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Don Bennett's War

Chapter 34 - Air Raids & Christmas


One evening about ten o'clock, we heard an air raid siren and the whole hospital was blacked out. We heard a couple of planes start diving and soon heard anti-aircraft fire and then a couple bombs go off. Some of the fellows who could walk, hobbled to the bathroom where more protection was offered. I didn't try for it hurt too much to move. I could hear the planes and so their machine gun fire as they continued their strafing of the hospital. A few minutes later we heard a crash and saw the sky light up - our anti-aircraft had downed one of the planes. The other plane then left. We were told the next morning that no real damage was done - cracked walls, and only little injury - two German P.O.W. s who were attached to the hospital were wounded.

Letter writing was quite difficult at first, but managed to get a few v-mail letters sent home as soon as I could sit up to write. It took quite a while as writing left handed was slow. I waited very impatiently and longingly for the letters from home to catch up with me. About Christmas time a few began to come in and my spirits were lifted. A little while later, packages began to arrive, including a box of figs and other dried fruit from Babe - They were all good medicine.

Christmas time was looked upon with mixed emotions. It was just another day, until some French girls brought in a tree, decorated it with a few homemade ornaments, and passed out small stockings. with candy in them. It wasn't much like the usual Christmas, but the French tried to lift our morale with what little they had to share. It even snowed a little that Christmas day.

The day after Christmas, they operated on my arm, mainly to remove the many pieces of bone (some infected) and shrapnel from my elbow. They gave me Pentothal instead of ether this time, which was much easier to take. I awoke a little drunk, however, and was told I cussed one of the nurses. My body cast had been removed and I now only had a cast up to my shoulder. It was a relief to have it off my back, but the freer movement caused my arm to hurt more.

A point missed above was the transfusions of whole blood I was given my first day in the hospital. I was given two quarts of Boston blood. It took a long time to run in, but my color returned to my body afterwards.

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