Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Remembrance Day

Let me tell you a story of war: Come back in time with me, sixty years, to the Second World War, and let me introduce you to a young couple… Their names were Madge and Fred, and they had been childhood sweethearts: Fred was a Sunday school teacher in the local Methodist church, and they planned to be married some day, hopefully someday soon. But this was wartime Britain of the late 1930s, and Fred was called up to serve in the Royal Air Force, so the marriage plans had to go on hold until he became eligible for compassionate leave.
Eventually, in mid-1941, Fred was allowed six weeks leave to be married and he and Madge took an extended honeymoon together. Then, all too soon, Fred had to return to the Air Force where he was a navigator on the Lockheed Hudsons which guarded the transatlantic convoys.
A few days later Fred’s plane was damaged by enemy fire and tried to limp back to its base in Cornwall. But a couple of hundred yards off the tip of the Lizard, the Hudson ditched into the sea. Local fishermen saw the plane come down and set off to see if they could help. Two were rescued, but Fred’s body was never recovered.
Madge, waiting back home, got news of her husband’s death shortly before she realised that she was pregnant with my mother. Such is the tragedy of war.
As a postscript to this story, the wreckage of the aeroplane was dredged from the seabed in the mid 1970’s and it is now on display at Flambards in Cornwall, together with the flight logs listing my grandfather’s name and the flights he took. And my mother is in possession of his medals, which include the Distinguished Flying Medal.
But these are little consolation for the loss of a husband and father.
Such is the tragedy of war
And on this remembrance day, it is important that we never forget.

Thought for the Day originally delivered on 11th November 2003 on Radio Bristol

No comments: