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Chance Meeting With WW2 Veteran

Article about: Hi all. I just wanted to post this for posterity to remember the service of a Second World War Veteran. On a particularly tedious train journey yesterday I sat opposite a gentleman wearing a

  1. #1

    Default Chance Meeting With WW2 Veteran

    Hi all. I just wanted to post this for posterity to remember the service of a Second World War Veteran. On a particularly tedious train journey yesterday I sat opposite a gentleman wearing an RAF badge on his cap. We got talking and he introduced himself as Don Hollis.

    It turned out that Don had been a Radar operator at the Swingate station near Dover during the War, he recalled to me about watching for German aircraft and alerting British fighters as to their whereabouts. He also told me that he had to climb the radar masts at Swingate for maintenance purposes and could feel them bend in the wind when at the top. They were also under heavy fire from the heavy German guns based near Calais and recounted that he lost a number of friends to their shellfire and it was a constant worry that you were going to be next.

    Later on he was sent to India as part of a mobile radar station based near Calcutta tasked with watching for Japanese air activity, although apparently there was relatively little. He later contracted dysentery which prevented him from being posted to Burma. He said he was lucky as a number of his friends who were sent died in a Japanese air attack. On being invalided to Ceylon in a Dakota he escaped disaster again as the aircraft hit an air pocket an plummeted and narrowly missed hitting a mountain range.

    Finally, he was ordered to prepare for the invasion of Japanese held Sumatra, however just before the kick off they heard that the bomb had been dropped and the War was over.

    I have not really verified any of this, although as soon as I got off the train I scribbled all he had told me down into a notebook to record it. I have just found this link however (see below) which supports what he was telling me.

    BBC - WW2 People's War - With the RAF in India

    I don't think he would mind me writing this as he was proud to have served and I think it is important to record these recollections (I only wish I that I had my voice recorder on me). As with many of his generation he was very humble about his experiences and acknowledged that he had had a good amount of luck to make it through unscathed. It really was a pleasure to meet him and I hope this information has been of interest.

  2. #2

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    Well done mate, sounds like you made his day, and yours too.

  3. #3

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    Cheers, Silberkreuz. Although I think what really made his day was the fact that a lady had obviously overheard our conversation and came over to thank him for his service, which was nice of her.

  4. #4

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    Yes no matter how small or large what one did during the War was still important.
    It must have been a moment for all of you.

    Nice one.

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