Friday, November 12, 2010

Armistice day in the Charente

Yesterday was a miserable day in this particular corner of France.

The sky was slate grey, the wind howled and the rain was relentless. It seemed rather fitting that we should have to endure these unusual conditions as a small procession of villagers made our way from the the mairie in Gondeville to the local war memorial.

It's something we do "en famille" every year. At the end of the ceremony, after the minutes silence, the girls join the other school children in singing the rather blood-thirsty lyrics of La Marseillaise.

Last year my eldest was chosen as one of the pupils to have the honour of reading the names of local soldiers carved into the memorial. She did it without faultering and I have never felt so proud.

It was a bank holiday and we went out for lunch afterwards. Of course, the girls were curious about the role that my father had played in the second world war. I explained that, fortunately, he had been born in 1926 and was only a teenager when war broke out. When he was old enough he joined up and was lucky enough to be posted to the far north of his native Scotland where he was tasked with guarding Italian prisoners of war.

His brother wasn't as lucky and was sent to North Africa where he fought the desert fox Rommell and the Afrikakorps.

All war is a dreadful thing - we see a sanitised version on the TV, in the cinema and on our computer consoles. But as the rain and wind lashed around us,  somehow it just seemed right that we should all be soaked to the skin and made to suffer in this most insignificant of ways.

Lest we forget.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Very moving, thanks for sharing it.