When I started this, I thought that 25 or 30 pages would cover everything I had to say. I guess I forgot my reputation for never using one word if three would do.
It is strange how things keep coming back. I can recall so many other things that happened that are not included:
- There is the time I was learning how to drive a truck and how to double clutch. They added a one-ton trailer for me to back up and park – and then they added a second trailer behind the first and I had to learn to back up that monstrosity.
- There was the time in Debert when I slept in, hating to get up on a gloomy, rainy day. Four of my friends (?) picked up my bed, carried it outside, set it down in a big puddle of water, and left me there!
- And the time in Germany when the Sgt Cook made a fortune selling used tea leaves. Nobody could stop him.
- And the time in Germany when Fin Dempsey and I wangled a batman to look after our rooms and our uniforms, and paid him in cash. He got a German civilian woman to come in and do all the work and he paid her with cigarettes he pinched from our rooms!
But – enough is enough.
Strange as it seems, it is the pleasant or funny things that happened that I remember most easily. The unpleasant things seem to get lost. I have heard people saying, “I hope I’ll still be around when it comes time to collect my pension.” I can recall times during the war when I thought, “I hope I’ll still be around when it is time for breakfast to-morrow.” But that’s the way the mind works – and it’s a good thing, too.
At the beginning, I mentioned being asked why I joined up. I’ve also been asked, “If there was another war, would you volunteer again?” Considering my age, health and general physical condition, that is, of course, a rhetorical question. Right now, I can barely walk around a super market – let alone a 25-mile route march. But if I were single, healthy and had no attachments – and the reasons for joining up were the same as they were then, yes, I probably would – even though I now feel that fighting a war is one of the most ridiculous ways imaginable to settle differences.
I’ve been asked if I resent the time I spent in the army. The answer is a definite “NO”. The army did separate the men from the boys very quickly. I learned a lot about so very many things. . No, I’m glad I took the opportunity of experiencing war-time Army life when I did.
I’ve also had people wonder how come Stella and I have been married for nearly 50 years when we only knew one another less than a month before we became engaged – particularly considering the present statistics on marriages. I say, “I was just lucky, I guess.” That is very true – but it is not the whole truth, as I see it. It seems to me that many marriages these days are based on being “in love” as defined in the songs, books, movies, and TV programs. For some, it would probably be better described as being “in lust”. When that “high” feeling fades, they find they are married to someone they don’t even like and surely don’t want to live with any more. I think it is just as important (if not more so) in addition to being “in love” that you also “like” the person. I think that is the case with Stella and I. We like each other. For myself, if I couldn’t have Stella for my wife, I would certainly want her as my best friend.
If anyone has had the fortitude to get this far in this effort, firstly, I don’t know whether to congratulate you on your “stick-to-it-iveness ” or feel sorry that you haven’t anything better to read and, secondly, I remind you about what I said at the beginning. This is all written from my faulty memory with nothing for me to research to ensure I have all the facts straight. If there is something you disagree with – you will get no argument from me – you’re probably right.
Anyway, I’m too old to fight and too tired to run – but this is how I like to remember it. .