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VE Day and the lockdown


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Got my nice big Union flag fluttering out of the window. The midget next door is baking scones for a socially-distanced cream tea party in the communal garden this afternoon. The old Doris on the ground floor has got her radio/CD thing on the windowsill by the garden so I expect there will be some Vera Lynn to go with it.

Someone across the village must have a "WWII movie themes" album because "633 Squadron" is just starting. Again. In three tracks time it's "The Dambusters." The cluster of houses across the park are having a parking court party later ("2pm 'til late," apparently).

Lockdown? Fuck it; keep calm and crack on! Around here, at least, people are making the best of it and flying the flag - literally, in my case.


This may seem pertinent. I just think its funny in a way. Years old though.

My Uncle Freddy received the following from one of his former comrades.

Dear Freddy,
I hope this finds you well and your leg is on the mend. You were greatly missed at the last Old and Bold dinner, which turned out to be a most remarkable occasion.
Our table included a female who was still serving.
At first everything seemed pretty congenial then someone asked Tommy Bell about the Norway campaign. You remember Tommy, lost his toes to frostbite at Steinkjer. Well, no sooner had he begun talking about the difficulty of moving on the ground because of snow and ice and German air supremacy, than this lady told him that that was nothing, she’d done an Arctic Warfare course.
She described every detail and it seemed interminable but finally she needed to breathe so Dick and Trevor started to compare notes on their treatment as guests of the Japanese and the Communist Chinese. They mentioned interrogation and Zena the Ice Warrior Princess took the cue, Apparently she had done an interrogation course and was told that it was tougher than the real thing, so we all got our ears chewed off a second time.
Eventually Dick mumbled something about it possibly not being quite the same thing and Trevor was clearly a bit upset so ‘Stinker’ Cartwright tried to defuse the situation by mentioning Arnhem and told his joke about the difficulty of having a crap at the Hartenstein Hotel – the one that ends, ‘I don’t mean my first visit, I’m talking about the trip last year.’ I know it wasn’t even funny the first time but poor old ‘Stinker’ didn’t get as far as the punchline. She rounded on him and told him straight up that women could poo anywhere men could. Not only that, it was no reason to keep women out of the infantry. She offered to poo on the spot if we didn’t believe her – at which point ‘Stinker’ lost his thread and the Beef Wellington lost its appeal.
That should have been the end of it but old Bill Gollings heard ‘women’ in the infantry’ and remarked that, as a veteran of Kohima, he was not in favour. I’m surprised Bill heard anything as he’s been pretty deaf on that side since being hit by that Jap rifle butt. She told him in pretty short order that she’d never heard of Kohima and there was no such thing as hand to hand combat but perhaps he’d heard of Afghanistan and did he have any idea? Poor old Bill tried to explain about the tennis court but she brushed him aside and told him that it couldn’t have been much of a fight if they had time to play tennis. She then offered her opinion that asymetrical warfare was far tougher than any other sort of warfare while Tommy gripped the edge of the table til his knuckles turned white and ‘Stinker’ eyed the butter knife with increasing intensity. Ninety or not, once a Para…
Laurie Styles, you remember Laurie, got the MC on Longstop and should have got another one after Merville, gently suggested that women were possibly not best suited to the intense physical nature of infanteering, and referred to the particular intensity of ‘dig or die’ during the Normandy Campaign. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he was wishing himself back at the Bois du Mont. Apparently he was a dinosaur and what the **** did he know? I don’t know what’s going on in Afghanistan, though Reg Fisher’s daughter is out there at the moment, but to hear her tell it, it’s a wonder anyone’s still alive.
I tell you Freddy, it didn’t matter what anyone had done, she knew better and had done the course. I’ve not heard such a love of the first person singular since Corporal Rimmer two-shedded everyone all the way from Salerno to the Gothic Line until someone shut him up with an adjustable spanner. Sadly, the dinner was not a REME do.
It was remorseless. Do you remember the time we took on a Tiger and the damn thing rolled on and on wreaking havoc until Corporal Thompson finally got a lucky track shot with the Six Pounder? Well it was just like that, but without Corporal Thompson or the Six Pounder.
All the best and see you next year if the Good Lord spares us.

Yours Aye,

Cracking tale. I enjoyed that; what a raconteur. It doesn't really matter if there's an end, its the journey getting there. There are a dozen other tales in that piece that needed telling.
With respect to all those heroes. Stay safe everyone.
VE75 shortbread and plenty of tea.
Spotted Red Arrows on Flight Radar24.
Watched Op Mincemeat and BBC VE75 prog.
Bottle of British ale.
Mostly low key around here and that's fine.
Spent the morning queuing outside a German-owned supermarket for groceries. Bought said groceries.
Had bratties mit senf for tea with pseudo-French beer. Now a glass of Bordeaux.
Just think; it is possible none of this would have happened without VE Day!
On a more serious note: VE Day: one grandfather was recuperating after having another ship sink under him. The other grandfather was in Northern Europe hunting Nazis. Both would soon marry and have many kids and many more grandchildren (one of which is me).
Both of my grandfathers were in uniform on 1 Sep 1939. How both survived is beyond all knowing, but somehow they did.
I will raise a glass at some point.
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That the shadow of a crane? I’m half expecting Arlene to delegate marching as exercise.
Already had the band up and down the Newtonards Rd. Social distancing an all
My wife ate her tea off her fathers tin plate he had in Singapore/Palestine and ate on after the war at home Sgt Robert McCann 2nd btn Royal ulster rifles MM.

Sadly he died when she was two

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