THE BUTCHER'S LAD, THE BARNSTORMER AND THE GRUBBER.
At the age of 40 and unmarried Samuel made a life-changing commitment when, in 1934, he would travel half way around the earth to live and work at the small mining settlement of Tennant’s Creek, part of the wild and unforgiving outback of the Northern Territories of Australia. What was intended to be a six months return trip working ‘down-under’ to earn a few shillings in the 'off' season, became a one way migration when, after a very short period of flying action, all his plans and dreams were to evaporate in a local 'puff of wind'. A hearing defect traceable to his exposure to an explosion in the early days of hostilities was deemed as sufficient to prevent him from obtaining a commercial pilot's licence in Australia which meant that he was never to fly again - personally disastrous and a massive, heart-breaking obtrusion for one so dedicated to his art. With ideas of an alternative source of income, he would join immigrant prospectors and acquire a gold mine locally to become a ‘grubber’. And it was here that he would die, alone, in 1967.
This is my account of all I have been able to discover of the remarkable life of this expatriate air pioneer extraordinaire, alas, now all but forgotten in his absence and the passage of time. He properly lays claim to the soubriquet of ‘local hero’, not only in his home town of Melton Mowbray in England to which place he never ever returned, but also in that of his adopted township of Tennant’s Creek where he is at least remembered locally with some affection and where artefacts relating to his life and work in the outback are currently held in the local museum. I hope I can do justice to Sam for whom, in absentia, I have acquired a great fondness and boyish admiration.
As this is one of my longer efforts at producing a story, it will, by necessity be split into probably (and hopefully) 3 sections. I already feel great apprehension about laying out my deliberations and future intentions and thus I refuse to make any promises. I believe that it is a significant little narrative and that Sam was a man to remember who deserves to have it told; so I will do my very best. Bear with me!