Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SIX LONG YEARS

Story Contd

Six long years and then on the 8th of May 1945 Victory in Europe was declared. Unconditional surrender by the Germans to the Allies.

At last we could rip down the black-out curtains. No more bombs or doodle bugs. No more make do and mend and dreary utility clothes - life could only get better. We listened to Churchill’s speech praising the Allies for their fight against ‘the evil doers’. Good had triumphed over evil and it was time to rejoice.

In the evening Maddie and I went to a neighbouring town, closely followed by the aunts, and joined the flag-waving crowds, singing and dancing ‘The Hokey Cokey’ and ‘The Lambeth Way’ happy just to be part of the milling crowds. It was as if the black and white film we had been in for the last few years had been transformed
into glorious Technicolor.

It must have been awful for the people who had lost loved ones; on the seas, at the front or in the Blitz and the people whose loved ones were still fighting or were imprisoned by the Japanese. Most of the POW’s in German prison camps were repatriated on VE Day brought home by Lancaster bombers.

But for today it was time to give thanks. Tomorrow there would be one last effort to finish off the Japs. In the event the war with Japan ended in August 1945 hastened by the dropping of the atomic bomb.

The war to end all wars brought an aftermath of mental and physical suffering caused by the relentless bombing by both sides, the concentration camps and the extreme cruelty shown to prisoners by the Japanese. It was explained that theirs was a different culture; that a Japanese soldier would die rather than be taken prisoner so they had no respect for our men. Does that excuse their inhuman behaviour?

We were young and didn’t want to think about the horrors of life. We had visitors coming. Maddie decided we would cycle twelve miles (mostly uphill) to meet the boys just over the border. It was a hot sunny day and as we freewheeled down into the town we saw three gorgeous youths in front of the town hall with bikes and rucksacks.

There were two brothers; Liam, tall, muscular with hair the colour of treacle toffee and a pale skin. He was the elder and was Maddie’s friend. Her boy friend was Paul Gray – the soldier we met on his embarkation leave. The younger brother was MTL; tall and slim with black curly hair and a darker skin. He had a sort of wild gypsy-ish look – too OTT for my taste; people would stop and stare at him and I preferred more quirky looks. It wasn’t love at first sight but I was dazzled by the trio. Dylan was shorter and dark.

Years later when I asked MTL what his first impression was he said I was very pretty – and very young. Ouch! They were very fit – oarsmen and rock climbers – the elder two, undergrads at Oxbridge and MTL about to be. We cycled back to the aunts where we were fed and watered and Maddie and I put dresses on. I wore a red stripey dress with the bodice laced up. I know this because MTL described it thirty four years later.

After high tea we walked up to Mum and Dads where we had another high tea. My parents were transfixed when Liam demonstrated rock climbing techniques by hanging from the lintel by his finger nails. He was a bit mad and Dylan was a bit too touchy feely for my prudish taste but I warmed to the shy diffidence of MTL who, when he managed to get a word in edgeways, displayed a quiet wit.

All too soon they were off on their adventures but I had too much to do to mope. By hook or by crook in a year’s time I meant to be off on my own adventures.

13 comments:

AndrewM said...

Lambeff WALK innit?

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

So interesting - can't wait to read about those adventures!

Guyana-Gyal said...

If only you knew how much I'm enjoying! sigh :-)

PI said...

AndrewM: well done! You spotted the deliberate mistake.

Zinnia: I have been taught by masters. In suspense I mean. By you I mean.

GG: Can you hear me purring across the ocean?

Kath said...

It was as if the black and white film we had been in for the last few years had been transformed
into glorious Technicolor.


What a perfect line, what a beautiful post! Your true love sounds wonderful ;o)

fjl said...

How lovely!

kenju said...

I had a cousin who was a prisoner of war. He never would talk about it much, until he was about 55-60.

granny p said...

Sad - all the traumas. In my basement for many years lived a man shell-shocked at Dunkirk, hospitalised then lobotomised. He lived at home after that though half himself mentally. He was about the most lonely person I've ever met; but somehow carried on his life. He didn't die till around 2003. People forget there are still the remnants of those traumas still out there, long forgotten.

Meeting MTL was nice though Romantic stuff.

PI said...

Kath and FJL: Thank you.

Kenju: So many men who have been through the wars are unable or reluctant to talk about it. Women are much better at talking about their feelings.

Granny P: Sadly when 'the remnants of those traumas' finally disappear they will be replaced by others.

R. Sherman said...

Great posts. I'm struck by the differences in experiences and perceptions of those times. My dad was a naval officer/aviator in the Pacific; mom was in high school having the time of her life. The father-in-law at the same age was called up into the Wehrmacht in 1945, having spent his youth dodging English/American bombs. My mother-in-law lived in the country with relatives blissfully unaware of what was happening until the Americans rolled in.

It's good these memories are preserved.

Cheers.

PI said...

r.sherman: Welcome and thank you for your kind words. What an interesting family background you have.

Ally said...

Hello Pat, so pleased to discover you've got 'somewhere of your own' :). I agree with Zinnia, I can't wait to read more!

PI said...

ally: Welcome and I'll try not to disappoint. No pressure then.