Across the sea, nearly a mile offshore, was a castle on an island, surrounded by the angry waters of the English Channel. I assumed from the description given to me, this was Royal Naval Station Enysfarne. The castle's tall medieval spires were silhouetted against the red twilight of the setting sun. The castle looked like a brooding dragon standing watch over England’s shores: the path up to its keep, the dragon's spiny tail; the parapets, the folds of its angled wings; the turrets, the crown of its ever-vigilant brow.


Beyond the sentry post was an archway flanked by two half-round towers. Passing through, I came upon a cobblestone road that led to a small harbour sitting at the rocky footings of the castle. As far as I could see in the dimming light, the harbour consisted of a cluster of small stone buildings that watched over a pair of man-made piers jutting out from the island like a giant crab's claw. The Atlantic Ocean, with its marauding wolf packs of German U-boats, lay just beyond the waves lapping against the harbour's concrete seawalls.


I climbed the wet, weathered steps towards the castle keep, my tired body dwarfed by the sheer size of Enysfarne's impenetrable medieval battlements. Part fortress, part monastery, ancient Enysfarne was the thing of Arthurian legends. But there were no archers in sight; no bows to strike fear upon those who were besieging its walls. Instead, the ramparts bristled with ack-ack guns and searchlights, radio towers and machine-gun nests.


The castle of Enysfarne was a dark and towering force that hovered over what was left of my innocence. It contained my destiny, of that I had no doubt whatsoever; a fate that threatened to wipe the blush off my face and turn me into the man my father always wanted me to be.