Remembrance Day 2015: The Story Of A Soldier's Child
War affects not only those that served ...
POSTED BY VIVIENNE DOCKERTY ON 09/11/2015 @ 8:00AM
As it's Remembrance Day in a few days, I would like to share my story of the effect Word War 2 had on a soldier's child. I realise that without the sacrifices made by our previous generation, I wouldn't have a story to tell ...
At the going down of the sun ... we will remember them
copyright: suerob / 123rf stock photo (licensee)
It talks about the effect war had on my father, and how those experiences affected his own family for years and years, even though the Third Reich had been defeated and our freedom had been secured.
"Crossing a lumpy sea in a bobbing landing craft, with soldiers packed together like sardines, hushed and frightened with thoughts of what was to come."
In wet holes whimpering with fear, shattered nerves and lost comrades, the chatter of machine guns and not knowing if one would ever see home again. Cold, hard times as they marched through towns and villages, which were blown to bits right in front of their eyes. Terrifying memories that, for years, kept them waking from the nightmares that never seemed to go away.
As a child, I wasn't aware of what my father had been through in the defence of King and Country. I only knew that he could be an angry man, my enemy, who would make my life hell if he wanted. The word 'War' was never very far from his lips and when I heard that word I trembled because I knew I was going to be in for a very hard time.
I struggled along the rutted farm track, trying to keep up with my giant of a daddy as he strode along. I stumbled in the black boots that were far too big for me, hand me downs because of shortages in the aftermath of a war. He gripped my grubby hand tightly, whilst balancing his rifle and the dead rabbit that swung limply through his rifle strap. This day was my first real memory of the events that would affect my life.
My father was a country man. Born the eldest boy amongst a family of seven, he only knew freedom, as his mother was busy with the dairy she ran. Truanting from school, going fishing with the local men, hiding for hours in the deep forests until hunger called him home, that was my father's idyllic childhood. As he grew, he was taught a trade and became a talented stonemason.
The war came and my father, now married, was called upon to fix the broken homes of Liverpool, after the Luftwaffe, intent on blowing the city to kingdom come, dropped their bombs of shame. In a reserved occupation, my father was not required to enlist into the forces, but an altercation with his foreman, who had the power to have him conscripted, saw him on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.
They were a sorry looking bunch when the beach loomed ahead and they saw the barbed wire entanglements looped and trailing across the sandy shore, breached at the cost of the first invasion and casualties waiting with the dead for ships to take them home.
He found himself cover in a hole that had been blasted by a hand grenade, as he heard the drone of a plane overhead and waited for the earth to tremble as the bombs began to rain.
"We must hurry Vivienne, your mother will be waiting for this rabbit I've caught for our dinner. Don't know why I bothered to come back after the bloody war, when I've got to go shooting rabbits to feed us. Talk about living in a land fit for heroes, bloody place is just the same."
Hadn't they fought a war to end all wars in the Great War? Yes, Hitler had been defeated, but it had been at the expense of the younger generation, who should have been there to make Britain great again. There was still rationing, mass unemployment, a huge debt owed to the USA, soldiers returning to broken homes and children who had grown with absent fathers, resenting their re-appearance and being told what to do.
My father - affected by the sights and sounds of battle, had night sweats and horrific dreams that woke the family with his screaming - managed to find work on a local housing estate, but it was heavy going for a once fit man.
The M.O, who had presided over the demob' medical had pronounced my father fit to resume his Civvy life, ignoring the heart that was stressed and weakened, as it didn't really matter much to him.
Growing up in my father's household in the austere years after World War Two, didn't bode well for me, the middle child. My childhood molded me into the teenager I became - someone who looked for love in all the wrong places - as there was none for me from the stressed out father, who tried to repress his anger with a stiff upper lip.
"War is a terrible thing and has long-lasting effects, not only on those that served, but on the families when they return."
I cannot understate the importance of remembering the sacrifices an entire generation made in defence of our freedom, though I ask that you also realise the effect a war continues to have once they come home.
If you'd like to read the entire story of my father's experiences during the war, and truly understand how it affected him, then you can buy my book, Shattered Dreams directly from Amazon.
Until next time ...
Since arriving back in the U.K I have enjoyed meeting lots of people at the Author Talks and book signing events that I have been invited to. It has been great connecting with my roots again and listening to other people's stories whilst I have been doing research for my next book.
A big thank you to all the readers who have posted Amazon reviews after they have finished one of my books.