Always a pleasure to read about the lives of these old gents that puts our own comfortable lives in perspective. Sadly they are getting fewer and fewer now which is why it becomes more and more important to remember this period in our history - something schools now seem keen to brush aside
We should all learn from Georges experiences during his long life time, and in particular his views and beliefs regarding the ex veterans community to who George dedicated the rest of his life to.
This man publicly stated that veterans were being treated like vermin by today's government and he would literally chain himself to the gates of Buck palace in protest about this for the whole world to see.
George was the bravest of the brave, a true gentleman and hero in the truest sense of the word.
I am so terribly sad to learn of his passing; George, AKA Ginger - then Sgt Maj Kay, of the Rhodesian Army Special forces, became a great friend of my mother and I - and were it not for him and his friends and their combined efforts, we may never have survived in Rhodesia...After he left the then Zimbabwe, we kept and in touch - offering him an occasional bed, or helping a friend who needed a short term place to rest...usually something mischievous occurred around that time - but the person in our house had "nothing to do with it!" I recall the weapons he left in our garage in 1981 disguised as Nederburg Barronne 1979 vintage wine - the first 12 of 48 crates were wine - the next were explosives! He had my mum and I helping him out when the "boys" were on cross-border raids - we never KNEW they were operatives - always a nephew who's car had broken down...or a driver for Billy Reutenback Trans African Trucks who's needed to get his wheels fixed...it was years later we realised each time this happened, some explosion or somesuch occurred. Most poignantly I remember the efforts he made to recover the body of my fiance killed in Mozambique in 1980...as a British Veteran he made a personal appeal to Mrs Thatcher to intervene...for a British-born soldier killed in a foreign land. And then he called the Red Cross...he liked Maggie - but not much after that!
In 2008 we met up quite by chance at the launch of a book about the Rhodesian Light Infantry (The Saints) at Birdcage Walk in London...He warmly embraced mum and I who he had not seen in 25 years - he looked like James Bond in his evening dress - black tie and all! It was as though we'd seen him a week before for a coffee; his mind was as sharp as a razor - and he recalled everyone and everything; from then we then saw him each year at a Remebrance Day and until August last year and the calls were nearly weekly; George remembering some cross border raid - some detail a family member may cherish of a loved-one fallen in battle...for me to pass on.
Or he would call me to say he'd made the papers again - "Aye-Up Flower - I'm in trooble eggen" and recount his latest brush with the law or despised "pseudo-authority..." The last was with the Council over a car parking charge - he won - he told them it is ILLEGAL to give a fixed penalty notice - they were acting as Judge and Jury and spot fines were against his Human Rights - quoted Magna Carta and WON!
He told me in his last call he was moving soon...up North he thought...and he'd call me when he got a new mobile number...if he could get coverage... I should have known. He never said. But then again, he wouldn't; last thing he said was, if he could postpone the move - he was going to jump tandem into Arnhem one last time. I passed through Arnhem last week - I had such a yen to throw a tribute off that bridge...I marvelled at field and forrest so lush - it would be - with all that blood spilled. He never forgot. He hated the politicians for the wars they caused - but he was bloody excellent in battle.
They say Heaven for old Soldiers in being warmly remembered. He is. If half the stories of WWII, Malaya and Rhodesia and South African 44 Parabats are to be believed - and I KNOW a lot are - the man was a legend. One day they will make a film of his life and James Bond will have to hang up his 00 boots!