Today (September 13th) is Roald Dahl Day where his writing work is celebrated – but did you know he would have been eligible for Help for Heroes support as he was injured in the Royal Air Force?
In September 1939, following the outbreak of the Second World War, Roald Dahl enlisted in the RAF at 23 years old.
In letters to his family whilst in training Dahl described flying as “marvellous fun” and when he described his service said: “For the first time in my life, I became totally absorbed in what I was doing. I floated back in time and once again I was in the sizzling hot desert of Libya, with white sand underfoot, climbing up into the cockpit…”
He travelled to Iraq for Advanced Training and was then commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve and posted to 80 Squadron based in North Africa.
In September 1940, Roald's Gladiator crashed in the Western Desert of North Africa and he received severe injuries to his head, nose and back.
Following this, he was taken to the Anglo-Swiss Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt where he spent around six months recovering from his injuries, under the care of the hospital staff.
Dahl continued his service as an intelligence officer in Washington DC and served with the Air Force until 1946 but continued to suffer from headaches from his plane crash 6 years ago and he was medically invalided.
After he left, he met with C.S. Forester who was writing a piece on the war and needed further information. When Dahl handed in his notes, Forester let Roald tell the piece in his own words rather than writing the article himself. This piece of work was Dahl’s first published work and was called “Shot down over Libya”.
This is when he discovered he had a talent for writing. He continued writing other stories and sold over 250 million copies in his lifetime.
Veterans using creative writing in their Recovery
Many of our beneficiaries have used creative writing to help them in their recovery. Help for Heroes offers a range of creative courses and activities to support those affected by their service find a new regain their purpose and reach their potential.
Including Roy Taylor who writes poetry to this day to speak about his service and other life experiences.
Roy served in the Royal Navy and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2010.
“Writing helped my recovery because I sometimes find it easier to express my feeling and emotions using the written word rather than the spoken word.
Photo Credit: RoaldDahl.com