Last night I watched the BBC program ‘Tank Heroes of WWII’. My father was in the Desert Rats a radio operator in the tank corps. He won several medals including one for saving their radio from a burning tank. When one watches real footage of the second world war our eyes are peeled just hoping we get a glimpse of somebody we knew.
As this program revealed British tanks were tiny inside and nicknamed ‘tommy cookers’ a phrase I overheard my mother use many times when talking about Dad. It can’t have been pleasant spending days cooped up that way. Dad received a head wound in the D day Normandy landings and was separated from his fellow comrades and ending up with a Canadian platoon.
He was notified as missing in action and turned up many months later in a little French hospital and moved back home. He had many narrow escapes as did many but he was to come home to his wife, have five children before dying suddenly just age 44 and we have no way of knowing whether his head wound was a contributing factor to his death.
We were raised positively by our mother reminding us to live a day at a time and live it well as we never know what is around the next corner. Sadly we do not have many tales of his time in the forces as he did not approve of discussing what he had seen front of women and children. Let’s be honest it was the British Stiff Upper Lip attitude back then and those that suffered did so in silence without proper support.
I discuss my life without dad and bereavement of losing a parent within my forthcoming book ‘Dancing in my dreams’ currently with my publisher.
We did miss out not knowing our dad as a man just a provider mum was right when she said that to us. He gave the best part of his twenties for his country as did so many young men and far too many gave their lives.