WAR hero Wilfred Davis-on, who faced enemy tanks at the Battle of the Bulge during the Second World War, had to be rescued after getting lost in the dark on his mobility scooter while trying to find his way home from a medical appointment.
The widower was sent away by Devizes Hospital staff when he turned up there for a chest X-ray on Thursday.
He had to find his way his way alone to Green Lane – but by the time he got there on his scooter it was almost dark and the centre was nearly closed.
He said: “Fortunately, a receptionist saw me and let me in and took me to the X-ray department where I met a pleasant gentleman who was preparing to close down.
“He offered me a seat and five minutes later returned and carried out the X-ray.”
But when he left the roads were in darkness and he became lost.
He said: “It was dark, although the street lights showed increased traffic, and it was even more nerve-racking to get around the roundabout.
“I must have taken the wrong exit. I was passing the lights of Wiltshire Waste recycling depot and I saw the stone monument ahead – I was on my way to Andover.”
His scooter then began slowing down, indicating he was getting low on charge, and he took refuge in the recycling depot.
The staff welcomed him in and depot manager Paul Mortimer offered to take Capt Davison home and bring him back the following morning to pick up his scoooter.
Mr Mortimer had it fully charged for when Capt Davison could collect it.
Capt Davison said: “This is what happened to a foolish old man of 91 who didn’t know the length of Nursteed Road. And I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the staff at Wiltshire Waste for their sympathetic help beyond their call of duty.”
Mr Mortimer, manager of Wiltshire Waste’s transfer station at Monument Hill, said: “It was the sort of thing anyone would have done.
“The gentleman is a very independent-minded person who felt he could get to the treatment centre but he lost his way on the way back.
“My colleague Marcus Grist saw his battery was going flat so we brought him in, warmed him up in the office then Marcus took him home and picked up the charger so we could charge up his scooter again.”
Neither NHS Wiltshire nor the Great Western Hospital NHS Trust, which runs services at Devizes Hospital, would accept responsibility for packing Captain Davison off on his odyssey.
A spokesman for NHS Wiltshire said: “It was not the PCT’s staff who sent him off in the wrong direction – since 2010 staff working in community hospitals such as Devizes have been employed by Great Western Hospital, who have also managed the community hospitals themselves.”
A spokesman for Great Western Hospital said: “In this instance then I think it would be the responsibility of the person who called to ask him to attend the Treatment Centre to ensure he has directions and can get there.”
While serving in a French village in the Ardennes, in January 1945, Capt Davison and his platoon protected a strategic crossroads from German tanks for a week until relief arrived.
He was presented with the Croix de Guerre by the French government and a knighthood from the Belgian government.