My stay in the hospital near Oxford was rather uneventful, but there are a few things that stick in memory. One was that we had the BBC radio on most of the day and it was very, very boring. Hardly any music but lengthy talk shows like Beekeepers From Devonshire or how the cheese is made and aged at Shropshire. Once in a while a real thriller about birdwatching or something similar.
I also remember that after some time when we could get a pass we would ride the bus into Oxford and see a movie.
We found that the bus schedule conflicted with the movie schedule and we missed the end of the movie in order to catch the last bus out to our area. We found that by taking a different route from the theater to another bus stop we could time it exactly right and get to see the end of the movie. We tried this out and it worked fine but was a close timing action.
The bus was a typical British bus, two levels with a platform with pole on the back. We got near the bus stop, saw the bus pull up and started to run for it yelling loudly. We got there just in time, grabbed the pole and swung onto the platform congratulating ourselves at the feat.
After sitting down for a while we started looking out the window and didn't see anything familiar. Sure enough we found that we had the wrong bus and got off out in the sticks about 10-11p.m. with no buses, no traffic, completely deserted territory.
We started walking back to town, got directions for the right route to the hospital and arrived there by foot (including trench foot) in the wee hours. Needless to say we had overstayed our pass, caused some consternation with the nurses and supervisor and that was our last evening trip to the movies.
We did, however, get to go sightseeing a couple of times to Oxford, including the school and it was interesting. There I remember a big dinning hall heated by one fireplace with a piece of coal, cherry red, about the size of a wheelbarrow, on the grate. Strange the things that stick in memory.
All of the trench foot patients were making progress. but not completely healed, when the Battle of the Bulge came along.
We were examined by a Dr. who worked out a method to measure our progress. He sat with a scalpel and took a foot in his lap and said "look the other way." While the patient had his head turned, the Dr ticked the scalpel point at various places on the toes and foot and if the patient winced, his feet were no longer numb, he was ready for rehabilitation.
The rehab was a couple of short hikes and then we were put back in the replacement stream going back to the continent. We wound up on a Polish ship that had been converted to a troop carrier and we had hammocks below decks. They apparently had schedules worked out to avoid the enemy and while the actual trip across the channel was relatively short, were on the ship long enough to get in the hammocks that night.
In the middle of the night the ship collided with another, with impact hard enough to shake some out of their hammocks and naturally some nut yelled, "Must be a torpedo!" so everybody rushed for the hatch to get to the deck. Fortunately no one was severely injured.
We went back to Southampton, they patched up the ship, and we went back across the channel to France. On this trip I also remember that they came on the audio system and announced that President Roosevelt had died and that Harry Truman was President.
The memory there is everyone saying: "Who the hell is Harry Truman?"