New Year, new hope. A wish for us all.
In Calcutta 75 years ago today, Ted noted in his diary:
'At 8.15 we hear a salvo of 24 guns - what we have been waiting for - for so long. My thoughts are at home and Peggy (his pen friend, later this wife). Wait till 3.45 before leave chit. Weather pretty bad. Go to pictures to see 'Double Indemnity'. But what a VJ Day!'
The next day the 'big rush' started, securing clearances, signatures and kit after word was received of an imminent return home. But that return was not achieved until November 1945.
These were Ted's words from India on the momentous occasion of VE Day:
'I suppose there are events in everyone’s life that at one time or another prove to be a milestone or turning point for no better reason than intuition; speaking for myself, yet another has been added. The news that came over the air yesterday morning at 7.30, news which we had been anticipating for so long and yet somehow still left us wondering whether it was really true. Not that there was any doubt in our minds (oh dear, no!) but the anti-climax meant so much to us that one thought alone was insufficient to cover the multitude of thoughts concerning our loved ones at home. Indeed, the reaction is altogether a most complicated one and what with the war with Japan being lengthened by one day in celebration (today we are ‘off’) the importance of events is to some extent anyway, brought home.
At 7.30 last night or as Big Ben chimed his third stroke in London, we listened to Churchill’s speech. A small radio in the middle of a large tent was the centre of attraction, surrounded by a mass of cheery but sweating faces. As if the radio apprehended the importance of the situation, it behaved perfectly and all but Churchill’s slightly distorted voice could be heard. True it wasn’t flowery in its eloquence or boastful in its message, but the sober account of the Treaty was spoken, I thought not without a certain feeling. For him I am sure it was the greatest moment of his life – of any man’s life to convey a message that was the breath of life to suffering humanity.'
24th July this year will mark the centenary of my father’s birth. The book is progressing well and has become part of my life... a gratifying one. Much done, much to do. The pace is stepping up.
My father laying Watford & District's Royal Air Forces Association wreath at Watford Heath memorial in the mid-1990s.
Last night's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall included clips from the Battles of Imphal and Kohima 75 years ago. 113 Squadron, of which my father was a member, supported the troops from the air.
The Kohima Epitaph, at the bottom of Garrison Hill, site of one of the bloodiest battles in World War II, was read out during the televised service:
'When You Go Home, Tell Them of Us and Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.'
Few words, many lives. Lest we forget.
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month World War I ended. Lest we forget.
The 1916 Hudson trench whistle was amongst my grandfather's keepsakes from World War I. Hear it in the video.
Union Jack Handkerchief
His Union Jack handkerchief c1915 has banners on the sides that read:
Our King and Country
Faithful to the Flag
Defence not Defiance
We will remember them.
One hundred years ago today the Hundred Days Offensive began on the Western Front. It led to the end of World War I.
Here's to a happy 2018. With New Year resolutions in mind, I will be well occupied with the new book. Beginning in 1890 in Richmond, Surrey and ending in 1997 in Watford, there are many years and much ground to cover.
Just returned from extensive travels across India, exploring places that my father and grandfather knew from their time in the services. In addition, in the far north-eastern states of Manipur and Nagaland, there were battlefields, military cemeteries, memorials, museums, tribespeople... all with a bearing on my research for the book... an altogether overwhelming and moving experience.
Special thanks to Yaiphaba (Yai) Kangjam of Battle of Imphal Tours, a most capable and knowledgeable guide (and not forgetting his skilful driver, Tutu); and my husband Bob for his patient planning and delivery of this unique and memorable trip.
Another year passes into history. 2017 promises to be even busier with the new book. Much to consider.