Weekly photo challenge: Thankful – for the Royal Navy

My father, as a teenager in the British Royal Navy in World War II. Went in as an engineer and came out as a Chief Petty Officer. I still have his papers on oil cloth (they won’t scan).

As a young woman I had exactly the same face. I must have a photo where I have those staring green eyes, and those full lips. I never tied my school tie as well as that though 😀

He sent this photo to his mother. On the back he wrote, ‘Your loving son,’ I guess people wrote like that back then.

I’m thankful he came home. Or I would hardly be writing this blog post. One of my uncles didn’t. An airplane pilot shot down just before the end of the war.

I’m thankful for all the British people who fought in WWI and WWII. The men who were conscripted like my father, the men who stayed at home working in essential services, the women who worked in munitions factories, and those who signed up, changing their age because they wanted to fight for their country.

I’m thankful for those who still continue to serve their country through choice. I’m not remotely thankful for the stupid decisions made by politicians, especially those who aren’t even from my own country, and yet, British people get sent to their death because of world politics. Perhaps nothing changes.

I don’t have many old photos of my parents. I’m thankful I have this one.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/weekly-photo-challenge-thankful/

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29 comments on “Weekly photo challenge: Thankful – for the Royal Navy”

  1. Such a lovely photo of your dad and doesn’t he look young too.

    For the world leaders, the armed forces are just pawns on the table in their battle for supremacy, I doubt for one minute they’re thankful to all the ones who lost their lives as they climb the ladder of power.
    As you say, nothing changes.

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    • Thanks V. He does look so young, and that was partly my point. Just a teenager sent to war.

      And on a personal point, just gazing at the pic, it is so strange to see me in those features.

      Should have cropped the pic 😀

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  2. definitely young-looking! i am reminded of photo images i came across of my Dad as a very young man – still a kid in many ways – in uniform, albeit on the other and wrong side of the of the battle lines, just as eager, proud and honoured to serve his country.
     
    and while i understand that the ideals he was inadvertently yet directly a part of were actually abhorrent, and in diametrical opposition to the freedom and privileges i enjoy today, his youthful enthusiasm took him to a place that almost cost him his life. as a prisoner of war, a kind doctor noticed that he would not live much longer and in an incredible act of compassion, arranged to send him home so that he could die there and not have his parents forever wonder whatever happened to this son.
     
    miraculously, he lived another 50+ years in which he recovered to full health, married, had a son, immigrated to Canada where he lived with his family and worked, and had a daughter, and later saw his grandchildren growing up. he rarely talked about those dark days of war, and was grateful for the new life he was able to live in freedom which was possible, in part, because the leaders he was fighting for did not win their battles. something for which i am truly grateful.
     
    this is getting far too long, but it is a double-edged sword. while i too am grateful that there are those who serve Canada overseas and who stand up for those freedoms and rights that are in place here, it is tragic that the cost too often requires the ultimate sacrifice of those who are far too many and far too young.

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    • Yes, the same position wherever people are. Too young, and fighting for their country, and maybe not even knowing what has got them there. Which is why I wouldn’t say your father was on the ‘wrong’ side, just the other. In fact my father wasn’t remotely keen to serve, although he seemed to enjoy cruising around the Med once called up. Gibraltar being a favourite place of his. ‘Back to Gib,’ was something he would often say in reference to his navy days.

      Oh and apparently he ended up having to go because the power station owner’s son got called up and couldn’t get an exemption. My dad would have done because of it being essential services. But as I say, he liked it and wanted to do the butter boat run – from goole to denmark, importing dairy produce – but ended up at home with his mother. The nearest he got to that was retiring near Goole some 40 years later. I wonder if he ever thought about what he might have done when he used to walk around there.

      I like the way your dad’s story has a happy ending. I doubt the Third Reich would have lasted too long. The thirties was a period of fascism in Europe, but with the exception of Franco, there were no long regimes, although who knows if Hitler had survived and Germany had won? Here in Spain it feels like we are going back to that 😦 Canada seems a particularly good country in which to live regarding freedoms and rights. My comment is probably as long as yours now.

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      • It is nice, then, that you can be in Gib now, a place your father enjoyed so much.
         
        Thanks – I love stories with happy endings, generally, and am especially grateful by how the story turned out, too – as I quite enjoy being alive, and would never have been born if he had remained in prison camp, and we would not be having this concersation 🙂 Seriously, though – that doctor was certainly at the right place at the right time, bless her heart.

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    • I think the saddest thing about most war, is the love everyone has for the country of their birth is totally abused by the power hungry leaders.
      When all the fighting ends, the leaders settle back into their cosy little lives, when the long term pain and disruption from wars still continues for many.

      The Discovery club I was in had a couple from Berlin who were members. We met up in Arnhem on one of the trips we did, and on another occasion they visited us here in UK.
      A long way to drive for just a weekend?…….they were still revelling in the fact that they were free to drive wherever they wanted 15 years after the wall came down.

      Your dad appears to have made a good choice moving to Canada, it is a country that comes across extremely good in everything I have read, and somewhere that appeals to me for a visit.

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      • Yes, that Berlin wall, and that whole border which broke Germany into two pieces. While visiting in Germany once, a number of years after the wall came down, I heard the story of a little boy in the former east, whose grandfather got official permission to travel to the west for a family event there. When the little boy was asked what he would like his grandfather to bring back, he asked for a peach, something he never would have been able to get at home.
         
        That little boy is all grown up and living in the former west with a family of his own now. Amazing that the border came down. It is hard to comprehend the intense sense of freedom of movement, as I have never grown up with anything less. Although I must say I did have a small taste of it on an unforgettable trip to the USSR back in the mid-8O’s. Uncanny how it is possible that oppressive regiemes simply get and stay in power. 😦
         

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        • I have a photo of the wall. Must find it and post as it was so spooky going through back in the early 80s.

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          • that must have been incredible. i saw the border while it was still in effect – it followed the old boundary between two states, meandering and curving very obviously, since the border was well-marked. the train station of one of the border towns happened to lie on the west side of the border, and was now lying idly in a state of disuse, while the town itself could be seen not too far off on the east of it. it reminded me so much of a trip to the USSR, where everyone felt an unspoken unease.
             
            and then i saw the border again on the 1st anniversary of the reunification of Germany. it was just the date we happened to be there, but things had certainly changed. in some places you could hardly see where the border had been.
             
            no pressure, and no rush – but am looking forward to your Berlin Wall image whenever you get around to it! 🙂

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            • They might be in my album 😦 I’ve got one of the Brandenburg Gate too. Stuning piece of architecture. The journey through East Berlin was surreal. I guess I’d better save it for the photo 😀 I did like Berlin though.I’d probably watched Cabaret too often!

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              • I look forward to the photos too 🙂
                T has been to most of the Eastern Block countries, including Russia while working as a trucker, but took very few photos 😦

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                • Don’t hold your breath. I’ll probably forget to look in the album as usual. I only picked up these last two because the album was staring me in the face while I was searching for wool to use to tie up the beans because I had run out of string 😀

                  East Germany was the only one I ever went to/through. A had been to Czech though. Not sure if he has photos either!

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        • That is exactly the sort of thing I mean by post war disruption.
          I wonder how many more similar stories there are of families broken up in the same way.
          As you say, it is hard to comprehend the sheer joy that must have been felt when they were given their freedom back. For me, my freedom is priceless.

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          • All you have to do is look at some of the current wars around the world and seeing that not enough effort is put into putting structures and governments in place to help with the devastation that has been caused. (by power hungry politicians and greedy corporations, I might add).

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  3. I love old photos (old anything as you know) and it’s wonderful of you to share these, the memories you have and that you are thankful… it makes such a difference to the tenor of the world when people are thankful and it costs nothing. Photos like these are wonderful, your Dad so youthful and with those deep (and green) eyes is still evident in the essence of the later ’63 photo you published.

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    • I wish I had more. I flicked through the album I bought for my mum some years back and grabbed a couple that had come unstuck. But like you, I just love the old photos, they are such a historical record and evoke such a sense of the past.

      The Second World War influenced me a lot as a child because my parents talked about it so much. It seems a world away when you look at current wars carried out across the globe.

      I think he’d put on a bit of weight in 63 😀 I guess I should add some later ones – if my mother didn’t throw them out!!

      I should also find a pic of me at a similar age, black and white it, and put them side by side.

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  4. These treasures from the past speak volumes, don’t they, and help us connect to a past before us – that mysterious time in our parents’ lives that is so elusive – though your physical similarity with your Dad is something special … 🙂

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