Tuesday, September 30

The Coincidence Of The WW2 Nurse And The Truck Driver

The following is a true coincidence story taken from 'WW2 People's War' about Jerry Clements of Middlesbrough as told by Joan Bilton in 1974.

The month was November, and the year 1945. The war in Europe over, and Hiroshima still fresh in the memory. All over the world service men and women were picking up the pieces and dreaming of demob.

North Africa was teeming with prisoners of war and refugees. Algiers was busting at the seams, and among the allied forces in the town was a recently arrived contingent of WAAF’s (Womens Auxiliary Air Force). They were there to assist in the running of No 2 General Hospital, some miles from the town.

On this night a party of these girls - and I was one of them - waited by the hospital gates for transport to take them to a dance at the Sgts. Mess, RAF Blida. The transport was late, and some of them drifted back to their billets. Eventually the truck arrived and in a short time set off for Blida.

As the truck travelled along the 19 year old driver prepared to go over a level crossing. All appeared to be normal, barriers raised and green lights showed. As he drove onto the crossing he was horrified to see an engine speeding down the line and almost on top of them.

In desperation, he wrenched the wheel over to the right and hit the gate post.

The young driver, unhurt but badly shaken, went to get help. He was later to get an official commendation for his skill and prompt action in a serious emergency. Regaining consciousness days later I found I had been the most seriously injured WAAF, having a fractured skull.

Years passed, and I have lived in many parts of the country. My husband got a job with British Steel Corporation and we moved to Middlesbrough. On recommendation of colleagues at work, he decides to take his car to a motor engineer in the town centre.

As it was a Saturday, I went along with him to leave the car and do some shopping. As the repair proved to be easily remedied, we waited for the engineer to complete the job.

As the three of us chatted, a chance remark channelled the conversation into reminiscences of the war.

The engineer, Jerry Clements, had been in the RAF and served in Algiers. A look of amazement spread over his face as I described the ill-fated trip to that dance 29 years before. When the story was told, he spoke quietly.

"I was the driver of that lorry"!

WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.

Other Coincidence Stories:
A Coincidence Of The Devil
Coincidence At Christmas from WW2
The Incredible Coincidence Of The Thai Teachers

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  1. Wow. What are the odds on THAT one?

  2. I can imagine how vivid that memory must have been for all concerned! And for those 2 to meet up again after all those years must have brought it all back. Great story!