RAF Missing in Action Telegram
This telegram was sent to my mother to tell her I had been shot down. The telegram is in good condition. It was a blue carbon copy , the post office must have kept the original or the pads that they used were multi copy, anyhow the telegrams were written in pencil (before ball pens) with a carbon for the customer. This particular telegram, however, was sent in error. I had not been shot down.
Les Lauzon, of my crew, and I were marshalling our crews plane, V victor, from our dispersal to the main runway. As I unlocked the elevators by pulling out the large pin, something slipped and my hand was trapped and very badly cut, I had to be taken to the hospital, sewn up, bandaged and my arm put in a sling. No possibility of my going on the op so a spare F/E was called up in my place. Later that night after some pain killers and a rest I heard the 432 planes returning and went down to the Ops room where all returning crews had to call in and give our statement of events, what we saw , if we could give any details of aircraft shot down , and all the details that would help to decide if the target had been hit.
When the Station Adjutant saw me he had a fit, my mother had just been sent a telegram, the above, to say I was missing on operations, my crew had been shot down and would not be returning. This was a great shock to me and as it was now just after 8 o/clock in the morning knew that my Dad would be at work in his office on the docks at Dover, gave the Adjutant the number and was put through in record time, told Dad I was ok and would explain the details when I saw him. Nothing for me to do on the base so home I went on the next train from York to Dover , I arrived just after eight the next morning and phoned Dad from the Railway Station, he picked me up and took me home , Mum was at the local corner shop and post office, all the staff knew me and also knew about the telegram, thought I would have some luck with the local girls if I spun the yarn that I had swum the English Channel with one hand , didnt work out that way because a couple of days later I went to hospital due to complications from my wound. I spent some time laying in bed staring through the large windows hoping for sleep and return to health and wondering what had happened to my crew.
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Copyright John Justin 1998-2020