Sunday, February 26, 2006

Looking back to 1939 from the relative safety of 2005

Photo shows: "We Will Remember Them", Cyril Sherbourne, Ron Goldstein and Lew (Larry) Fox on parade with AJEX 2004

In 2003, at the age of 80, I started to post stories and pictures on this site.

I began my meanderings from the year 1939 and kept going until I reached 1947, which was when the Government of the time decided it was safe to release me back to 'Civvy Street'.

I deliberately omitted stories about the blitz although I had more than my fair share of this phenomena, having sensibly considered that many civilians would have a lot to say on this subject and how right I was proven to be.

When it came to subject matter I was luckier than most, perhaps, because my stories were already half written as both entries in my wartime diaries and pages in the family book “And then there were eleven”.

Then there was my Army Album, a full ninety pages here, and already packed full of photographs and memorabilia.

As my ‘portfolio’ of stories started to take form I realised that I was, in effect, transferring my Army Album into the Public Domain and I became eager to finish it while I still had the energy and, much later, before the site stopped taking new entries and became the Archive that it both threatened and promised to be.

I tried desperately to write only of matters that I could put my hand on my heart as being true and I therefore kept dialogue to the minimum. With dates and places, this was fairly easy, particularly as apart from my own diaries I had access to the Regimental Histories of both the 49th LAA Rgt and the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.

Having said that, I found that in some cases I could remember every word of an incident that had taken place over sixty years earlier just as though it had been burned into my memory.

As I read other stories on the site I found myself becoming increasingly impatient with tales of daring-do that were patently, to be kind, a bit shaky on established fact.

As a ‘Site Helper’ I tried to avoid controversy when it came to reminding people about such factual slip-ups as saying, for example, that the Queen of Tonga took part in the 1946 Victory Parade celebrations.

I won some such arguments, I lost some, as Archive Day draws ever closer I am resigned to the fact that many of the stories that will be preserved will paint a less than accurate picture of life in World War II.

This small piece should, with a bit of luck, be the last piece I shall submit to the “Pre-Archive” site. I am aware that I have sometimes over-stepped the boundary of valid criticism as opposed to legitimate comment and for this I beg my reader’s pardon.

Like many other writers to this site, I have read some wonderful stories and made many new friends. When the stories have been good they have been very good and I encourage future readers to browse around. You will soon see that the gold shines through the dross.

2nd October 2005

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