Tilbury to Pula (Yugoslavia)

The Felbertaurern Tunnel Incident

I think the year was 1966. Myself, Percy Dalton and Colin Avery set out from Tilbury for a summer holiday in Pula, Yugoslavia.

The route took us across the channel on the ferry, through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and into Yugoslavia. We were in travelling in my new Mark 2 mini. Myself and Ave shared the driving, as Percy did not yet have a licence.

After some heavy driving, we ended up in Munich, where we stopped for an evening meal and sampled some of the local hooch.

We set off again through Germany and into Austria, heading for the Felbertauern Tunnel, which would take us to the road south to Italy.

It was late at night, and I was driving. The German hooch was making me feel tired and emotional, so I asked Ave to take over the driving, and fell asleep on the back seat.

After a couple of hours, Ave woke me up and asked me to take over the driving, which I did. We were just entering the Tunnel. After a few hundred yards, the car was making a loud ticking noise, which happened to be the petrol pump. YES, we ran out out petrol. It is now about 2 am. I called Ave everything except late for work, and he just said, “well, we didn’t pass a garage”. Percy was just laughing.

I wandered off to find an emergency phone, dialed the emergency number, and said in my best schoolboy German,” Ich nich habe pertrol”

About 10 minutes later, a jeep turned up, and out got an Austrian Gentlemen in full traditional dress. The short Lederhosen, the frilly shirt, and a silly big hat. He also had the biggest red beard we had ever seen. He was also laughing like a drain. 

Well, this was too much for the three of us, and we were in hysterics. We could not stop laughing. That is, until he gave us the bill. It was probably the most expensive gallon of petrol we ever bought.

 We continued on our way, and eventually found Pula in Yugoslavia. But that is another story. 

I think Ave has been in Australia for years. He still owes me for petrol.

Happy Day.







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  • Chris I left the UK in October 1970 and I just can’t remember whether Ave left before me or after me, if it was before then that would be typical of him, no fuss, no parties, just slipping quietly out the back door. I certainly haven’t heard a peep either from him or about him and sometimes wonder if he’s still with us! If I remember correctly he lived in the Circle and had a sister, perhaps one of the followers of this site have some information and could put us in touch even if it’s only to get your petrol money back.

    By Percy Dalton (10/03/2015)
  • Percy, 

    As always with that gentleman, there is a story there. I am a bit hesitant to publish too much on this site. I don’t want to be perceived as being dominant on it. However, I will put up some memories shortly, and of course you will feature in one or two of them.



    Chris V

    By Chris Vinson (10/03/2015)
  • Hi Andy,

    I arrive back in UK on 1st April. I will give Malcolm and Jackie your regards.

    Chris V

    By Chris Vinson (08/03/2015)
  • Hi Chris, give my regards to Malcolm and Jackie next time you see them ,Cheers Andy.

    By andy reynolds (06/03/2015)
  • Percy,


    I stand corrected on the date. I am working from a failing memory. 

    Yes, I remember the Bonzo Dog Doo  Dah Band on the ferry.

    I will dig into my memory, and narrate something about Venice and Munich.

    I am sure your memory will help contribute. 

    Do you ever hear from Ave?


    Chris Vinson


    By Chris Vinson (05/03/2015)
  • Chris we landed in Ostend on September 11th 1968 as verified by my passport stamp. If you remember some of our fellow passengers on that ferry crossing were Viv Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

    I hope you’re keeping the stories about our Pernod drinking exploits in Venice and our Bavarian beer (is the best beer in the whole vide vorld) quaffing at the Munich beer festival for another time.

     Incidentally, as I remember it I got the blame for running out of petrol and I strongly suspect that it was because I was the appointed navigator and probably mostly because I was the youngest!



    By Percy Dalton (04/03/2015)
  • What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing with us!


    Annie O’Brien

    By Annie O'Brien (03/03/2015)

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