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29 Apr, 2010 16:03

“I could not stop my body from shaking” – WWII veteran

RT presents War Witness – a special project dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Second World War.

World War II veterans recount their stories about the war, its effects and its human perspective.

War veteran Leslie Temple, who served as a radio operator in British air force’s 101st squadron, recalled one of the air battles he took part in.

“My skipper, who I owe my life to, he switched off the other two engines so we had no power at all. The aircraft just dropped – 13,000 feet. We were 23,000 feet originally, we dropped 13,000 feet to get out of the searchlight, then he put on those two engines and we managed to get out,” he said.

“But of course, during that time we had so much shrapnel going from the guns, we came back with nearly a hundred holes in the aircraft,” Temple added.

“But we found out that the hydraulics did not work because we had used up all the liquid in the hydraulic section and we could not get the wheels down, so it was a question of a crash landing,” he said. “What happened was he had a brainwave, to put it rather crudely. The skipper asked the crew to urinate into the hydraulic section and that provided sufficient liquid to get the hydraulic wheels down to land very heavily.”

Temple added that after this experience he felt the effects of combat stress.

“When I went to bed that night, for 12 hours my body shook. I could not stop my body from shaking,” he told RT.

Donald Larrabee, who was a public relations specialist with the U.S. Army Air Corps, recalled his reaction to the news of the atomic bomb being dropped on Japan.

“I was on Okinawa on August 8, 1945 when we got news of the atomic bomb being dropped,” he said. “None of us had ever heard of it before, but we began to write quickly that this was going to be the end of the war, we would not have to invade Japan, and it was a very exciting thing for us to know that the war was coming to an end.”