The remarkable story of the wartime exploits of Ken Gatward was flagged up in The Times today. This is his obituary from the Independent.
His raid on Paris was the classic idea to wind up the Nazis.
I am reminded of the Mosquitos that after bombing Germany used to go through the streets of Dutch cities at tree-top heights, whilst the Dutch threw their hats in the air and cheered. Whilst visiting Ballast Needham in Amstelveen, I got talking about it with one of their engineers. He said his father had told him about the amazing sight and noise as they echoed through the houses.
So,etimes these days, we seem to have lost sight of the maxim told me by an old Colonel – In case of war, burn all rule books.
I was born in 1947, and at my primary school in North London, there were girls who hung around with Teddy Boys. Just look at John Borman’s film, Hope and Glory, which is a true reflection of children’s behaviour during the Second World War.
I wasn’t feeling too well this morning, as I probably got too hot in the sun at the Paralympics yesterday. It seemed to make my hand and arm go rather cold. So I picked up one of Marks & Spencer, roast pork loin with apple & cider sauce dinners from their Fuller Longer range, as I didn’t want the hassle of cooking properly.
It really is rather a nice meal for something that you just put in a microwave. I wonder whether when John Randall and Harry Boot, invented the cavity magnetron in 1940 at the University of Birmingham, ever visualised, nearly everybody having one in their homes.
Whilst waiting for the trip over the Emirates Air-Line, I saw the Lancaster flying up the River to the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial.
It made an impressive sight as it passed the cable-car.
Gyles Brandreth can always be relied upon to add something of note to a discussion. He has just said that the Duke of Edinburgh‘s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was at the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving of Queen Victoria.
She stayed in Athens during the Second World War, and this snippet, shows an insight into her character.
During the fighting in Athens, to the dismay of the British, she insisted on walking the streets distributing rations to policemen and children in contravention of the curfew order. When told that she might have been shot by a stray bullet, she replied “they tell me that you don’t hear the shot that kills you and in any case I am deaf. So, why worry about that?”
So did the Duke get his forthright character from his mother?
In the Diamond Jubilee flotilla today, there are about forty or so of the Little Ships of Dunkirk. If you look at the Wikipedia entry, you’ll see that some unusual boats took part in 1940. What surprised me was that 39 Dutch coasters that had escaped the Germans also took part and rescued about seven percent of the total of the troops brought home.
I photographed this in a shop window in the Kingsland Road.
I thought spelling mistakes like this on products were a thing of the past.
I can sometimes get very emotional and start crying quietly. I did this morning in Carluccio’s in Islington. I’ve talked of this before. All I was doing as reading the colour magazine in The Times and especially the piece about some of the people who had won medals at the 1948 Games after suffering badly in the war.
The star of those Games was the Dutch female athlete, Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals. The Dutch presented her with a new bicycle.
One other competitor I’d heard of was the Hungarian marksman, Karoly Takacs, who after losing his right hand to a grenade accident, learned to shoot left handed and won gold. He also won gold four years later in Helsinki.
One amazing tale concerns Jim Halliday, who fought in the retreat from Dunkirk and later was captured by the Japanese in 1942. On release from the his POW camp, he weighed just 27 Kg. He then won silver or bronze, depending on the source, in the wrestling. Sadly he died in 2007, so won’t be able to present any medals. Perhaps, he has a son or daughter, who can be asked!
And people moan about, VAT on pies and pasties. They don’t know they’re alive.
To me though, the crying may also be about my eyes telling me that they have now wetted up and are not as bone dry as they have been in recent months. Two years ago, a nurse treated them and said they were the driest eyes she’d ever seen. She gave me some artificial tears, but I can’t put anything in my eyes.
It’s not as if this day is anything significant in my life, as my son died on the 23rd, not the 30th.
Perhaps, I’m just one of those people, who needs to cry!
I seem to have come across him first, as he had written one of C’s books for her History and Politics course at Liverpool. But I remember him most for his book that he wrote in conjunction with Jimmy Langley, MI9: Escape and Evasion in 1939-1945. In there he relates how the first two British servicemen to make a Home Run from Germany were two Sikh sergeants in the Pioneer Corps.
It is a tale that has fascinated me and no-one seems to have any more knowledge than that one line in the book.
Hopefully, one day the tale will fully surface.