Before I started reading the Reader's Digest Junior Omnibus, I hadn't read much. I know I had read the Little Golden Book with the yawning bear on the cover, The Golden Sleepy Book (with its endlessly fascinating Droste Effect cover). I still have my own copy. Probably I had other Little Golden Books, but the omnibus was my first grown-up book, or so I thought, and I read about many things for the first time: about blind bureaucracy, for example, in Pigs is Pigs. First biographies, first tales of heroism, first tales of history.
The Night My Number Came Up was my first creepy story, the first I read about premonition. And it was a true story. Victor Goddard is about to fly from Shanghai to Tokyo. He has years of Air Force experience under his belt, yet he feels a terrible sense of dread: he thinks everyone aboard the plane will die.
The night before, at a party, Goddard overheard a commander in the Royal Navy say that Goddard had been in a plane crash. When the commander sees Goddard he is astonished and tells Goddard about the dream he had, where Goddard's plane crashes on a rocky shingly shore in a snow storm, with an RAF crew and three civilians aboard. In the evening.
By the time of take-off the next morning, the plane does have the crew and the three civilians aboard. Everything foretold: rocky beach, snow, evening, crash, comes true. Except Goddard survives.
The Night My Number Came Up was first published in The Saturday Evening Post and adapted as a film in 1955, starring Michael Redgrave and Denholm Elliott.
Robert Victor Goddard was born in 1897 in Wembley, England.He attended two Royal Navy colleges andd served as a midshipman in WWI. During WWII he was appointed as Air Commodore Chief of the Air Staff, Royal New Zealand Air Force. Goddard married Mildred Catherine Jane Inglis. Their daughter, Jane Helen Goddard, was married to Sir Robin Chichester-Clark.