’m late back I can tell him I broke down, How’s that sound ?.”
“That’s fine my love ,Thursday evening can’t come soon enough for me, God Julie I’ve missed you so much, take care my darling, love you!, see you Thursday evening.”
Fletch replaced the receiver, locked up the boat showrooms and headed for home, feeling warm and content knowing that he would be meeting up with Julie once again within the next few days.