Friday, 6 June 2014

Lest we forget...

Bayeux Commonwealth War Cemetery
Today is the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the photo to the right is one I took while on a research trip to Normandy. The reason why was because my PhD novel included a school trip to the Normandy beaches. I did a huge amount of research into the D-Day landings at the time and the reason why was because of my mother. She had told me tales of the night before the D-Day Landings where she had handed out sweets and cigarettes to the soldiers waiting to embark. At the time she was a WRN at HMS Daedalus near Lee on Solent. She said you couldn't see the grass for soldiers and you couldn't see the sea for ships.

The Second World War is actually very important to me. Both my parents were part of it. I was an accident and my mother was told I was the menopause - yeah right! As I said my mother was a WRN and as she admitted herself she had a 'good' war and would often regale both myself and my children with tales of her life. Don't get me wrong she also saw some horrendous things - the bombing of St George's chapel for example but she also got thrown over a wall after getting back after curfew.  My Father was an officer in the Parachute Regiment. He rarely spoke about it. I knew he always jumped wearing a white silk scarf and carrying a walking stick but his tales to me were always quite glib. There were the tales of him being dropped accidentally the wrong side of the lines and my grandmother 'seeing him' when she was in church one Sunday wandering up and down the alter. Later they worked out it was at the time he was lost. The tale he and Anthony Farrar Hockley told me of how they won the war together when I was small - I was very gullible then. However, last year when speaking to my brother I heard for the first time the tales he had told him and they were very different. I had always had my suspicions but my father had come very close to death. I knew he had killed people but I also knew he did not want to discuss it. Understandably so, why would you want to glorify it by talking about it. He was a proud man with principles. He wasn't part of the D-Day Landings, he was in Italy at the time.

It seems that the Second World War has found its way into most of my stories and perhaps that is why I am enjoying writing my current WIP so much because it is based in that period. It is an important time that we must not forget. So many gave up so much for us so we could have our freedom. There are times when I look around and I do wonder if we are beginning to forget as people stamp on others but I have to hope that goodness will win out in the end. It is important for us as a family that we don't let their stories go and disappear into the ether. I cannot forget that there were others in our family who also served and whose stories we must also remember. We were lucky everyone came home but they all knew a lot of people that didn't. Both my parents came from the same place - Croydon. They knew whole families who were decimated by war. As a member of the baby boomer generation - just - we are so lucky and long may that last. There have been other wars since then obviously which again members of my family have been involved in and survived luckily.  May our children never have to face a World War and may my parents be the last to face such a thing.

This in a way is a very personal post which I hope you will forgive and this piece of music is because my parents loved it as does my brother

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