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15 October 2014
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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
John Henry Hick
Location of story: 
34 MU RAF Monkmoor, Shrewsbury
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 November 2005

It was the accepted duty of the first person to enter the Accounts Office in the morning to light the stove. One morning as I went in Corporal F was busy with paper, sticks and coal/coke trying to get the fire lit - but with no success. He then went to a cupboard and bought out a lemonade bottle full of "a liquid'. He took the top off the stove, cork out of the bottle and turned the bottle to pour the liquid into the stove. Suddenly there was a large bang and a huge flame leapt up to the ceiling and the stove pipe disintegrated into three pieces.

The WAAF present shrieked so I opened a window and pushed her out into the farmyard next door. Meanwhile the Corporal had tried to put out the flame by using the coconut doormat, only to set light to the mat. I managed to roll the mat and stop it from burning any more and meanwhile the flame had subsided and we had a good fire going. Between the Corporal and I we managed to put the pipe together and opened all windows to get rid of the smoke and fumes and let in the WAAF. We managed to carefully get rid of the burnt mat and get a new one from stores. We were very lucky to have escaped any injury. The lemonade bottle was full of aircraft fuel.

There were many RAF patients, both ground staff and flying crew, who suffered terrible burns by aircraft fuel, and they spent many months as guinea pigs at the East Grinstead Hospital.

This story was entered on the People’s War site by Melita Dennett on behalf of John Hick, who understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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