|Steve's full war memories ................ / page 2|
Apparently the door between the navigator and me had swung round in the force, breaking my leg and foot. In addition, as I was swung round on impact, I hit my right shoulder against the armour plating behind my seat and broke that too and finished off with the arm of the seat breaking my ribs. Apart from that I was ok!
Sadly, the skipper died from his injuries that were severe; the rear gunner received a fractured diaphragm of the stomach caused by the buckle of his harness. The navigator and bomb aimer received cuts, bruises and suffered shock.
For five months I convalesced in RAF Bridgenorth hospital with a full-length plaster on my right leg and foot and my shoulder was strapped. For the first month I had to lay on my back with a sand bag in the centre of my shoulders to allow the shoulder to drop and heal.
The surgeon who fixed me up was Squadron Leader Leggett. He did a good job for within five months I was sent to an RAF remedial centre next to Hoylake golf course. I guess the crazy type of golf and walking round the course helped me to get full movement back to my limbs and have just the slightest limp. Within 7 months I was pronounced fit and sent back to OTU at Wellsbourne. On arriving back I was told by the training CO to wait for the next course intake before finding a new crew.
The next intake arrived. One day whilst lining up in the mess for lunch there were three Canadians, a pilot, bomb aimer and gunner. They were in earnest conversation about trying to find a good wireless operator and I broke into their conversation and confirmed that I was a wireless op and was looking for a crew. "Would I do"? The pilot turned around, took a look at me and replied, "you certainly will"! The other two agreed, we shook hands and Wilf, the pilot asked me my name and when I told him "Bill", he said that he already had a Bill in the crew, so I told him to call me Steve (my second name), and this has stayed with me ever since, save from my late Mum and sisters.
After lunch I was introduced to Bill Cullen and after receiving his approval, was formally announced as one of the crew, which delighted me.
We sailed through our training at OTU. Wilfred, Chuck, Stan and myself shared a billet together at Wellsbourne - Bill Cullen being a F/O was billeted in the Officers Mess.
The four of us had some great times in that Billet and when the food
parcels arrived for Wilf, Chuck and Stan, they always shared with me -
even the cigarettes (in those days I smoked). Somehow we always managed
to get food from the Mess having, it seems, plenty of tea and coffee as
well as other liquid beverages! If I remember correctly, I think Chuck
helped by charming the WAAFs on the Mess staff. All the girls fell for
him and thanks to his charm and good looks on numerous occasions we had
a good feed.