WWII RAF hero proves war and marriage are not for the faint of heart

Blogger: GemSen RAF Bomber navigator, Jim Stafford, survived four wartime plane crashes during WWII and yesterday he also added 70 years of marriage to his achievements.
Joining up as a warrant officer in 1940, just after war had broken out, Mr Stafford embarked on a courageous military career and was an RAF serviceman based in Kent when he met his wife of 70 years at Welling Gospel Chapel in 1942. The pair were married in 1943, after Mr Stafford persuaded his superiors to give him two weeks leave. Taking part in many dangerous missions during the six-year conflict, the 96-year-old Mr Stafford rather amazingly walked away from four wartime plane crashes, and another one straight after the war. Apparently, a hydraulic fault caused one crash, while another three were all the consequence of the wheels failing to deploy and then causing crash landings. Not long after the war had ended Mr Stafford even had a fifth crash, which resulted after the aircraft ran out of petrol. Interviewed by the Daily Mail, Mr Stafford said:  “We were in Cumberland and were told to fly to Omagh in Northern Ireland and back again as part of a training exercise.” “But when we came back they told us to go back the other way around. We were just coming home when we ran out of petrol and had to crash land in the Lake District.” RAF Bomber Command successfully destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries notably in the Ruhr valley and many German cities including Cologne and Dresden in 1945. This was to disrupt industrial production of weapons, to weaken morale and to force the Germans onto the defensive — which was a crucial component in the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Flying in a British bomber during World War Two was not a job for the faint of heart, and it was one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable.  RAF aircrews responsible for this vital task faced some of the most terrifying combat conditions of WW2 yet had an average age of just 22, with the youngest scarcely 18. Around 55,000 aircrew died in raids over Europe between 1939 and 1945 — the highest loss rate of any major branch of the British armed forces. Reflecting on his time spent as an airman during war, Mr Stafford said it was the thought of his wife Betty that kept him going through the daring missions. Mrs Stafford told the newspaper: “Love got us through.” Source: Daily Mail Looking for more interesting wartime stories? Why not delve into our ‘historic documents’ library and read some of the interesting war diaries that we get sent – there’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war, as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there. Forces War Records are fortunate to receive such amazing real life war stories involving lashings of courage, and now you can read some of them – completely free of charge. Why not log on to Forces War Records and search our vast collection of records to find out more about your own ancestors  – there could be a war hero in your family just waiting to be discovered, and remembered...
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