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Remembrance

A year ago on this blog - An Englishman's Castle: 1st November - I told a story that brought out the courage and compassion of my father as he fought 62 years ago in the "sandpit" of his time. He was typical of his generation and of our fighting men today. My thoughts are with them.

Last Year's Entry:

Its ten years today 1st November 2003 that my father died. Its 61 years since he and the rest of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry took part in the battle of El Alamein. Having been in the vanguard of the attack at the beginning of the battle they had lost most of their tanks and were rehorsed in Grants and Shermans for the second main attack on the 2nd of November. That morning they charged the German guns; on the flat plain there was no cover for the tanks against the dug in Panzers and 88s. The only way they could destroy an 88 was to run it over and crush the gun and crew. Of course a hit from an 88 destroyed a tank. And when they brewed up they burnt very quickly. Of the 50 tanks that started only four survived the day, many of the crews got out and some including my father were captured and spent the rest of the war in POW camp.

I would like to share a story about Dad Herbert William Daw which I only learnt at his funeral. He would never have mentioned it himself. A comrade of his told me he could have got back to the British lines but he stayed with his wounded driver; cowering behind a burning tank in the middle of a battlefield. And the driver had been wounded when the tank had been hit; he had been trapped by his arm. My Dad crawled back into the tank, amputated the arm and got him out. And Im glad to say they both made it to the 50th year anniversary dinner.

Comments

By coincidence I now work at the hospital where my father was brought after being wounded by a hand grenade during the battle of Arnhem. Although it's now an NHS hospital it has a contract with the armed forces and today I helped care for a young soldier wounded in Iraq. A similar wound and probably a similar age to my father in 1944, but so very young seen from the age I am now.

My father has been dead for twenty years now. Like yours he was a man who wouldn't blow his own trumpet, but I suspect that a large part of my hatred for the EU in all it's arrogance, vain glory and contempt for the individual, is the profound belief that he would have hated it and that it's a betrayal of what he fought for.

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