Sunday, February 26, 2006

The photo in a serviceman's wallet

Photo shows: Joe and Fanny Goldstein

Like many another serviceman overseas I carried with me the odd photo from home.
One such photo, that of my parents, was transferred from pocket to pocket, small pack to small pack, kitbag to kitbag wherever I travelled and surprisingly managed to survive the war.

It would be churlish of me not to post a photo of my parents on this site after having posted so many other articles about myself, so here I am, trying to make amends.

To accompany the photo I’d like to tell you two small stories about my parents that will, I hope, give you a little insight into their characters.

Firstly, my mother, Fanny or Faigele, as she was known to Joe, my father.

In November 1945 I had my first home leave since March 1943.

As a temporary ‘tenant’ at my parent’s home in North London I found myself sleeping on a couch in the front room, no problem for me since I had been sleeping ‘rough’ for the past three years.

In the early hours of the morning I was un-intentionally woken by my mother who had just entered the room. When I asked her what the problem was she replied “I was just bringing in an extra blanket to cover your head because I thought there might be a draught coming from the window!

At the time and even now, some sixty odd years later, I laughed as I thought to myself “G-D, its just as well she never saw some of the places in which I’ve been sleeping!

My other story concerns the same period of twenty-eight day’s leave.

My Dad was very proud of his soldier son and wanted to take me around to show to his cronies. One of his regular weekly haunts was a local Solo Whist Drive where the prizes were quite substantial, about £50 pounds if I remember rightly.

When we entered the hall he introduced me to all and sundry as one of General Montgomery’s veterans and mentioned that it was the first of such competitions that I had ever attended.

I won’t say that his friends deliberately played badly against me…. let us just say that a combination of beginner’s luck and civilian good-will resulted in my winning the top prize and my father was ecstatic.

The following Friday he was shocked to the core when I apologetically declined his offer to take me to the same place again. I was never a gambler whereas my Dad was, like many of his generation, the eternal punter and he shook his head in bewilderment at my inability to sense when I was on a winning streak.

My parents had five sons serving in the Forces and were ultimately to suffer the grievous loss of one of their boys.

They are both long gone but I hold their name in utter reverence and it is an honour to be able pay tribute to them in this WW2 Archive.

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