Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remember them, please

This is a copy of a letter I have just sent to a magazine about remembrance day and the people we tend to forget. It came partially from an article in the book and partially from a chat with my friend Brian Bigelow- we are Vets of different service branches but share the same feelings that although we may not support the war-we will always support the brave men & women in the Services.
Dear sirs

As a long-time reader of your fine magazine (despite being in exile in Bristol since 1963). I must commend Mr. Freethy on a great and well researched book.
The personal insights add such more to a book, than just the facts. You can feel the people's fears and worries about loved ones far away.

I am very grateful too, for his bringing to attention the role of the trawlers and small boats played in the war.
We all know and admire their part in Dunkirk but that was only a small part of their contribution.
Also, as an ex-serviceman from a sea-faring family. I am thankful to him for bringing to attention the various people who never get a mention.

My late uncle was in the Air-Sea-Rescue and flew Catainas during the war but the role of the service is lost in the annals of time.
I had uncles in the Merchant Navy and Lifeboat services who also never get a mention.
One of my pet peeves-being ex-RAF, is that while the fighter pilots get the glory;the bomber crews get praised for raids (rightly so).
Who thinks of the brave men who flew in the Typhoons and kept valuable soldiers from the front lines by attacking supply routes.
Who praises or remembers the men who flew the Defiants in the night fighter Sqaudrons.
While pilots and crews flew the missions, the man and women on the ground rarely get thanked for their part in getting the aircraft repaired and ready.

Along with these there are various men & women who go unmentioned. 
While I know some of the groups are secret and cannot be mentioned, there are some that can but never get a mention.
We all know of the work of the Gurkha's, who thinks to give thanks to groups like the Chindits for their undercover work. Their existence is no secret but they are forgotten heroes. People forget that a lot of the information that helped turn crucial points in the war did not come from big operations or places like Bletchley Park. It came from a man, woman or child walking down the street and taking a quick note of something not looking right.
These people also played a vital role in keeping the Germans on their guard behind the lines and were would we have been without the various underground systems getting our men back safely.

Another  group of brave men who get forgotten are the men who flew Mosquitos.
We have all seen 633 Squadron and now the tune well, while the film is fiction. The underground group Lind did exist, it was set up by Martin  Linge- a Norwegian actor, who later rose to be an army Captain. 
If you have seen the film "Mosquito Squadron," this is based on a real raid at the Amiens prison camp.
While taking nothing from the brave men who kept our skies free with the air battles or flew miles in heavy bombers-think about those men who flew low level, fast raids across enemy territory. Their only ally being the speed the could travel, their aircraft by designs had to be lightweight and vulnerable to any kind of gunfire.

Alan Place
(SAC Place A.W.-J8122647)

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