Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: War, now and then

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  • Raymond A Francis, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Hilary, I often feel those who did not serve had a hard time of it living through the 50s. Of course they were alive but they had missed out on what a lot of the returned men felt was the measure of a man and there was certainly some ill will when the troops were furloughed
    For instance it was very difficult to buy land as returned men got first dibs on it, cheaper loans and the price set at pre-war prices if bought at auction
    This was as it should be (we did not want a return of the WW1 stuff up) but it must have been a difficult time

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It's interesting as a Brit, to see how big a thing this is. Growing up in England in the 60s and 70s, Remembrance Day wasn't much of an event - it was much like Lifeboat Day or other charitable collections. That, I think, was because for the wartime generation, *everyone* had been *in* the war - whether overseas or back home as a civilian getting bombed.

    There was also the possibility of nuclear war right up until 1989.

    It's interesting that as such real threats to the nation receded and the government embarked on small wars of (re-)colonisation, the idea of 'remembrance' has been pushed much harder in the UK.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4221 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    It's interesting that as such real threats to the nation receded and the government embarked on small wars of (re-)colonisation, the idea of 'remembrance' has been pushed much harder in the UK.

    The sentimental promotion of terms like "squaddie" by the likes of the Sun. Personally I find it pretty risible coming from armchair warriors. In Australia Packer's papers used the term "digger" throughout Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war. Murdoch, who at the time was against the war, pointedly didn't.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Two of the best.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1459 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Funnily enough, my first major exposure to WWI history was studying those songs and other war poetry as part of sixth-form English class. Very few people in my family served in WWII, and I don't know if any did in WWI; the two I know of who did serve overseas died before I was born, one in Italy and one long after in a glider accident. Everyone else of that generation was too female, young, or exempted.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't be here without WWII. My grandmother was an artist and a city girl, raised in Wellington and Auckland, but when the war came she volunteered or was conscripted as a Land Girl - I don't know the details - and so met and married my grandfather, and spent the next forty-odd years as a farmer's wife. My grandfather had been prevented from serving because his older brother had already gone and the farm couldn't lose both of them. (I believe some rather dubious medical diagnosis was given as the official reason, but that was the real one.) I understand he was always jealous of his brother the glamorous Spitfire pilot, and received a great deal of grief for staying behind. But I just don't know very much; by the time I was interested enough to ask questions about WWII, even as an era, the only grandparent I had left had been a young child during the war.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Another that keeps regularly arriving on the front page of our papers. The old living alone.....

    The other is the perenial child abuse. Can't find a video unfortunately

    Daniel Smiling

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1459 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Anyone know when our WWII executed will become public knowledge?
    I grew up with Granddads story of being in the firing squad for a member of his section for rape in Italy. No wooden bullets and no-one missed.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Just thinking,

    That information should be held by Archives or the Defence Force. Given that there would be little reason to keep them closed, you should be able to ask for them to be opened. Personnel records for those executed, court martial records and unit diaries would be the places to look.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4221 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Just thinking,

    I grew up with Granddads story of being in the firing squad for a member of his section for rape in Italy. No wooden bullets and no-one missed.

    Perhaps the most surprising thing is that he talked about it. So when will the real stories come out? Not while the 'measure of a man' myth festers on, even unto the succeeding generations.

    Those who were able to prove their heroism knew the price, and generally didn't talk about it. Those who never got the chance were blighted by the sense of personal inadequacy instilled by the military's methods of ensuring unquestioning obedience. All bore something of the burden of survivor guilt.

    I was told a truly horrible story not many years ago by a WWII veteran, now deceased. While it started out like a wartime yarn, it was a kind of confession of a confession, an unburdening of a story of shared guilt told to him by someone else, but too awful to contain. Because I'd known one of the people involved, by then a long-dead ANZAC with major measure-of-a-man issues, I at least had some understanding of why he was driven to behave as he did. It certainly didn't make him any more likable, but it left me less inclined to pass judgement.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Thanks RoO & JW,
    Oh the psychology!
    I hadn't thought of that.
    It was 24 April 197? and he was drunk, reading his and his brothers diaries, tears flowing as much as the beer.
    That night he also told me of the breakout of Minqar Qaim & he went through the Hospitsal lines, bayonet fixed.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Just thinking,

    That night he also told me of the breakout of Minqar Qaim & he went through the Hospitsal lines, bayonet fixed.

    There was an old bloke, veteran of the North African campaigns, who used to bore me almost witless for several years, every time he visited Okarito; he visited me
    because
    a)I was a pipe-smoker (and he dearly loved his pipe)
    b) he could be guarenteed a whisky or 2
    c)I did listen - even when I'd heard the stories he told many times before...
    He was at Minqar Qaim (he pronounced it 'Minker kai-am') and he NEVER talked about that - just general background to the whole theatre-of-war in that area and how much he revered Churchill, the British Navy, and those elements of the Maori battalions he had met (he was also at Casino.) "God! They sang! Even when they were burying people!" is the best line I remember from Donald...
    He came back to his parents' farm on the Coast, brought up a family, planted a *lot* of trees (exotics mainly, but many fruiting or nut trees) and - I only learned this after his death in the late 1980s- never talked about his war experiences with his family.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    This one sums it up for me.

    Anger and tears.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4454 posts Report Reply

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