The following extracts are from Merton Naydler's excellent account of Johnstone and Hoare’s attempt: The Penance Way: The mystery of Puffin’s Atlantic voyage

John Hoare – A brief profile

29, unmarried, 6’0” (1.81m), 15 stone (210lbs, 95kgs), press officer.

‘Hoare, a tall and good-looking twenty-nine, was a fit, muscular, outdoor man. Outwardly conventional and perhaps less imaginative than Johnstone, he was a romantic with an inbred sense of adventure. As a schoolboy he was extremely popular, physically and mentally strong, and although gentle and easy going his anger was quickly roused at injustice.

He excelled at rugby football, an activity he carried into manhood, and by contrast also enjoyed caricature drawing, at which he was adept. He loved adventure and adventure books, and became infatuated with the heroism he dug out of World War I books, which he read avidly, studying military techniques and tactics until he became authoritative about the War’s battles and the generals who conducted them. He had gathered material about Captain Ball, v.c., one of


the great flying idols of 1914 -18, and was engaged in writing a book about him.He was a great admirer of courage and of writers about courage, and thus a Hemingway fan.

During military service he became a parachutist, and while stationed in Germany learnt to speak the language fluently. After his discharge from the Army he joined the Territorial reserve, continuing his parachuting activities. He also enjoyed shooting, and was a first class swimmer. It was important to him to maintain a high standard of physical fitness, but equally he enjoyed good restaurants and good conversation. He owned fast cars which he drove in rallies, and was as comfortable in rough outdoor tweeds and corduroys as in the dark suits his work demanded. During his military service he had studied free lance journalism and taught himself to type, and became feature writer and motoring correspondent on a Lincolnshire newspaper. In conversation he was laconic and very much to the point; he could not tolerate hypocrisy, a characteristic which was totally lacking in him. He loved dogs, and was accompanied everywhere by his own boxer. His thinking was straight, and his expression correspondingly direct. His sense of humour was such that he derived maximum pleasure from the innate folly of the human situation; he laughed at himself rather than at his fellow men, for whom he felt profound compassion. Tallying at so many points with Johnstone’s own personality, he was at the same time a perfect foil for the man whose advertisement had evoked the instant response of a parallel adventurous spirit.’


More about David Johnstone