I mentioned before that my father was in the RAF during WW2. He was a radio operator and was posted to South Africa, Italy and North Africa. These are his service medals.
Dad never really talked much about his war experiences and the photographs he brought back are mostly of his pals – Tommy, Vic, Skip, Roy… Here’s a slightly hazy one of him in Egypt in 1945, still managing to look quite dapper in those shorts.
Going through my mum’s papers, I found that she had kept a poem he wrote when he was stationed in South Africa. It was written in pencil and rather faded, so she copied it out, noting “Poem written by my darling John during a thunder storm in South Africa during World War 2”
The sun is hidden, undecided; / The clouds torment the trees, / Thunder lurks, loose, yet undivided / By the faintest breath of breeze.
The coming storm is longed for, hoped for / To ease the electric atmosphere, / There is no time now to stop the downpour, / Let it come, yet still I fear.
Long streaks of light create a chaos, / Rivers swell and oceans roar. / Death, destruction, killing, fire, / The earth is shaken to the core.
Filled with dread, yet never doubting, / This terror comes in the murk of night. / But after night will come a dawning / Of beauty – breathless, fresh and white.
Another thing he gave her from those days was this little plastic aeroplane (it’s just a couple of inches long) which he had made. I found it safely tucked away along with the half crown he put in her hand at their wedding.