8th May: Let's Remember

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Fred
8th May: Let's Remember
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: 8th May: Let's Remember. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
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Fred
remembering the Second World War

Marc Chiric gives an impressive list of things never to be forgotten about this Second World War.  The Concentration camps, the Atomic bombs, the economic agony for vast populations which preceded it and the agony of reconstruction which followed. 

As a kid during this historic time can I be permitted to a remember a few things? 

The air raid  practices at school.  The stinking dug out air raid shelter was in a field across the road from school by the railway lines. It had an arched corrugated iron roof with grass growing on top.   You went down slippery oozing mud steps to get in it and sat in the dark on planks running along each side.  The place smelt of shit because, having no door, it was used as a lavatory by passers by and the evidence was never removed. 

This made the requirement to try on your gas mask, which early in the war you had to carry to school everyday,  a relief as the unpleasant smell of the black rubber tended to drive out all other stinks. The gas masks were ugly unwieldy things. Once on they made breathing difficult and were ungainly, wobbling about underneath your chin with a heavy metal snout that was there to filter out gas but filtered out everything except the bad smells. When you breathed  in the rubber closed up round your ears. When you breathed out it went loose and baggy. This used to scare us kids cos we thought the gas would get in through the sides. Fortunately there  never was gas or even bombs near school.  

Then there was the black out at night, no lights anywhere,  and the black out curtaining that you had to draw across  the windows so that Nazi bombers wouldn't see any lights as they flew past on the way to Liverpool. Some times they just dumped their bombs anywhere and kept trying to bomb our gas works and the railway lines to Holyhead. We used to go and look at the craters.  I was glad they didn't bomb the gasworks though, because we could go there and buy coke, which wasn't rationed like coal, and that meant not freezing on the cold dark winter nights. The weather during the war, and just after  always seemed horribly cold with frozen pipes and lavatories. But at least that meant no school! 

The best thing though was going to the pictures every week when you'd get the news on film. Pictures of bombings and bombed out ruins  everywhere and the King and Queen visiting the ruins in London. Specially the Queen always smiling and waving.  Another film clip would show her at the concerts Myra Hess gave at lunchtime in the National Gallery. We never had anything like that though where I lived.  Sometimes they'd have pictures of soldiers washing naked in German rivers, and laughing and playing. "Our lads" the commentator would say. We'd all smile and then stand straight and still for the National Anthem with pictures of the King, Queen and the two princesses standing on the top of the Round Tower  at Windsor. You were supposed to feel safe when you saw this, but I never really did. 

But  TTFN. Ta-ta for now, as they'd say on the Tommy Handley show on the wireless!