I was born in 1955, ten years after the second world war had ended. My father and my uncle both fought in the war. Because of the sacrifices they and others like them made, my generation has never been called upon to defend our country. We are very lucky.
My father died when I was young and my mother has been dead for many years. I don’t know what part my father played in the war but I remember him showing me his uniform and medals. He was very proud of them. People of his generation made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe – so we can blog and not worry about what we say in public. It is almost impossible to comprehend what they went through.
Sadly the memory of the war is starting to fade, or else it doesn’t seem too important now for some of the younger generation. My daughters’ 24 year old boyfriend (after spotting a book on our bookshelf) recently asked what the Third Reich was! When told, he said he wasn’t taught it at school.
Last week I hired a little cottage on the east coast so Shirl and I could have a holiday together, and we were walking on the beach one afternoon when we came across an old pillbox. Peering inside, it was full of sand and stones and it was obvious that kids had been playing inside it. I am pretty sure most of them didn’t know what it was.
I did a bit of research and found that there are still 6000 of these pillboxes left around the country, and most were built in 1940 when Britain faced it’s greatest threat. I can’t imagine squatting in one of these small concrete shelters for hours on end, in the cold and dark and peering through a small slit looking out to sea…hoping against hope you aren’t going to see any enemy ships. Like Shirl said, these pill boxes would be targets!
So this pill box and no doubt countless others are now falling into ruin, as well as other remnants of the the titanic struggle when ordinary men and women gave their everything so we could have a better future. There are few veterans alive now and soon there will be no one who can tell us what it was really like. Books and films tell the story but only the men and women who lived through this era can really tell the tale.
So tell your children, never let them forget! Whatever your nationality don’t let them forget. Don’t let the memory crumble and fall apart like this old pill box has…
“When you go home,
Tell them of us
For your tomorrow
We gave our today”