The amazing campaign to save an RAF hero's seriously ill son as he took part in Second World War bombing raids
A Second World War veteran has thanked a charity for saving his seven-month-old son while he was serving in the RAF.
It is 75 years since Tom Davidson was told that his baby boy Peter had bronchial pneumonia. He was on duty in Egypt when he received ‘very distressing’ airmails to tell him the news.
But the Armed Forces charity SSAFA ensured Peter got the right medication such as penicillin which had only just become available to the public.
SSAFA also got Tom home from Egypt quickly. Meanwhile back in England, the charity supported his wife Mary who was ‘having sleepless nights with worry’.
Tom, 97, from Washington, said: “The speed of the service from SSAFA was absolutely fantastic, especially in 1946, recovering from wartime and when we couldn’t access all the technology we have today.
“For the next two weeks, because Peter was so unwell, Mary and I used to phone the hospital at 8 o'clock in the morning. Visit him at 10am. Phone at 12pm, visit at 2pm, phone at 4pm, visit 6pm.
"I remember a nursing sister waiting for us one day. I can't remember her exact words, but it was something like, 'Mr and Mrs Davidson, don't hold out much hope for your little boy. He's in a very, very poorly condition.'
“We were in touch with SSAFA the whole time, and fortunately Peter pulled through. We were told that penicillin had saved his life. It had just become available to the public on the NHS, but was not readily in use, reserved mainly for the forces.
"I believe SSAFA were instrumental in making sure Peter had access to the right medication. There are no words to describe how it made us feel to know he would be okay.”
Tom survived life-or-death dramas himself on bombing raids during the Second World War. The former Flight Engineer volunteered at a time when the RAF was suffering heavy losses, including Tom’s only brother Frankie.
His own plane was hit. He recalled: “When we arrived back to our Squadron and off the plane, we saw that there was a hole in our port wing, the size of a house door!
"Ground crew informed us that there were 33 flak holes in the plane. How none of systems or crew members had been hit was a miracle.”
After demobbing in 1947, Tom had ‘a great career in industry and finished up as a college lecturer.”
He added: “I look at my family, my son and his children and their children and I often think that things would have been so different if we hadn’t had so much help and Peter hadn’t got better. I have the most incredible family and had the most wonderful life with Mary before she died seven years ago.
"Family makes life all that more worth living. I'm often told I am such a happy looking man, and that’s why I call myself a millionaire.”
Peter, meanwhile, went on to have – and still enjoys – a very happy life.
He has been married for 50 years, with 2 children and 3 grandchildren. He has a very successful business career, whilst devoting much time and effort contributing to the community he lives in and is still very much involved in aged 75.