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Ex-gunner recalls his lucky escape; NORTHFIELD: TELL US WHAT'SRon's bomber crash landing included in book of war memories.

Byline: By Catherine Lillington

A WORLD War II gunner who survived a crash landing in a frozen French forest has written a book about his memories of the conflict and life growing up in Ladywood.

Ron Needle, of Spiceland Road, Northfield, was one of two airmen who survived when their Lancaster Bomber fell from the skies, in January 1945.

The 81-year-old great-grandad crawled towards the sound of church bells in the distance and was eventually rescued ten hours later.

Frostbite had set in, causing his lower right leg to be amputated through gangrene, but Ron made it home to his sweetheart Sylvia, whom he married later that year.

He said: "All these thoughts flashed though my mind, but not once did I think I was going to die. I lay there for hours until daybreak, thinking of my past life.

"I was brought up in a slum area as the fourth oldest of 11 children. We had a good mother and father and a good family life. I was very lucky. We learned to share and respect others."

Ron started writing about his wartime experiences when he was 60 after a trip to France, where he was reunited with Andre, the bell ringer who saved his life.

When Ron was 80 he decided to turn his memoirs into a book by writing about the rest of his life. Ron, who used to work for Castle Bro-mwich firm Fisher & Ludlow and went to St Barnabus Infant School, then Osler Street Senior School, said: "Being carried to safety by Andre is probably the most poignant memory I have. "This is my family's history as well as a story for everyone. My daughters and grandchildren are really chuffed about it all."

His book, Saved By The Bell, is published by The Better Book Company.

It costs pounds 6.99 and can be bought from internet bookseller Amazon.

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Photosales No.: NP040107Lancaster-2' NOSTALGIC A-PEAL... Ron Needle with his memoir and (left) in his airforce days.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 8, 2007
Words:332
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