1987. Boarding the Zeebrugge ferry was a task in its self...

   1987...Boarding the Zeebrugge ferry was a task in itself. After the long drive getting there, it would be a night sail. Luckily it was calm, but very cold. I couldn't believe the number of people there were on board: people were lying along the aisles, sleeping. It was then I had the most awful premonition.

  Turning to Karen my companion, I said."There's not a lot of life jackets there. Wot would they do if people needed them?" Trying to dismiss my thoughts we sat down with our drinks:  but the kids were getting anxious. Boredom soon set in.

  "Come on now. Look at those pretty lights out on the water." But it was so dark out there. Trying to keep the kids amused was hard work, and before I knew it, my daughter had done a disappearing act. I was frantic and looked all over the ferry, asking people if they had seen a little girl with pigtails and wearing red leggings. I dragged my son behind me-who was by this time, overtired and screaming his head off. I thought I would go into premature labour, and was thinking all kinds of things. "Wot if she's got out on deck?" It didn't bear thinking about.Hysterically I began calling for her.I had lost all sense of reality, when Karen called 

  "She's in here... Diane...she's in here..." The little horror had taken herself off to the toilet, thinking she was all grown-up going by herself...

  Getting to our destination was exhausting: the ferry crossing and the long drive to Manchester with two hysterical children was more than I could bear. I was near to tears when I met Dan at the other end. The only thing I could think about was I that I had to do all again when I had to go back. The thought of it was making me physically ill. I begged Dan to come back with me, but of course the army doesn't work like that. I would have to go back alone. His exorcise wouldn't be finished by the time I had to go back: he would be  a couple of days behind me.

  And it was on that fateful night in March 1987 when he was coming home, that disaster struck. The Zeebrugge ferry had gone down, causing so much destruction and ruin. Dan was coming the other way back to Germany on the same night. The English Channel would show no mercy. God bless you all.

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