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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 02:32 GMT 03:32 UK
Surviving a kamikaze attack
Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo
Kamikaze pilots are deified at the Yasukuni shrine

Leslie Lumber has never truly recovered from his wartime experiences, the most traumatic of which was when his ship was attacked by kamikaze planes.

Leslie Lumber
Leslie Lumber has never truly got over his wartime experiences
Mr Lumber, now 80, was wounded by shrapnel but was saved from death when he was buried under the dead bodies of six of his comrades.

The attack took place in the Leyte Gulf off the Philippines on 9 April 1945.

"I was operating the catapult, which fired the planes off, and these planes started coming in and the next thing I know there was an explosion and I was underneath six others. They saved me," said Mr Lumber.

He spent months in an Australian hospital but although his wounds healed he was emotionally scarred.


They were just doing their job. You can't blame anybody because it was war.

Leslie Lumber, British war veteran

After the war he came home to his wife but was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and was unable to hold a job down.

He has suffered from nightmares and flashbacks for years and is still on medication for his nerves.

But Mr Lumber, from Bridgewater, Somerset, has no bitterness towards the suicide pilots.

"They were just doing their job. You can't blame anybody because it was war."

HMS Illustrious at full steam
Mr Lumber was serving on board HMS Illustrious İFleet Air Arm

He said: "For them it was a disgrace for the pilot to go home. Once they had picked out a ship that was it."

Earlier this year Mr Lumber lost a High Court claim against the Ministry of Defence for a backdated pension.

He told BBC News Online: "I applied for a pension in 1968 but they turned it down. They did it again in 1983. Then in 1992 they gave me one, but they wouldn't backdate it to 1968."

See also:

07 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
30 Apr 02 | England
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