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WWII Hero Almost Buried At Sea Celebrates 100th Birthday

WWII Hero Almost Buried At Sea Celebrates 100th Birthday

Harry Oxman's life almost ended in tragedy back in 1944

A pensioner who was seconds away from being buried at sea has remarkably just celebrated his 100th Birthday.

Aged 22, Harry Oxman had contracted malaria while serving with the RAF in WWII in Africa.

The retired shipyard worker Harry, of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, went into a coma and crew prepared a body bag to throw him overboard.

Not to mention, a vicar even read him the last rites at sea.

However, just as he was about to be thrown overboard, he coughed.

It turns out that cough saved his life.

Although, his wife Vera was instructed to come to the ship and collect his belongings.

But when she got there she was hugely delighted to find Harry being still alive.

North News

Despite his life being saved, Harry remained ill with malaria for five years and it took him that long to recover.

To keep busy, he played badminton, tennis, allotment gardening and took up swimming.

Eventually he began finally flying again with the Newcastle gliding club.

He then went back after the war to his job as a draughtsman in the shipyards, before taking early retirement.

His granddaughter Sophie Butler said: "He often tells his family 'I am still breathing so today is a good day'."

Harry added: "I was in a coma for two days. When I pulled out, the medical officer said 'I was certain you were dying'."

He said the crew was told to prepare a bag and chains to 'throw me overboard'."

Sophie, who was planning to travel from Manchester to surprise her granddad with a birthday cake, added: "He still does his own gardening and that's what keeps him going. He plays chess as well. He has had an amazing life."

North News

Harry has 13 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, with an 8th great grandchild on the way.

The former pilot was born in 1922 in Sunderland. His dad, Bernard Oxman, was an aircraft fitter and Harry loved learning about planes.

In the Second World War, Harry signed up and joined the RAF in November 1940, aged just 18. He started as a trainee 2nd pilot in Feb 1941 and had to move to Blackpool.

He joined the Mosquito fighter planes and was assigned as a navigator for the Sunderland Flying Boat.

Once trained he was dispatched to the West Coast of Africa in August 1941. He was on submarine patrol and he would fly up to the north near Free Town and down to the south at the Belgium Congo taking out enemy submarines.

Harry's war ended when he became seriously ill, but his love of flying continued at Usworth after his recovery from malaria.

He even broke a duration record for a thermal flight in a glider of 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Harry had five children and unfortunately lost his wife Vera, who he'd married in 1943, in 2008 and his only daughter, Sheila, to a brain tumour in 2014.

Featured Image Credit: North News

Topics: UK News, World War 2