Chapter 15

When I had everything taken care of at the Group, which, by the way, was located by the town of Rattlesden, I caught a train to return to London so I could begin to try and find space on a plane headed back to the States. The train arrived in London late, and I took a cab back to the house we had been detained in upon our arrival from Spain. I rang the bell, and it was answered by an enlisted man. He informed me that I could no longer stay there because I had been cleared for transport home. He suggested I go to a Red Cross shelter. I walked the few blocks to the shelter, requested a bed, but was informed they were filled and that I should try the annex. This was another building a few blocks away, so I was able to walk there also. Upon arriving, I was again told there was no room at the inn. What to do? The man at the desk suggested I go to the underground (subway) and spend the night there where it would be safe from the Buzz Bombs, then return in the morning and use their facilities to clean up.

I did just that, spending the night with the civilians on the tile floor of the underground with the children crying all night and the trains coming through until about midnight. We had a terrible attack of Buzz Bombs all through the night. We could hear the close ones as they exploded even though we were way down in the ground. It is odd, now that I think of it, but I did get some sleep on that hard surface, in spite of all the inconvenience. The next morning everyone gathered up their things and left to go about that day’s work. I went back to the Red Cross annex to clean up only to find that it had been hit during that night's attack, leaving nothing standing and all the men inside killed. Not one survivor remained. I must tell you, this really shook me up. I had not only escaped with my life from the plane when it went down, but now a second miracle had occurred. I went to the regular Red Cross building to use their facilities and then proceeded to the place I had been told to report to each day. I was told that there was no room for me on any plane that day.

As near as I can recall, I was about four days trying to catch a ride home. One day, when I inquired about my chances, I was told that there was room for me on a flight out the next day. They gave me the necessary papers and also the train tickets to Scotland. The train departed each evening from London and made the return trip the next morning from Scotland. This was one of the longest days of my life and I thought evening would never come. At last evening came, and I boarded the train for the near end of my saga. With any luck, I would be home within 24 hours.

We made the trip through the night and I dozed, off and on. Although I was tired, I was also very excited. I was to see my wife and daughter in not too many hours. Upon arriving in Scotland, I went to the appointed place to report in and get my assignment for the flight home. I knew that it was always a possibility that some higher qualified person might bump me from the flight. After all, there was a war on and some things took precedent over others. As it happened, there was no problem at all. I was to leave within the hour, and we did. I really did not rest easy until we were off the ground and on our way.

I had been shot down April 27, 1944, and arrived in Spain June 6,   in England June 30, and back home early in July. How could so much happen in so short a time?

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