It’s Remembrance day tomorrow, it happens to be a Sunday. I always preferred it when they marked Remembrance on Nov 11th, whatever the day of the week it was. The traffic in Central London always stopped at 11 o’clock for the minute’s silence, shopkeepers stopped serving, people stood still in the street, children of course asked why, and were told to ‘shh’ and the reason explained afterwards. It was all very moving.
My children and grandchildren have never experienced living in this country at war thank goodness. I was born in Middlesex Hospital in the middle of an air-raid at the beginning of the second world war and have only vague recollections of my mother’s endless anxiety, in my early years. My father finally returning from active service when I was six. But I can still remember as a child my grandfather’s endless coughing from gas and shell shock from the Great War.
My mother and I, in her later years, just walked round to the little war memorial in Woodside Village on the edge of Croydon, to see the procession from the local church and watch them lay their wreath. One day she went ahead of me and, when I got there I couldn’t see her, but saw an old lady in a black coat leaning on a wall weeping uncontrollably, I went over, put my arm round her, only to discover it was my own mother!
She never ever forgot the blitz in London, all the mothers and babies being taken down at night to an air raid shelter in Middlesex Hospital, the threat of bombing on our house in London. Her sister-in-law losing her new home in a night-time raid. Her mother damaging her back for life, from falling bricks. My mother always had had to carry gas masks where ever she went, in my sister and my pram – So to Brighton mothers with their Princess buggies on the bus, ‘think on’ as my granny used to say.
Most of our cousins and uncles returned fortunately, some had medals for bravery, others had just done there best, and one was ‘marked for life’ from the effect of being a prisoner of war.
So today I’ll put up my film about Henry Allingham – it’s a timely reminder of what it was like at the sharp end! Please press arrow in centre of the picture to see the film.
At the end of the day wars are all about sacrifice, generation after generation, with nothing much learned and nothing much changed unfortunately.
With that thought in mind, I am adding my ‘Battle of Culludon’ film to this post. It’s a very short one! Please press the arrow in the centre of the picture to see the film.
‘The Skye Boat Song’ is performed by a little group of woman and one man, in Croydon about ten years ago. At first none of us believed we could sing, but we set up a kitty and had a teacher once a month. After roughly year, we started to sing in old peoples homes and eventually, some kind person offered us half an hour to make a cd in his studio and for free! ‘The Skye Boat Song’ was one of the songs. Soon afterwards I went to Scotland for the first time and sought out the site of the battle
On a more cheerful note, this photo has just emerged from a box of achive pictures, one of several taken by us on the set of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ on Brighton’s West Pier in the 60’s. This film has been re-released on DVD. I hope one day our marionettes are invited to be put on display, maybe somewhere like Brighton’s Museum and Art Gallery would be appropriate.
So that’s today’s stories! I wonder if anyone will read them on a post with such a somber title? But if you do, don’t forget to dig deep into your pocket and buy a poppy. The British Legion does some great work and it’s the least we can do for the current generation of service men and women.