Britain’s ‘luckiest baby’ survived hospital Blitz attack that killed all the other kids


David Arnold was just three days old when a German bomb was dropped on Plymouth City Hospital killing 19 other children leaving him as the only child that survived

David Arnold and his wife Mavis Arnold on their 60th wedding anniversary
David Arnold as a baby after surviving a bomb attack at just three days old

Britain’s luckiest baby is still going strong 80 years after he survived a Second World War air raid on his hospital.

David Arnold was just three days old when a massive German bomb was dropped on Plymouth City Hospital in March 1941.

The Blitz raid, one of many to hit the vital sea port during the war, claimed the lives of 19 children and four nurses.

David was the only child to survive the bombing, after miraculously falling through the hospital floor.

Doctors and nurses had advised his mum Violet to take him to seek refuge in the children’s ward.

David Arnold is still going strong
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Image:

Mavis Arnold / SWNS)

But she decided to stay in maternity and placed David under a metal trolley just as the building collapsed.

Violet and her baby fell through the floor into the cellar and both survived as the building above them was destroyed.

David Arnold and his wife Mavis Arnold at the registry office
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Image:

Mavis Arnold / SWNS)

The only other survivors were two nurses – and David was dubbed the luckiest baby in Britain.

Everyone in the children’s ward, where Violet had been asked to take her son, died in the bombing.

She and David, whose crib was partially crushed by a boulder, were eventually rescued by firefighters.

David still lives in Plymouth, where he recently turned 80 and celebrated his 60th anniversary with wife Mavis.

The couple, who met when they were teenagers, have two children and three grandchildren.

Carpenter David said: “I do count my blessings. We are just basic ordinary people.”

David Arnold and his wife Mavis Arnold on their 60th wedding anniversary
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Image:

Mavis Arnold / SWNS)

Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, he added: “The last two years makes you realise how lucky we are.”

Mavis added: “They say that David was the luckiest man in Plymouth. Him and his mum fell through the floor.

“When they fell onto the debris below to the basement, they were next to hot water pipes that could have burst at any point. Him, his mum and two other nurses were all that survived.

“All the children’s ward was wiped out. It was horrendous really, so I’m very lucky to still have him here.”

David’s sister, Marion, who was just six at the time, was being looked after by her aunt during the air raids.

His daughter Mandy said in a 2016 interview: “Dad always looked like such an angry baby.

“We think that must have been down to the turbulent time he had at birth.”

Violet suffered from post-natal depression following the traumatic birth but later recovered.

Mavis recalled: “When Violet used to tell this story you could see she used to get upset, she would have a tear in her eye.

“She could remember the planes coming over and firing above.

“She was a really happy soul and I think it may have stemmed from the war because they went through such bad times.”

Violet went on to live a long and happy life before dying, aged 98, in 2009.




www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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