Roger Howe lost his left leg below the knee when his pushchair was blown off the Whangarei railway station platform by a strong gust of wind, and under a moving train.

That was 70 years ago on May 1, 1946, when he was only 3 and had just got off a train from Paparoa with his mother for a day's shopping in Whangarei.

Now 73 and living in Papakura in Auckland, Mr Howe returned to the railway station seven decades later on May 1 - exactly the same date and time as the accident - to commemorate that fateful day.

But Mr Howe says he has scant recollection of what happened that day.


"Doctors and nurses expected me to die because I had lost so much blood and what have you, but I fooled them.

"When they pulled me out from under the train, I turned white," he said on the platform of the station.

An electrical linesman risked his own life by jumping from the platform and dragging the toddler from danger.

However, one wheel of the carriage had already run over the boy's leg, which had to be amputated. His mother gave a pint of blood for a transfusion to save his life.

Despite the tragedy, Mr Howe never feared trains and even worked on Auckland suburban trains as a guard and later as a driver until his retirement in 2011.

"It's easy to have a phobia of trains after what happened to me but my mum encouraged me not to as I liked trains," he said.

"I am actually a train enthusiast who likes chasing a train, who likes riding on them. Call me a freak or what you like."

The Whangarei railway station, he said during his visit last Sunday, had not changed much although his memory of the place and its surrounds is what he remembers as a 3-year-old.

Trains are in his family blood.

Dad Norman Howe worked as a track maintenance worker in Paparoa until 1948 when the family, originally from Woodcocks in Helensville, moved to Glen Eden," he said.

Mr Howe landed his first job at the train company Otahuhu Workshop's office before securing a position as a guard on-board trains in 1993, and then a driver.

These days, Mr Howe carries out crime watch patrols in Papakura twice a month and reckons he can do almost anything an able-bodied person can do.

"The only thing I can't do is stand in waist-deep water. But there are other people who are worse off than me."