Is this Welwyn Garden City’s oldest driver?
A ONE-LEGGED pensioner has called time on his motoring days – 72 years after first getting behind.
Back when Frederick McCaffery was learning to drive, Adolf Hitler was involved in a dispute over the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.
The year was 1938, and while the two events appear unrelated, both were to play a significant role in Frederick’s life, as the World War Two veteran, now aged 91, has finally decided to hand in his driving licence – 72 years after first passing his test.
Even more remarkably, the great grandfather – possibly Times Territory’s oldest motorist – has spent the last 12 years driving with only ONE leg.
This week Frederick told the WHT about his extraordinary life, and why he decided it was finally time to hang up his driving gloves.
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“Every time I did something wrong, the instructor would make me pull over and he’d hit my hand with a stick,” said Frederick, recalling his early lessons.
“That’s how I learnt to drive.”
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When war was declared the following year, Frederick fought with the Middlesex Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, driving trucks and instructing other soldiers how to operate vehicles.
He saw combat in France, Italy and Sicily, before returning home in 1946.
Frederick was employed by the then state-owned transport business British Road Service, and would regularly travel to depot WGC as part of his job.
He eventually moved to the town in 1960, and lived in Broadwater Road with his wife and three children.
Then, in 1998, Frederick had an operation to remove his gangrenous right leg.
“I started getting cramp in my leg,” Frederick said.
“My arteries were hardened, so I had to have it taken off.”
Undaunted, he continued driving using a modified Nissan Sunny, with the clutch, break and accelerator on the steering wheel.
But when an injury he sustained to his right hand a couple of years ago began to affect his grip, Frederick decided to end his motoring days.
“It’s the perfect timing,” said Frederick’s daughter Sue.
“Dad’s hand is getting worse, so when his licence expired in July, he decided not to renew it.”
Asked about her father’s driving habits, Sue, 58, said: “He’s a gentleman on the road.
“I always felt safe being driven by Dad.”
Indeed, Frederick’s record speaks for itself.
In all his years on the road, his licence was entirely unblemished – except for a �5 speeding fine he picked up in 1959.
“I was caught doing 30.7mph in a 30mph zone,” he recalled. “Unbelievable...”