- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Arthur Norman Small
- Location of story:
- In the village of Binbrook Lincs
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 20 March 2004
HOW I WON ELIZABETH
It was on the 11th March 1945 that our crew did its 8th operation as a daylight to Essen where we bombed Krupp's Works. We took off just after 11 am and returned about 5 and a half hours later to debriefing and the usual meal of bacon and eggs.
Our crew consisted of six Aussies and a Yorkshire lad, Les, who was our Flight Engineer. He was also a fully fledged Pilot.At the time, we were in an airman's cottage close to the Tailors'Shop which was also in a nearby cottage.I was the one crew member who got to know the WAAFs in the Tailors' shop.
While we were having our post ops meal, Les and I "liberated" some slices of bread and some margarine. Later in the afternoon we were crouched around a small nugget of fire in the upstairs room holding slices of bread on a bent wire to make toast.Outside it was cold and windy.
Suddenly, an aircraft flew over the cottages very low. In fact it almost scrapped the roof and the then there was an enormous explosion. Les said, "Well, it wasn't a Jerry and certainly not a Lanc."
"Let's find out."
Down the stairs, out of the cottage and across to the main gate, we belted. By this time, we could see where the aircraft had hit the deck on the side of the road leading to the village.We ran towards the burning wreck but had to back off very smartly when the ammunition started to explode. This was easy to see as tracer shells flew out streaming from the wreck.
As we turned to go back up the hill, we found three WAAFs scrabbling around in the ditch. They were in floods of tears , dishevelled, disorientated
and shaking with fright.Around them were bits of the aircraft and some of these were burning. Amazingly, the blast from the huge explosion had flung them from the road into the grassy ditch on the verge.As the aircraft had hit, a land mine or a torpedo on board had exploded.
Not one of the girls had a scratch but they were certainly shocked. We helped them to their feet and as I looked at them, I recognized girls from the Tailors' Shop.I picked the prettiest one and within months we were married. She was of course Elizabeth, a Scot and she became God's Gift to me.
We has some 48 wonderful years together before she died in 1993.People often ask couples how they met. Our meeting was a lowly one in a ditch and we were never ashamed to tell of how a disaster led to a wonderful meeting and a marriage.
Many years later, in 1994-5 an Englishman who made a study of crash sites gave me some details of the crash. The aircraft was a Beaufighter with two crew on board and when it hit the hillside on that road down to Binbrook village, the explosion tore a great hole in the ground and killed several sheep who were grazing in the field. Of course the crew were lost and it was a miracle how the WAAFs escaped.
I remember Elizabeth saying that when she gathered her wits and looked around her she saw burning bits and thought she had landed in hell.Thank God she hadn't; she had a lot more living to do and to share with me in Australia.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.