Friday, November 11, 2005


I was going to blog about how knackered and grumpy and dissatisfied I am right now--Thursdays do that to me, and this Thursday was worse than usual. I can't get to write, my kids are cheeky or plain old demanding, I'm cold and I can't shake the sniffles. We have no money and the sky is falling in. And then I realised it is Remembrance Day.

My dad is a military and history buff, who was in the parachute regiment as a young man. I grew up watching war movies and history programs and being barraged with the knowledge he'd gained from historic accounts, plus hearing his own memories of the war from the perspective of a young boy. Both my grandfathers served during the war, as did my granny--she lost her brother Alf, whom she was very close to, and I believe he's buried in MonteCasino. My parents have my uncle Charlie's letters from WWII. I've thought several times about turning them into a book, but my mother is reluctant to release them, even to me. I don't blame her--they're precious.

My husband's grandfather was a Captain during the war and my m-i-l has treasured trench maps and a diary of his everyday life.

I love listening to my grandad retell some of his experiences--especially the ones where he caught his soldiers doing something they shouldn't.

He's 5'6" and shrinking and was a Sergeant Major with the Royal Artillary. He saw my mother for 48 hours when she was a newborn and didn't see her again till she was two & a half years old. She cried the whole time he was on leave and he said he was glad to get back to his regiment. He's 84 now--nearly 85. He's stone deaf (probably because of the big guns) and you have to shout to have him hear. He plays Bingo twice a week and loves to travel. Because he's deaf he shouts too, and a couple of years ago, he climbed out of our car, waved at a German guy who bravely lives in our hometown and whispered, 'I SHOT SOME OF HIS COMPATRIATS IN THE WAR.' hmm... European union?

Another weird/scary fact was Hitler's plans to make Bridgnorth his HQ, and therefore my hometown Nazi central. So winning WWII wasn't just an intangible victory for my grandad and all his buddies--he truly saved his future family from a bloody terrible regime.

My daughter was being taught about soldiers and war at kindergarten. It made me sad to think she's old enough to begin to understand man's inhumanity to man.

God bless the soldiers who serve and those who who die serving. Next time I imagine I'm having a tough day, I'll try to remember...


  1. Toni, THANK YOU for this lovely tribute. I loved reading your family stories.

  2. I had 12 veterans of WWII, my father was in North Ireland. We enjoyed hearing their stories too.

  3. The last sentiment couldn't be said better. Thanks.

  4. With never ending thanks we honor those who fought for our freedom.

  5. Amen.

    We MUST tell our children, less they forget.

  6. Ditto.

    Truely unimaginable how different life would have been if Hitler had been the Victor.....

    Funny isn't it how small the gesture but great the respect for Remembrance day. I was in a Wool Shop in Wellington yesterday at 11:00 (11th day at the 11th hour) and still stopped still for the two minutes silence - that from me is a feit in itself!!


  7. Deb--what the heck were you doing in a wool shop?? And keeping still? Lord a double miracle!
    It is lovely to see the respect being paid to the soldiers. DH went to the university service and said he had a tear in his eye. He's pretty much a softy. Makes my heart glad he hasn't had to go off to war, and thankful for those who do.

  8. I got a letter from my cousin in Iraq yesterday. It was nice to hear from him. I really worry about him.

  9. Eve, that must be hard. Nice to hear from him though!!