There was an excellent letter published in The Echo, and online, on Thursday 6 June. I thought you would like to read it in full. Go to the article to read others’ comments.
‘Seventy-five years ago my shipmates and I were confined on board the Fleet Minesweeper, HMS Dunbar during the first five days of June 1944. The fact that we were in Dover, not our home port of Grimsby, clearly told us that something was afoot.
‘On the third day I reached my 19th birthday. It was an indifferent celebration! Then on June 5 each and every one of us received a letter from General Eisenhower, and that night, in the dark, we joined all the other Minesweepers as we swept across the channel, ahead of the greatest Armada the world had ever seen. Our destination was Gold Beach, Normandy, where we arrived at about 0500 hrs. It was a bit noisy.
‘In a few days, thanks to the NHS and advances in medical science, I shall be repeating that journey to Gold Beach, just three days after my 94th birthday.
‘As in previous anniversary journeys on D-Day, again I shall be thinking, not of the horrors of that awful day, but of the good times I had with my friends and family when I was home on leave. I seem to recall that almost every evening I was dancing at venues now long gone, and all those tennis club dances, where I met the loveliest girls in the world, and occasionally played the piano!
My father, Eddie, and I, each in our own era, fought the wars which were supposed to end all wars! So what effect has our combined operation had on today’s world?
‘Due to several International banks over-reaching themselves some years ago, the man in the street is still putting up with austerity, while the rich continue to get richer. Terrorism reigns supreme both overseas and on our doorstep. Vicious criminals hiding behind the mantels of various religions commit mass murder of innocent citizens.
‘At home we are now four separate nations, each with its own agenda, and politicians like spoiled children, pursue their own personal campaign, rather than accept a majority vote to leave the EU. European politicians are no better, none of whom were born in 1944, obdurately ignoring the debt they owe us for giving their parents freedom.
‘As I take my 14 pills a day, with a wee dram of Arthur Bells elixir, I ask myself – Why did we bother?’
Model Exhibition – Druitt Hall
During the week there was a model exhibition in Druitt Hall. It was impressive, and there was a lot of information on display. Here is the hall just after opening. Refreshments were available, and there was patriotic music to listen to, including Rule Britannia!
This is the Bailey Bridge, which was very much a local invention.
A working one is still in regular use on Stanpit Marsh, and is something of a tourist attraction.
Christchurch Library – Display
There was a display at Christchurch Library.
Burton Village – Veterans’ Day
There were workmen already making the place immaculate for Sunday, and it was only Wednesday!
The Veterans’ Day was from 1pm-6pm. Unsurprisingly, this is always popular, and is certainly one of the major events of the area. Click the image below to go to their excellent website.
The Day Itself
Thanks from the organisers:
Unusually I am beginning with this item on their Facebook page two days later. It sums up the day perfectly. There are also some comments from appreciative participants.
‘I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that helped make Burton Armed Forces and Veterans Day yesterday such an amazing day.
‘All the charities, bands, singers, stall holders, vintage vehicle owners, all our sponsors there are too many people to mention individually.
‘But thank you all. Also a big thank you for everyone that came out to enjoy and support our day.
Mostly though thank you to all our Armed Forces and Veterans for coming down and for all the sacrifices you have made, you are the reason this day happens. The ‘Armed Forces Family’ is held in great regard in the village and that is evident from the amount of support we continue to receive year on year.
‘So again on behalf of the Parish Council and the Burton Armed Forces and Veterans day Committee. THANK YOU!!!!
‘… Now the last thing to ask is shall we do it all again next year??!’
- Another fantastic and moving day. Gets better every year, long may this great tradition continue. And bless all those that help make this happen, especially the Veterans.
- One of my favourite events of the year. Thank you for organising it and recognising the sacrifice that was and still is being made.
- Such an amazing day and yes definitely do it next year!
- 13:00 Introduction and welcome — Graham Moughton
- 13:05 Andy Whittaker singing popular George Formby Songs
- 13:30 Christchurch and District Band
- 14:30 Jitterbug Jive – Lindy Hop Dancing
- 14:50 March Past
- 15:10 Service of Celebration – The Revd Nigel Lacey
- 15 45 Christchurch and District Band — Popular Marches
- 16:05 Jitterbug Jive – Lindy Hop Dancing
- 16:30 Ringwood Pipe band
- 16:50 Miss Annie – Wartime Favourites
A few pictures from the day. Click View Full Size for a larger copy.
To conclude, a poem by John Pudney. Some may remember this from the film, ‘The Way to the Stars’.
Do not despair
He sleeps as sound
As Johnny underground.
Fetch out no shroud
And keep your tears
For him in after years.
Better by far
To keep your head,
And see his children fed.
During World War II, John Pudney was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer and as a member of the Air Ministry’s Creative Writers Unit.