Richard “Ginger” Pape, born 1916 in Yorkshire, was a decorated war hero who had survived being shot down in a bomber and subsequent prisoner of war experiences that culminated in a daring compassionate prisoner exchange that involved identity theft and faked kidney disease with the aid of a prosthetic penis.
Immediately after the war Richard went to South Africa where he wrote “Boldness Be My Friend” about his wartime adventures.
After returning to the UK in 1953 to promote the book, Richard took on a new adventure to drive from North Cape, Norway in the Arctic Circle to Cape Town South Africa.
Richard drove an Austin A90 Six Westminster model which had been launched in 1954 powered by an 85hp 2.6 litre / 161 cui motor that gave a top speed of 86 mph.
Austin’s agent in Oslo supplied Richard with today’s featured car after Richards original A90 was lost down a ravine in a 60 mph incident which left his intended co driver sufficiently disinclined to start the adventure.
Starting on July 28th Norwegian Johan Brun joined Richard and they crossed Europe in eleven days, on reaching Gibraltar Johan fell ill and so Royal Air Force Sergeant Johnny Johnson was persuaded to go absent without leave and accompany Richard to Africa using Brun’s travel documents.
Richard and Johnny were perhaps unsurprisingly detained by the authorities in Morrocco and upon his release Richard attempted to cross the Sahara solo without official permission.
After damaging the Austin’s suspension in the middle of the Sahara Richard fell sick but managed to set out on foot to find help.
After being rescued by nomads Richard continued alone to Nigeria where he was rejoined by the recovered Johan Brun.
Mid rainy season the pair continued across Central Africa through swollen rivers, along washed out roads, among hostile natives and survived a crash in Congo.
On the 22nd of October Richard drove the Austin into Cape Town to finish his 17,500 mile adventure.
In 1956 Richard published an account of the journey called Cape Cold to Cape Hot in which he referred to the Austin as Pape’s Prigress.
After undertaking similar endurance drives in North America for the Rootes Group, more adventures in Antartica, where he fell in the sea at McMurdo Sound, Richard eventually settled down in Papua New Guinea on the advice of Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C. who advised Richard do something useful with his life instead of trying to repeatedly kill himself.
Nine years after establishing a Leonard Cheshire Home for sick children and marrying for a second time Richard and his wife, a Lawyer with whom he fell on love when she arranged bail for him for dangerous driving, left Papua for Australia where he continued to write until he died in 1995.
Thanks for joining me on this “Pape’s Progress” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !