Express & Star

Wolverhampton ex-RAF man hopes book can help heal

It was more than half a century ago that Wolverhampton ex-serviceman John Roberts was involved in a devastating motorbike accident that led to years of trauma.

John Roberts with his book

Now he has written a self-help guide aimed at the families of sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD).

Mr Roberts was just 21 when his motorbike was involved in a collision whilst on duty in Aden, south Yemen, in which a young boy was killed.

The RAF air camera fitter, himself injured in the crash, was held responsible for the death of the child, the son of a leader of the Federation for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen, whom the British were fighting.

After several months he was exonerated of any blame but the mental scars of the incident stayed with him. He turned to drink, his marriage broke down and he tried two or three times to commit suicide.

Mr Roberts, of Sandwell Road, Fordhouses, was eventually helped by a book about PTSD written by an ex-policeman, recognising his own symptoms in the author's descriptions of the condition.

He said: "There was no help back then. I used to put myself in situations where I had a good chance of getting killed, like racing cars, flying, anything to give me a buzz and keep me going.

"There were no drugs but I drank a lot. I suffered from dark moods and used to overreact to situations. It derailed my first marriage because my wife couldn't understand why I was like that."

The 76-year-old became a drama therapist and a counsellor specialising in PTSD. His book, Trauma In The Family, published by Author House, was written as a guide for families of sufferers.

He said: "It's meant to educate the wives and children of people with PTSD because unless they understand why their partner acts like they do, relationships will continue to founder."