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.
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the first landings at Gallipoli, where my grandfather was shot. It is a hauntingly beautiful place, untouched by time. Silence dominates and the well maintained graves of the war dead are in stark contrast to the wildness of the terrain. I'm pressing on with book No. 2, which is slowly evolving.
A word of thanks to those of you who purchased my father's book for Christmas. Happy Christmas to all.
These extracts are from my father's letters from Burma, 70 years ago:
A couple of nights ago when Japanese acceptance of peace terms became more than a possibility there was shouting and guns flying into the night. We thought at first that we were behind with the news but apparently we were not and I hardly dare think of what will happen if and when it does end. There has been so much speculation, especially the question “shall I be home for Xmas?” Never would I say morale has been so low – and yet so high!
Next morning we heard a salvo of 24 guns firing not far away. There were one or two faint-hearted cheers but mostly there was silence as if the total and complete realisation of the fact had not dawned upon them. To most you see, it meant that they would still be out here despite peace, world peace.
Ted finally arrived back in Southampton on 28 October.