Back from the dead

My story is on similar lines of that by Geoff Yardley (April 86, page 102). A few years back, talking with Colonel Ted Lough and Fritze Lawson (Ex RSM) in the Sgts Mess at one of the Re-unions, the subject cropped up of 'Do you Remember' so and so and one name I mentioned was Mr Thomas, Platoon Officer, B Coy, 7th (LI) Para Bn. Now as far as I was concerned, I had seen Mr Thomas carried away on a stretcher after the attack on 'Bobs Farm' in Normandy. Without a doubt we believed he had bought it. Just then Ted mentioned to both of us and introduced us to the 'Dead' man! Yes, it was Mr Thomas who all those years I had believed was buried in Normandy. He had indeed received some terrible wounds, which kept him in dock quite a long, long, time. But never-the-less a happy ending. not only for me, but many others who thought he had died.

There was also Derek Glaister. I got a phone call from Frank Young - could I recall the name? Well I wasn't too sure myself at the time but Frank explained his Rank, Pl, Coy and Battalion. I then rang Bob Allen. in Cumbria. Yes Bob could recall young Derek - He was his Section Sgt but he was killed on the DZ over the Rhine! When I gave him the details that Frank had given me, he could not at first accept it was the same man. But another Happy Ending. as Bob and myself have since met up with him.

April 7th 1945. a sad day indeed for B Coy 7th (LI) Para Bn. We ran into an ambush on Wunstorf Airfield. a place we were told was absolutely clear of the enemy. The planned objective was the bridge at Neustadt a few miles further on. Our platoon 6 PI. was in the lead. when we were caught in our transport in a vicious cross-fire.

Now one of those. who I again had thought was dead was my Pl Officer. Lt R Hinman.' 'Lofty' to the boys (though not to his face) he was also known as 'Cardinal' by the officers.

He had caught a hefty packet and the driver had been killed. But on an airfield there's not much cover to hide behind. so there wasn't much chance of running around to check on casaulties, except those near to you. Having seen the shambles in the cab of the lorry, it seemed to us that 'Lofty' had bought it too. So the years wore on and then I got a whisper that 'Lofty' was alive. At time it still seemed unbelievable hut the word had it that he was working for a prominent oil company. Many letters around the world, bought no news at at all - phone calls too. It was then that 'Pegasus' Journal was to play a part in this story.

By pure chance 'Lofty' came into possession of the Journal and browsing through it he spotted a letter from m e about one of our Re-unions. He got into contact with Ken Follett our new Secretary and was back among us at last! I had the pleasure of meeting 'Lofty' (Ron as we now know him) and his charming wife. Valerie who had arranged for myself, Derek Glaister and Harry Navin to call on him on his Birthday.

Sadly Ron had to lose a leg, due to the incident at Wunsdorf and like Mr Thomas, and Derek Glaister he too had to spend a lot of time in hospital. What a day we all had talking over old times. Certainly time is fast passing by. But it's still great to meet up with those who shared the same conditions as you did. I often wonder where are Bill Clare, 'Diamond' Jim Potter, 'Nobby' Clarke, 'Gunner' Loade, Roy Brennan, Billy Rowe, Johnny Thackery, 'Jock' Orr, 'Jock' Reaside,'Jock' Smith, Roy Famngton. 'Hutch' Hutchinson. So many to remember. No doubt time has caught up with some but you never forgot. How can you forget, especially those who paid with their lives.

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