During this week we’ll be reminded of the sacrifices made by men and women during times of war. Our country will rightly remember their sacrifice.
I remember growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s. The adults around me told me stories of what they did in “the war”. Dad served in the Royal Navy, serving on HMS Apollo. He was off the coast of Normandy in June 1944, and the days that followed.
He told me about the time they took Eisenhower, Montgomery and Ramsey to have a look at the landing grounds and the ship ran aground. He made it sound funny but I bet somebody got a bollocking. When they moved to the Pacific he told me they used to sail between Australia and Japan taking booze and fags for the GIs
I had a couple of uncles who were in the army. One of them served in North Africa and then Italy. I’m not sure what the other one did, he never talked about it. I had two other uncles who worked in the pits and so they were in reserved occupations for the war effort.
Later on I worked with a guy called Harry who had served in Bomber Command on a Lancaster. He told me most of the time it was uneventful, but sometimes it was so scary he nearly shit himself. He watched planes falling out of the sky and just big flashes of light as something blew up miles away.
And then there was Juddy, a bricklayer I worked with. He served in the army. He was a hard man, but even he said when it’s completely dark and he was crawling towards the enemy with his knife and machine gun, he was scared stiff. He was one of the first British troops to land on the Normandy beaches, or so he said.
In the years after the war they went back to work. They were union men. Some of them were the miners that Thatcher called the enemy within. They had risked their lives and the Prime Minister called them the enemy.
Dad was always thankful that I had never had to go to war. So was I. He and the rest didn’t consider themselves heroes. They were all thankful that they survived and were able to live their lives long after the war ended. They never talked of glory or bravery, just relief when it ended and they were still alive.
One last thing. My grandmother’s first husband was killed in 1917 on the battlefields of France. She married again and had three sons and two daughters. One of her sons was my father.
Today I read of some guys taking a wreath on to the moors near Glossop at the site of a crashed Flying Fortress. We should all remember.
When you read the stories of “enemies within”, “enemies of promise” and “enemies of the people”, remember many of those “enemies” have a history of fighting and dying for their country.
Politicians like Thatcher, and the rest, soon forget that, but they are quite happy to turn up on Remembrance Day and bask in some perverted, reflected glory, for their own purposes.
Me, I’ve never had to go to war, or been under fire on a battlefield. For that I am very thankful. I remember what dad told me and respect those that fought and gave everything.
I have nothing but contempt for those hectoring, posturing press barons, with families who were friends of the man who my long, gone family fought a war against