War and Peace

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One night in early June, sixty nine years ago, I lay awake in bed and heard the thunder of hundreds of aeroplanes flying over my home, hour after hour, all through the night. I was six years old, and I lay there frozen with terror, thinking that Hitler was coming to get us.

My mother was not home as usual, so it was my job to get my younger sister and the baby downstairs and into the air-raid shelter when I heard the warning siren. On this occasion, there was no air raid siren, which totally baffled me, and I lay there petrified.

Reading Anthony Beevor’s study of D-day recently, I learned from it that that night was June 5, when a great armada flew across the channel ahead of the landings at dawn. Beevor described people all over the southern England in their night clothes, standing out on the warm June night gazing up at the sky, and watching with astonishment this stupendous aerial army, wave after wave, hour after hour, flying overhead. They knew that the long-awaited invasion was beginning.

Only as an adult did I realise what an anxious, nerve-wracking day that was for the whole country. Europe had never been invaded across the Channel and the men who were attempting it were facing a fortress bristling with weapons, skilled warriors and impregnable fortifications. Western civilisation was hanging in the balance, and with it the lives of unknown millions in Europe. As the army mustered in the ships and then stood in the landing craft, some smoked, some prayed, and if they were American, some chewed gum, then an unknown invention in England. Some read the Bible and some officers recited Shakespeare’s words on St Crispian’s day:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian. …
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours…

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin‘s day.

Many of these young men had never been in combat before, while the battle- weary British troops who’d been fighting for the previous five years, were now somewhat reluctant heroes. My father told me much later, that he felt his courage had ran out in Italy.

They had breakfast while they sailed into the dawn, the Americans enjoying steak, pork, chicken and ice-cream, the hard-up British, corned beef sandwiches and a tot of rum. On one ship the sailors made sure the Canadian Scottish regiment had two hard boiled eggs and a cheese sandwich to take with them… and thus fortified they all went into battle.

Back in England, every-one was on tenterhooks, knowing what a huge gamble it was. Churchill was in agony, knowing what failure meant, in terms of the dead and their families, with his experience of the carnage of World War One. He was also worried about the French civilians. 15,000 had been killed, 19,000 wounded in the bombings before the Invasion. Roosevelt had rejected his pleas to concentrate on the Luftwaffe. (One wonders if Roosevelt would have been so gung-ho about that number of American women and children dying in their homes. I also wonder if there are memorials to these dead, as well as to the soldiers who died.)

If everyone else was on tenterhooks, I wasn’t. No-one told a small girl what was going on back then. One just snatched at clues, and tried to piece things together. One of my earliest memories was of the Battle of Britain. I remember standing with my mother and a couple of other women, as they gazed up into the cloudless blue sky in the Dorset country-side , saying: “There’s another dog-fight”.  I craned to see these dogs fighting in the sky, but all I could see were silver crosses diving across the blue space with white lines trailing behind them.

I was two then, I couldn’t talk, but I could understand what adults were saying. Later, I remember people promising that in Peace-time we would have sweets, and toys, and clothes. I thought Peace-time must be like Christmas, only better. At Christmas we had an orange at the bottom of our sock, a once a year treat.

I used to peer out of the window looking over the quiet street where we lived, watching the big girls I admired, roller-skating past. I was six and they were twelve. They didn’t know I existed as I peered through the small diamond shapes on the window which was criss-crossed with wide, sticky brown tape to stop the glass shattering if a bomb fell.  This was at Weymouth, and the American soldiers who fought at Omaha left from Weymouth Bay.

As long as I could remember, the beach had been covered in thousands of khaki camouflaged vehicles, surrounded by barbed wire. There was just a tiny corner of the beach where we could use the golden sands. And in the sea were lines of cruel metal spikes sticking out of the waves to stop the Germans coming. I thought all beaches were covered in barbed wire and protected by rows of big black spikes.

And then one day they were all gone – troops, vehicles, barbed wire and spikes. No-one told me why. I was an adult before I managed to piece the story together. Today, every child knows about war. It comes into their homes every night on the TV screens. They must feel that war is normal. But my war was different. It was a monstrous aberration which we all longed to end, everyone hanging out for peace. When it came, nothing much changed for us, rationing went on into the fifties, hardship was part of our daily lives. But at least we thought we had won the peace.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

A friend gave me this recipe, which she had gleaned from another friend. It’s supposed to be for four lamb shanks, but I used it for four chicken breasts. Brown them, and gently cook a large onion until soft. Put the chicken and onion in a casserole with four chopped spring onions, six tablesp of peanut butter, four slices of  fresh ginger, three cinnamon sticks, three star anise, 80 grams of dark brown sugar or palm sugar, three tablesp of dark soya sauce, three tablesp of Hoisien sauce, and three tablesp of rice wine. ( I didn’t have any rice wine, so used a medium/sweet sherry instead).

I poured three cups of boiling chicken stock over it all, and put it in the oven at 80 degrees for twelve hours. It is melting when it’s ready. I served it with the kumara puree and parsnip and carrot puree.

Food for Thought

There really seems to be only one hope for man: not to change the world and others, but in some degree to change and improve himself. The salvation of the world rests secretly upon those who manage to do so.

Herman Hesse  1877- 1962  German poet and novelist, winner of Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946

 

 

 

 

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81 Comments

Filed under army, british soldiers, cookery/recipes, great days, history, life and death, military history, peace, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized, world war two

81 responses to “War and Peace

  1. Wow!
    I never knew where “Band of Brothers” came from. Was that TV series shown in Australia?
    I was around 7 when the war ended. My mom and me had just gotten off a train in Chicago. People were going nuts. Scared the hell out of me.

    Very nice photo with the flowers.

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    • HI Bruce… I think they probably did show Band of Brothers in Australia… I think they did here in NZ too but I don’t watch TV.
      Was that about the American part of D-day?
      Love the idea of everyone’s excitement at the station… It must have been a shock to you !!!
      Thank you, I’m thrilled you noticed my photo… it’s all a learning curve for me !!!!

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  2. Hi Valerie,
    Thank you for writing about your experiences from such a young age, and giving me a glimpse into what it was like living in London during that time. As it happens, just watched the Hollywood version of the Memphis Belle crew and what they went through yesterday! My father was in the 82nd Airborne, a turret gunner on the “Mighty Fortress”, the B-17. He was awarded 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses for his 35 missions over Germany. Looking at the photos I have of him with his fellow crew is so startling. They were so young! 18 and 19 year old’s – dedicated to putting their lives on the line for peace in far off places. Your perspective of living through this major world war is really valuable – I hope you write more about this subject.

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    • Thank you so much for your comments, great to hear from you…I really appreciated your memories..
      I wasn’t actually living in London – that was hell !
      I was lucky enough to be on the south coast, where the invasion troops took off.
      Yes, they were all so young… the Battle of Britain four years before D-day, was fought by a handful of young pilots in their late teens and early twenties, and the whole world depended on them to defend the country from Hitler’s tyranny. Their life span was measured in weeks.
      I feel that everyone was not so much fighting for peace, as resisting being enslaved and annihilated by Hitler, as he had done to all the other countries he conquered.. . and the US became part of that struggle after the Japanese had attacked them
      Thank you again for your encouragement .

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  3. I appreciated reading your account of war time in Britain, as you remember it. We rarely get the perspective of a child.

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  4. My favourite Shakespeare passage! Thank you for including it in your post…

    “He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours…:

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  5. Great story Valerie, I wasn’t born then but my father was in the British army. As a child, after the war, he told stories and sang army songs that the soldiers sang when marching and when drinking I guess.

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    • Thanks for commenting Terry… many people who lived through the war, terrible as it was, felt that they lived life more vividly and profoundly than ever again… living in the present moment, I suppose, never knowing what the next day would bring…

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  6. Oh Valerie, what a stunning piece of writing, we have no clue at all what you and other children must have gone through, knowing nothing else.. c

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  7. Eha

    Valerie: I do hope you won’t mind if I share this with some of my friends . . . Whilst you lay in bed as a small child in England, I waited for the bombers to rain havoc over Tallinn, Estonia well to the east of you! I too was an army brat: my father had been the Prosecutor of the Higher Military Court ere Communist took over a small and innocent country! what youhaveso lucidly written, resonates loudly to this day! A child does not forget!! Thank you for putting this down now. When a very simiular story of mine is published later this year, I’ll make sure you receive a tale of how it was on ‘the receiving side”

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    • Eha

      My apologies for typos – I DID have problems with WP: off for the Queen’s Birthday Holiday, methinks!

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    • Thank you so much for this wonderful comment… what a story you have to tell… and what terrible heart-breaking times they were for people in those places, crushed between all the great powers… Thank you so much for thinking of sharing your story with me. I would Love to read it.. Of course I don’t mind you sharing my little story with your friends – nothing a writer likes more than to know their writing is enjoyed or valued.warm wishes, Valerie

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  8. Anonymous

    Valerie, what a life-shaping experience that must have been, to grow up in war and to have that terrifying night with no-one to explain what was happening. The tension throughout Britain must have been extreme. I feel so fortunate to have been protected from the war, and to have had my father here during it (he was kept back to run an essential industry and because my mother had bad arthritis and two children with a third – me – on the way)

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  9. Valerie, the comment above is from me, Juliet. I’m at the bach using my laptop, which isn’t being recognised by Wordpres.

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  10. It is amazing how clear the memories of children who had some kind of war experience are, like a permanent scar, only on the inside, a little reminder of a time that passed that can be recalled with striking clarity.

    Reading your post reminds me so much of the things Irfan Orga recalls in my recent readPortrait of a Turkish Family when he was 5 years old and his father was to go to war and then the other significant events that were to shape their lives to come.

    And that illusion of the thing called Peace. That Irony. It seems to me that peace was the thing that everyone had had before war was ever mentioned. Because from the moment it is mentioned, peace of mind is shattered permanently for so many and that state they experienced previously, even if they were not aware of it then, will never again return.

    I have just acquired a copy of Vera Britten’s autobiography Testament of Youth which I am looking forward to reading when the many activities consuming my time currently calm down enough for me to absorb and appreciate it fully.

    A wonderful, evocative post Valerie, thank you for sharing it with us. Your stories are always compelling to read and made to reflect on.

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    • Claire, thank you so much for your wonderful comment – you are always so appreciative and perceptive. What you say about peace is so true… a state of equilibrium and contentment that actually large swathes of the world enjoyed before what my grandmother called The Great War … followed alas by the next…
      So many people have lived in fear, valid or not since then…a subject we could talk about for ever!
      Hope you enjoy Testament of Youth… I read my step-grandmother’s copy when I was seventeen, and felt I understood her better after that…actually, enjoy is the wrong word… I found it shattering, even though I also found Vera Brittain priggish… and felt the same when I read it again at thirty… not strong enough to re-read it now…things seem to go deeper now I’m older!!!! Testament of Friendship is rather moving… her friend being Winifred Holtby… have you come across her books – South Riding was amazing…
      Must stop, could talk about books forever too !!! Lovely to be in touch…

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  11. I enjoyed this very much. To this day my English mother-in-law reacts when she hears planes overhead, only recently diagnosed with PTSD.

    Victoria, thank you for gracing our pages on “Into the Bardo.” I just noted a couple of typos in your bio and corrected them. My apologies. Don’t know why I didn’t see them before.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Warmest regards,
    Jamie

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    • Jamie, lovely to hear from you… how interesting about your mother-in-law… it took me years to get over the sound of a siren….
      I felt very flattered to appear on your pages, thank you….
      I was very intrigued that you called me Victoria, because that’s my daughter’s name and people often call us by each other’s names !!! You must have picked up on it….Happy weekend to you, with warmest wishes, Valerie

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      • Thanks for the diplomatic correction – not doubt it was old age on my part (I seem to want to change everyone’s names lately) – and my apologies. Our honor to have you join in and featured. We’ll do it again, I hope. Be well, Valerie.
        Jamie

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      • Thank you, I would love tha,t Jamie… I really treasure the connection with your blog

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  12. Amy

    That is a horror war experience children went through. Then, it made me wonder how those young orphans had to live through… It must difficult to go back to that part of the memory.
    Your recipe reminded me the casserole that a French chef made. He cooked only a very few times a year, and he used to call me when he does, and I would call some of my friends for making reservations a week ahead of time. He also mixed with some sausage, white beans… It was a heavenly dish.
    Love the the beautiful rose photo.

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    • Hello Amy, thank you for your comment… love the sound of your chef, AND his casserole… how delicious that you all rushed there when you knew he was cooking !
      So glad you liked the pic… I’m having such fun learning to take pics.. I’ve never bothered with a camera before.. everyone else was always taking pics, so I never bothered! What I’ve missed !

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      • Amy

        I’m so happy you enjoying taking pics. You reminded me the lady that we traveled with in China. She was from England at 72 years young, she bought the iPad before the trip, and used iPad to photo, then email to her friend in England, reading ebooks, checking news and weather.. through the trip, made the rest of us envious 🙂

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      • Wow, I’d like to be like her too… may get there one day !!!!

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  13. I found myself holding my breath as I was transported back in time to Southern England during the war. What an important story you have to tell, Valerie. It was highlighted by a lovely picture of a vase of English roses, and the perfect Shakespeare quote. I was captivated!

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  14. Valerie, I am deeply touched by this piece. It came into my mailbox yesterday. I had little mail today. I am grateful for I new that I needed only this email as I knew that the tears would flow while reading it.

    My father was the love of my life. I did not like my mother. My childhood though privileged was not happy. I was born immediately after the War in 1946. Mummy was a lifelong Anglophile. She looked down her nose at us because we were not English. Children of course do not understand this sort of snobbery. But I did finally come to understand it after finding her WWII scrapbooks.

    She spent about two years in London during the War working for the OWI. The OWI was the propaganda wing of the US government. I know that I must do something with these scrapbooks, they are an extraordinary glimpse into the War and Britain. My father not yet known to my mother was stationed (I think) at Cheltenham as an Ordinance Officer with a B-17 Bomber Group. I think that it may have been the 350th.

    I remember having to attend the movies: “The Sinking The Bismarck” and “The Tirpitz,” ghastly for a to have to child to watch. I also remember War booty that my father brought home, gargantuan Nazi flags laid over the vegetable gardens, a Prussian Helmut (from WWI I should think) and pistols. Shortly after my father died I found his scrapbook too. And then there was the “Huntley Palmer Biscuit” can that held his insignia pins medals etc. I had scooped them up from the big-barn. They would have told me what I was looking for today but out of anger I tossed them out the day he died. I live but 10 miles from The Army Records Center today. However, it burned in 1973 taking with it records through “R,” my fathers last name and mine is Rice.

    I remember taking to grade school baked bean sandwiches with horse radish sauce.

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    • Liz, what an amazing comment, thank you so much for sharing your memories, so moving. It’s awful not to have a mother who delights in you isn’t it… I’ve always missed that relationship, but how sad that your mother was so mixed up in her attachments.
      The stories of people’s wars are always so moving, and your parents were both in the thick of it…
      And what a shame about the records… piecing together the past is such a poignant and tantalising process…in the end, the only peace of mind I find, is in letting it go, and knowing that we are like : “Time, an ever-rolling stream ” !!!

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      • You are of course right – the day I found her scrapbooks – I knew that she could not help what she had become. She was someone in the war. In many respects I think life as she knew it ended when she started having children. Yes, I let it go long ago – all but what to do with these extraordinary books of memorabilia. Thank you so much.

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  15. Interesting perspective. Beautifully told. Recipe sounds wonderful!

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  16. lucewriter

    Valerie, what an astonishing story. I’ve never hear the story from the perspective of a young child before, and I was surprised and overwhelmed by hearing it. Regarding the recipe, I am wondering if your 80 degrees is the same as mine and if I could use my gorgeous slow cooker.

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    • Luce, thank you, so glad you enjoyed it… the recipe is easy… I’m sure your slow cooker would do the job…you can peek in at intervals, and even cook it more or less, depending how it feels… it’s not as though it’s going to sink in the middle !!!

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  17. Stunning piece of writing! Although, you always invoke tremendous feelings whenever I read your writings. My father was in WWII as a 17 year old. He went in with his Mother’s permission –horrible family life with a step-father and brothers) at 16 and turned 17 two months later.

    Although he was in the South Seas (Navy) fighting the Japanese his memories were very vivid of his life-shaping time there. I remember as a child we went to all Audy Murphy movies and any others that came out.

    I must stop I could go on and on and on.

    Your photo is perfect for this post!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

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    • Hello LInda, so glad you enjoyed it. What a horrendous experience for your father at such a young age.. they were tough times for young people. But it certainly shaped people’s characters as you say…. I’ve never seen an Audie Murphy film !!!!
      So glad you liked the photo…I’m discovering the joys of photography… but I have a long way to go before I can produce a stunning sunset or sunrise like yours !

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      • Audie!!! I just knew I had spelled it wrong! Thank you for correcting it so others can see the right spelling.

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      • LInda, I hadn’t even noticed what the spelling was in your message. How awful.
        I wouldn’t dream of correcting you, I feel really unhappy that that’s what I seemed to be doing.
        My stuff is full of typos, and you are kind enough not to comment !

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      • I didn’t feel bad about it…I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t really know how to correct it. I appreciate your doing so and did NOT take offense in any shape or way. I think that is what good friends are for…helping each other along.

        Linda

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  18. Valerie, you certainly lived through a traumatic and changing time in history. I’m not so sure today’s children know a thing a war. Seeing it on tv is seeing a Hollywood movie unless someone sits down and explains it to the child though I’d be surprised if that happens much. And then, how would they truly understand? If today’s children in this country had really understood it I doubt they would be coming home from the middle east in number they are with such traumatic mental conditions.

    The flavors you put together in your recipe sound very intriguing. Wonderful!

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    • It is horrendous the result of fighting today… English soldiers also suffer the traumatic after-effects of fighting in those un-necessary wars.
      Back then in WW2, of course, no-one understood that there was such a thing as PTSD… we just lived with hurt, angry depressed fathers. Mine, like many of his friends, went on having night-mares for years afterwards.
      Hope you’ try the recipe… it’s so easy, and delicious !!!

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  19. This was hair-prickling stuff to read.
    As a wartime baby with both parents serving in the Air Force but based in Pretoria, somehow Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and D-Day, became utterly real to me through all our friends and relations, At a very young age I would try to picture living through the Blitz in London. One of my first and most admired Managers flew in the Battle of Britain. Decades after, I remember my wife standing in front of the memorial to the airmen in Southhampton, and weeping openly.

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  20. Thank you, good friend… loved your comment… I can well understand your wife weeping at the memorial… I feel very very vulnerable at every annual Armistice day… not just for my loved ones, but for all the broken- hearted families behind every one of those names on the memorial….
    And they were all so young…

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  21. Valerie,
    You have certainly touched a nerve with your latest post. I have read every comment posted to date on your site and have learned so much. Love that other follower’s in your area of the world are sharing their stories and experiences. Someone commented that future generations will not know of the sacrifice, chaos, and life-changing imprint this war has had on people’s lives today. I trust that you are keeping a record of all the comments you are receiving. May be an idea for a great book – teaching future generations about the consequences WW2 had on families, children, etc.

    Reading these blog comments’ reminds me, in a positive way, of my beloved father, who passed away in 2001.

    Let me know if you have any interest in pursuing such a project – book wise. Would love to participate!

    Regards,
    Maurita

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    • Thank you so much for coming back and reading all the comments – they are amazing aren’t they… actually they’re from all around the world, England, the US, South Africa, France, Australia, and two from my neck of the woods, New Zealand. Your idea of a book is great… there would be so many ways to approach it… if I ever get my head above the various projects I’m involved with at the moment, I will certainly contact you. How lovely that your father was still with you until 2000, mine died young in 1968, and there are so any things I would love to have asked him…

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  22. I read this twice, such a stunning piece. Childhood memories I think are the best reminder and yet we forget why peace is so important. Thank you for this, for sharing so eloquently your memories.

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    • Thank you so much Val… they all came up after reading some blogs about US veterans celebrating D -Day, and I thought to myself, there are plenty of other points of view too !!!! And of course there are many more memories now that I’ve dug into the bottom of the pond !!!

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  23. two engaging goldens

    Reading your account of that night, lying in bed not knowing what you should do, I could not imagine how frightening that would be. I was born in 1946 in Essex, so I didn’t experience the war – just the hard times that followed for some years, rationing, etc. The first house in our terrace of 4 got bombed, the rest left standing. Many people had trouble adjusting after the war, horrible that it was it apparently gave them a sense of purpose, working to support the war effort. I hope younger generations are not allowed to forget what people went through. Its so important we never forget. Joy

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    • Thank you so much for your thoughts Joy… I fear that younger generations may have moved on, but older people still remember. I think there were many reasons why people had such a hard time adjusting after the war… getting used to family and friends who were never going to come back, the continued hardships which everyone thought would end with the war, some of the worst winters on record, and not enough coal and power, and also that sense of living vividly in the moment which so many people experienced when death was around the corner. Afterwards it was a horrible ant- climax when the exhausted people thought it would get better, and for a time it got worse… England was bankrupted by the war, and paying back loans from the US. The last Lease -Lend payments were made in 2006 ! And of course, so many returning soldiers were deeply traumatised and depressed, and no-one realised, so whole families were deeply affected by it…and many other factors, for which there isn’t time or space !!!

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  24. Valerie, I’m sitting here wiping tears – for many reasons. You have a way with words and I am profoundly affected. You see, freedom, for me, is the absence of fear. You’ve brought home the levels of fear lived by so many at such different levels. Imagine being a child. Imagine being a child responsible for siblings. Imagine being a parent at work. Imagine father being a part of it all. It shakes me to the boots.

    My father never went to war. He was in his 30s and due to a farm accident, he had lost a finger…I never asked which kept him at home. But I grew up seeing the struggle of some vets with the yet unnamed PTSD.

    Like Joy, I was born in 1946 – and when I heard Churchill’s speeches on the radio, they must have been programs replayed years later. As young as I was, it was obvious his voice resonated with leadership and importance.

    As a 20 year old, I hitched around Europe. I heard so much about the war – the young Germans my age hated the Marshall Plan. They swore Germany would rise again. I saw the destruction and tried to recall what I’d learned in school about it. I didn’t know if it was okay to ask questions or not. Then we hit Holland and were treated liked princesses! I felt guilty – riding on the backs of strangers from my country whose lives were changed forever because of that war.

    Then we went into East Berlin and looked up a family. It was 1966. Not a smart thing to do, but we had coffee, nylons and a few other things we wanted to deliver for friends in Canada. So naive. We frightened the hell out of the Berlin family – and we were confused by their hesitant welcome. Can you imagine the ignorance?!

    Thank you, Valerie.

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    • Dear Amy – what an amazing comment… yes, freedom from fear is what we all want for ourselves, our children and our world… I lived in fear as a child… my mother was not out working, she was out partying, and if things were not ok when she came home, there was trouble… we experienced neglect, hunger, and fear… Your account of your trip around Europe was so interesting… why did the young Germans resent the Marshall Plan, it was that which put them on their feet again? And I can imagine the fear that the East Germans felt being visited by the fabled and feared Americans!!! I expect in your schools like ours, they didn’t teach recent history, but the history of the past… we had to find out for ourselves what had happened just before we were born, and in our childhoods! I feel I’ve been learning about those times ever since, and they fascinate me, as otherwise we don’t really understand the present… And it amazes me how people carry the memories of their grandparents and families into their lives today, and hold onto old grudges, wrongs and injustices… I love your thoughtful comments…thank you Amy…

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  25. Valerie, I never experienced the war only remembering what I read or studied in school. My dad served during WWII at Iwo Jima. He never spoke of the war…what he saw, what he experienced. Right before he died Mom told us he walked out into the backyard one afternoon and suddenly burned what was left of his Navy uniforms. His story remained untold.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I was so wound-up in the hospital with Jim, I did not even get a post up at Awakenings. Maybe one day I will get caught back up with my blogging. I do enjoy the writing and it certainly eases my mind a bit. Let’s me know that the brain is still functioning! LOL 🙂

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    • Sharla, so sorry to realise that you are still really up against it with Jim… It’s really tough, and when it goes on for so long it wears you down. How do you cope with the kitties and everything… we’re all here when you have time and energy to entertain and inspire us again… Thinking of you both XXXXX

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      • I travel back and forth every day (80 miles round trip). The kitties see me off and greet me when I get home 🙂 They are so wonderful…my little companions. Jim is back on life support with us finding ourselves back where we were on March 23 when our world initially came tumbling down.

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      • Oh Sharla, it sounds terrible for you both. You are such a courageous lovely soul…you are in my thoughts and prayers.
        PS do keep eating and also drinking lots to keep up your physical strength as well as your spirits. It’s easy to forget to look after yourself when you are looking after the other…. thinking of you both..with love..

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  26. Hi Valerie,

    What a great perspective of War time Britain. What touched me was the way you have recounted it through the eyes of a six year old.

    To me what jumps out from your post is the intrinsic polarity between different shades of Freedom and different shades of Fear. How do we hold the consciousness in the moment as to where we exist on this continuum? Tell me Valerie, where do you find yourself today?

    Cheers

    Shakti

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    • Thank you Shakti, so good to hear from you. So glad you found the post interesting. To answer your question – I grew up full of fear … my mother disappeared six months after this story, never having nurtured us. Later I was often in disgrace with my family. So my life-time’s challenge was to overcome fear, and as I’ve peeled back the layers I’ve gone to some deep and far places. Today I feel free from fear, and free to be myself. And I am not unique. I actually think that this is the challenge for most people. The opposite of love is fear, and few people experience unconditional love, so there is usually fear at the bottom of our consciousness… fear of never having love, or enough, or a job, or security, for our children, and so on. Most people are just used to having this vague uncomfortable feeling at the bottom of their consciousness or their stomach. We learn to live with it. When we start to recognise it, understand it, and release it, we become free… That, at any rate, is how I see it at the moment… and other people will have their own truth and insights around this….

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  27. This gave me chills. What a huge responsibility for a 6 year old to make sure her younger siblings were safe.

    Band of Brothers was a mini-series based on the US “Easy” Company. It was quite powerful to watch.

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  28. My dear friend. This is an exciting new bloggers award. “Semper Fidelis” means “Always Faithful”. Thank you for your wonderful friendship. Lots of hugs and love. http://tersiaburger.com/2013/06/10/the-semper-fidelis-award/ Thank you for being part of my Wolf Pack!

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  29. That must have been a crazy scene, seeing all the buildup for the invasion, Valerie. I am still amazed by the way the RAF single-handedly fended off the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. I can’t imagine what it was like for the British, basically going it alone from 1939 until the beginning of 1942.

    I worked on the National WWII Museum here in the States—the museum was built around D-Day and then expanded. I had the pleasure of chatting with a few English people who lived in Portsmouth and saw the buildup for D-Day, as well as a bunch of American and British D-Day veterans. I don’t even want to think about how scared these guys were the night before the invasion. Nor can I imagine what it must have been like for the people in Britain, being under such direct threat from German invasion. I’m sorry war was such a big part of your early consciousness. It must have been so bizarre.

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    • Hello Madame… what a fascinating comment – thank you so much… it must have been so interesting working at the museum… not many people understand the way you do, how dark those days were. For me of course, as a child, it was all I knew, so things could only get better! And somehow I’m glad I knew a tiny fraction of what it was that convulsed the whole world then…

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  30. Erik Andrulis

    Amazing closing thought. Loved it.

    Like

  31. haehan

    How lovely that you can close with the thoughts of a German writer after all you went through in the war with that country. Reminds me of a family friend (Japanese) who went to the funeral of a veteran who had bombed Japan as part of his service.

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    • Thank you for the thought, and for commenting… I actually think that great artists like Herman Hesse belong to the world, and I also think that today, we have to remember that the whole world is our village… we can’t indulge in dangerous nationalism any more… So good to hear from you…

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  32. Pingback: War and Peace | One God News

  33. Today I was inspired by a wonderful blog to come up with an award….Someone has to create these awards…. and I created the Rose of Kindness Award. I used a photo of Vic and my favorite rose as the award picture. I have nominated you for this award. I know awards get out of hand, but this one is special to me. I hope you accept. Lots of love and gratitude for the kindness you have shown me http://tersiaburger.com/2013/06/13/rose-of-kindness-award/

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  34. “Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”
    ― Paramahansa Yogananda
    Tersia, this word has been coming to me all day in blogs I’ve read, this comment which arrived in my blog, and now this beautiful award, ‘the rose of kindness..’.
    What a lovely memorial to your beloved daughter
    I am very honoured to be included in your list of nominees, and to find myself in such company.
    Thank you Tersia for thinking of me, and I hope this ball of kindness continues to roll around the globe, bringing light to all it touches…

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  35. Isn’t it interesting that children just accept whatever situation they are born into as normal? You have a wonderful memory Valerie, thanks one again for sharing some of you’re life story.

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  36. Valerie, having just been to Normandy for the 69th anniversary commemorations, I enjoyed reading your memories. They gave me a moving, yet different perspective of what it must have been like to have been a child during this time. Thank you.

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  37. Valerie, what a masterful job you did taking us back in time with you as a child witnessing the feelings of experiencing the start of the invasion. I was a child also, but far from the first hand sights that you saw. Those memories must be etched clearly in your mind to call them forth so truthfully and realistically all these years later.
    My father was jetted from the army, even though he was a young man in his 20s. Scarlett fever as a child had damaged his heart, and he was already having symptoms of heart failure. My mother had a job in a munitions factory, helping the war effort, leaving my grandmother to get my brother and me ready for school each morning. My memory of that experience is that grandma pulled my long hair as she braided it, while my mother always managed to fix my hair with causing pain. All our Ives were turned upside down in those terrible days of sirens, rationing, dark outs, wardens and huddling by the staticky radio to get news of the day’s war stories.
    This was a beautifully written post with words from the heart and voice of deep resounding memories.

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    • Ronnie, thank you so much for these lovely memories and thoughts. So glad it resonated with you… few people have any understanding these days, do they, of those grim times? Isn’t it interesting how we never forget those things like our hair being pulled and plaited too tight! I had long plaits too, and was always losing my ribbons which would slip off, and so I was always in trouble with my stepmother ! Thank you for your lovely words, Ronnie..

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  38. Typos: my father was rejected from the army, not jetted from it.
    My mother used to fix my hair without causing pain.
    All it lives were turned upside down…

    Apologies!

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