A FORMER Home Guard volunteer was given a huge shock this week when he read in The Press that he should have been killed 65 years ago.

Dennis Joseph Durkin, of Bad Bargain Lane, York, made the frightening discovery that the tower he was standing on during a Luftwaffe raid in 1942 was the number one target of German pilot Willi Schludecker.

Now aged 83, Mr Durkin has spoken of his enormous relief that Mr Schludecker had such a bad aim.

He said: "I didn't realise until this week that the gasometer I was up had been one of the targets on that night.

"It makes me feel very lucky and I'm so grateful that he missed his target. Now I have four daughters and lots of little grand children and great grandchildren, and all that wouldn't have been possible if he'd hit his target."

Mr Durkin, who was a 17 year-old volunteer in the Home Guard on the night of April 29, 1942, was stationed at the top of the York gasometer to spot any black-out offenders.

He said: "Me and my friend were up the top of the gasometer with binoculars looking for lights so we could report them to the black-out wardens.

"When we were up there, we heard a plane go over the city and then heard it come back. It must have got through the system because the air raid sirens hadn't gone off.

"When the bomb was dropped it shook the whole tower.

"It was very near. I had to phone down to say where I thought it had landed and then we were told to get down as soon as possible.

"I just keep thinking how lucky we were. And it's not just me and my friend - if that gasometer had been hit I think the whole of York would have been destroyed."

Mr Durkin went on to serve with the army in the Far East, before returning to York to work as an antiques dealer.

He said: "I lost a lot of friends in the war.

If they did come back, they came back wounded and died at very young ages."