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15 October 2014
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A Broken Neck from a Protective Helmet

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Hilary Henderson (nee Scott-Maxwell)
Location of story: 
Fulham, London
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 September 2005

[This story was submitted to the People’s War website by a volunteer from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on behalf of Hilary Henderson and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Henderson fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.]

I was a physiotherapist at St Stephen’s in Fulham at the start of the war. It was bombed three times and each time a ward on each of the 3 floors would go. I was on duty at the time of the last bombing. The number of patients diminished as people were evacuated, so I left in 1940 and joined the WAAF. They didn’t need me as physiotherapist, so I worked in administration. I was very proud to have become a corporal.

I had to write to my father in Glasgow after every air raid because he worried so.

I got about London on my bike, which was a wonderful way to get around.

I had three brothers who were very worried about me being in London during the Blitz. My eldest brother sent me a helmet to protect me during raids. I was staying with friends and they insisted on me wearing the helmet when a siren went off. Later, on the bus, I was still wearing the helmet, but after the journey I found I couldn’t move my neck.

The doctors took an x-ray and discovered it had been broken by the heavy helmet and the movement of the bus. The doctors thought this a huge joke and teased me no end.

I had to be off work for 6 weeks, but couldn’t be idle. So I joined the Red Cross for those few weeks and spent the days labelling parcels.

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