As It Happens

As It Happens: The Shepherd Edition

As we have nearly every Christmas Eve since 1979, "As it Happens" presents "Fireside Al" Maitland's classic reading of "The Shepherd", by Frederick Forsyth.
A de Havilland Vampire jet flanked by a "ghost" de Havilland Mosquito (Kevin Ball)
Listen to the full episode31:34

Climb into the cockpit with "Fireside Al" Maitland as he once again heads out over the North Sea, in our annual reading of Frederick Forsyth's short story, "The Shepherd".

The year is 1957. An RAF pilot is heading home from Germany for Christmas. Fog sets in, and all radio communication is lost.

Below are some links to Shepherd-related items that followed, or were mentioned, after the broadcasted reading:

Dave Barrett, Canadian former pilot with the RAF "Pathfinder" squadron (Courtesy of April Butler)
  • Meet Dave Barrett, a real-life World War II "shepherd"
     
  • Director April Butler's film documents the Canadian restoration of a De Havilland Mosquito airplane.
     
  • Last year, we attempted to track the flight path of the pilot in "The Shepherd". Check it out and see if you agree with our analysis.
     
  • From October of this year, Carol's interview with Frederick Forsyth, in which the author of "The Shepherd" reveals that he once served as an informant for British Secret Intelligence, MI6.

  • Jonathan Hardman likely owes his life to his trusty German Shepherd, Rambo, who bore the brunt of a freak lightning bolt that struck both of them atop a Colorado mountain.
     
  • From Our Archives, former As it Happens host Mary Lou Finlay speaks with Richard Triner, a former RAF pilot who may have been the unwitting source of persisent sightings of ghost planes, hovering above the hills of Yorkshire, in northern England:
From 1994, Mary Lou Finlay's interview with a former RAF pilot may have been the unwitting source of persisent sightings of ghost planes, hovering above the hills of Yorkshire, in northern England. 6:44
  • From 2008, BBC coverage of the story of Jim O'Neill, who was shepherded to a safe landing by an RAF wing commander, after he was stricken blind due to a stroke while piloting his plane from Scotland to southern England.

  • And Talkback shares stories of The Shepherd, and of being sustained by the voice of "Fireside Al" through cold and sometimes lonely winter nights.
Talkback shares stories of The Shepherd, and of being sustained by the voice of "Fireside Al" through cold and sometimes lonely winter nights. 8:52

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