Pattle Family 2
At the same time that I was living through this nightmare, my parent were at home becoming increasingly concerned about me being so late. They knew that because of the fog the trains would be running very late, but as time ticked on they began to worry more. Suddenly a newsflash came on the TV stating that there had been a train crash on the Fenchurch Street line and they knew I was on one of the trains involved. We didn’t have a telephone very few people did in those days, so they were at a loss to know just what to do. Dad was about to go to the police or railway station, Mum would keep going to the front gate to listen for me coming up the road, with my high heel tapping on the pavements, asking everyone that passed have you seen Jean. When a knock came on the door. Two policemen stood there, to inform my parent that I had been involved in the accident, that I’d been taken to Oldchurch Hospital, Romford. They had no knowledge of the extent of my injuries and because of my young age, they needed a consent form signed for the hospital, so I could be given an aesthetic. With no idea what was wrong with me and why I needed an operation made my parent fearful that I may have lost a limb or limbs. They were almost out of there minds with worry with no way to find out anything.
My boyfriend Ron, who lived on Canvey Island saw the newsflash and decided to make his way to my home to see that I was OK. He managed to get a bus off the Island to Benfleet Station to find that all the trains had stopped because of the crash. By luck another traveller said he had a car and was going most of the way to Laindon he would give Ron a lift. On arrival he found everyone in a state of confusion. The police had just left and Dad was trying to work out just how to get mum and him to the hospital. My uncle Stan (Quinton) then arrived, he came to see if I had got home as he thought I may be on one of the trains. Ron and Stan thought they may get a bus or a lift to Romford on the A127, so decided to try. Well as luck had it they managed to stop a car, the driver was a newspaper reporter on his way to the hospital to get the story. When he heard they had someone involved he willingly gave them a lift all the way. It was a dreadful night to be driving in the fog, but they made it.
With the bell ringing I made the ride in the ambulance to the hospital. Another lady had travelled with me, it was one of the ladies with the chocolate. She kept asking about her friend, the ambulance attendant didn’t have any news of her. I couldn’t tell her that her friend had been pulled from the carnage when they were trying to free me, I’d heard the fireman say she was dead. I just couldn’t stop the tears.
As I was freed from the wreckage, the springs from the seat I was crushed in had hit me in the face, by the time the doctors came to see me my face was so swollen that I couldn’t see out of my eyes. I’d had also bitten through my tongue which was very swollen, so I couldn’t get the doctor to understand me when I tried to talk. This meant I had to write best I could lying down my name and address so they knew who I was. My clothes were all cut away from my body to see the extent of my injuries. I had a large piece of British Rail wood 6in by 4in wedged into the calf of my leg, that needed immediate attention, as well as cleaning up other cuts on my legs and feet. I kept trying to tell them that my back hurt, but nobody seemed to listen. I was examined and given an injection for the pain. Then things get very fuzzy, I was wheeled along a corridor to the operating theatre, where nurses and doctors spoke to me, saying as they put a rubber mask over my face you will go to sleep now. I remember gulping in the gas from the mask, just wanting to go to sleep and end this horror I was living through.
It was the next day I was xrayed and the full extent of my injuries found. My spine was very badly broken, it was thought I would never walk again. I spent months in hospital, then almost a year in a plaster cast from my neck to my knees. The road to recovery was very long. I did learn to walk again, but my life would never be the same. The constant pain and difficulty walking has meant I could never do things as before. With constant hospital visits and operations on my spine life has not been easy for me since that fateful night, but I did survive and others sadly didn’t.