One minute you’re alive and the next minute you’re floating through space and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know the game is over but you don’t know whether you’re going to live or die, and that was the main fear of most of anybody that flew, was dying.
After being shot down on a bombing raid and interned as a Prisoner of War, William Mills began a letter exchange with a woman who would later become his wife.
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Escaping from his aircraft after it was shot down over Europe
Well, it’s sort of... a lot of it’s a blank because I can’t remember exactly every little detail of that, and I think hardly anybody can because it all happened so darn fast. Our biggest thing was trying to get out, get down to ground safely; that was the thing. Remember, there were seven of us in the little place; you never saw where the other people are going because you’ve got seven individuals going out at the same time.
And I, as my daughter will tell you, I talked to all the families after the war; I talked to all of my crew - my crew was seven - and I’ve talked to all of them and they honestly can’t remember anything more either. It’s hard for you realise that things happen very fast - one minute you’re alive and the next minute you’re floating through space and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know the game is over but you don’t know whether you’re going to live or die, and that was the main fear of most of anybody that flew, was dying.
Life as a Prisoner of War
We were allowed... the Germans were the enemy but we were allowed to write letters so often on a special form. You know, you couldn’t write 40 pages or anything; it was a special thing they had. And of course, that was done - if you had written anything they didn’t think... because it went off through their sensors; they had that if they wanted to look through it. But that was one thing; that was all put on by the Red Cross.
I was writing to a girl at the time and she was from a little town too, and told me about what was going on there, which I could associate with, you see, which makes it easier. I knew everything that was going on because from the little town that she lived in and around, she told me all that stuff. So when I got out and that I knew practically what was... you know, what was going on in the outside world. The outside world, I say, because we were locked up; it’s quite a difference.