100 years of service
In 1939 when the Second World War broke out Arthur Walters, aged just 16, enlisted in the Royal Air Force, he was to go on and serve another 30 years.
Arthur was my maternal grandfather and he was away for much of my youth. On leaving the RAF he was recruited into BAC (later to become BAE) and became part of the design team for the Tornado Variable Sweep Wing jet. He worked mainly in Bremen and Munich. He did send a little boy the occasional very very cool picture though.
So it was only in later life that I ever got to hear any of his war stories.... And they were all hilarious, tales of friends, adventures, girls and beer. He never once spoke of the horror of war, the fear he must have felt or the pals he lost.
Passed out from Halton Camp he was sent to Iraq, to the largely unheard of training camp of Habbaniya. This unsung backwater was in 1941 to become the site of probably the second most important aerial battle of WWII. It was a battle fought by instructors and cadets - a battle that prompted Churchill to telegram;
"Your vigorous and splendid action has largely restored the situation. We are all watching the grand fight you are making. All possible aid will be sent. Keep it up!"
After nearly 30 days the Anglo-Iraq War was won and Eastern Africa, and vitally oil for the war, largely secured.
The family connection to this is the only reason I know. Soon those direct connections will be lost, no one will have a living link to those who gave so much to build our today.
I can't help but wonder if this is in part responsible for some of our swing back towards the right, to the rise of intolerance and a disregard for unity.
Some tales need to be told.
Just a reminder that I am hosting Tiny Tuesday for April, this weeks tag is tt149
If you're a regular visitor then you have an advantage in knowing what sort of weirdness appeals to me....