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Thread: Severed Leg

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    Default Severed Leg

    Fellow forumites,

    I apologise in advance for asking a similar question contained in recent thread, but would anyone happen to know the details of an incident mentioned in the Evening Despatch of Saturday 18 November 1944 (extract below) please? I believe that Frank Burchell was an intelligence officer and he was awarded the MBE for his work at RAF Coltishall.

    "Every time a pilot lands at a Fighter Command airfield in East Anglia the first person he talks to is Flight-Lieut. Frank Burchell, M.B.E., of Hampstead, London, states Air Ministry News Service.....

    …….On one occasion when a reconnaissance aircraft returning from a flight over enemy territory with vital information landed at his airfield, the pilot had to have a leg amputated. Doctors administered a local anaesthetic, and during the operation the pilot calmly gave Flight-Lieut. Burchell information upon which the success of other operations depended."


    Many thanks in advance

    Jonny
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Mmm. A local anaesthetic for an amputation?

    Brian

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    Ghastly though it may be, I have been told of a flyer being trapped in a crashed plane and amputation of a limb was the only way to get him out quickly. The doctor said he could not put him under where he was so used a local anaesthetic. The story came from a flyer who witnessed the event.

    Back to the question: I will try to find Burchell. I have seen that name in a book, I believe in the role you describe, and hopefully will be able to find him again.

    Bruce
    http://www.filephotoservice.co.uk/
    RESEARCH AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES & OTHER UK INSTITUTIONS

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    Bruce,

    Frank William Burchell

    24 Dec 1913 b. Luton 3b 653 (probably)
    15 May 1941 Cmd Plt Off A&SD (66126) (aged 28?)
    15 May 1942 Prom Fg Off
    8 Jun 1944 Award MBE as A/Flt Lt
    25 May 1954 Relinquish ret Flt Lt
    Q3 1984 d. Luton 9 395 (probably)

    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thanks Peter, maybe a step closer to Jonny's question.

    Bruce
    http://www.filephotoservice.co.uk/
    RESEARCH AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES & OTHER UK INSTITUTIONS

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    Mmm (again), I'd be a millionaire if I believed all the stories told by someone who claimed to have witnessed something many years ago.

    Brian

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    Thanks chaps. I look forward to any other snippets that folk may have.

    As an aside, I am aware of a similar incident that, in the end, turned out for the best:

    B.E.M. London Gazette 22.8.1944 1444303 Corporal George Greenwood, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

    'In February, 1944, a Mosquito aircraft crashed and caught fire when approaching to land. The pilot was killed instantly but the observer was alive and rescue parties tried in turn to extricate him from the blazing wreckage. Party after party failed and each attempt became more difficult owing to the increasing heat of the fire in the cockpit area of the wreckage. Eventually, Squadron Leader Brown, the Station medical officer, and Corporal Greenwood made a final and desperate effort as the situation had become critical because the supplies of foam were exhausted temporarily and the fire remained unchecked for some minutes. If their effort failed it was clear that immediate amputation of the observer's leg was the only way by which he could be released. Displaying extreme courage, Squadron Leader Brown and Corporal Greenwood withstood the intense heat of the flames and, by the skilful use of the tools at their disposal, succeeded in breaking away the wreckage which was trapping the observer's leg. They then removed the airman to the ambulance. While first aid was being rendered, Squadron Leader Brown returned to the wreckage to make certain that the pilot was not alive. This officer and airman displayed outstanding courage and determination.'
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    The episode I related was very much like the one Jonny describes except it seems events unfolded much quicker. A Dakota veered off the strip, hit gasoline barrels and a fire started. The doctor got burned going into the Dak and had the trapped airman out, minus arm, within five minutes. The plane burned out. This happened in China on a strip hacked out of the bush.

    Bruce
    http://www.filephotoservice.co.uk/
    RESEARCH AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES & OTHER UK INSTITUTIONS

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