This is my dad 18 at years old. Already a fully trained soldier fighting for his country and a cause he believed in. He survived the WWII and continued his active service for another two years after the war ended. But in his head, the war never stopped.
Within days of enlisting in the army, he witnessed the deaths of his fellow soldiers and friends while completing basic training. Abroad, he witnessed more death and injury through combat and ill heath bought on by the sheer horrific conditions they lived in. He had been injured by the horses he tended and worked with. He also suffered with a jungle abscess, dysentery, and heat stroke; at times he was so ill he thought he would die.
Throughout this time, he held onto his belief he could play his part in bringing this war to an end. On one of the rare occasions he did open up to talk, he told me how he had heard rumours of a holocaust happening in Germany, but said we were not in a position to do anything about it.
But with his well-intended belief that he now could, and a promise by Churchill that Britain would be a land fit for heroes, he was given the motivation to continue. Unfortunately, like all well intended beliefs, they are often not based on fact.
While Churchill had promised a land fit for heroes, Walter Frank Higgs an ex MP from 1937-45 was speaking in Wellington New Zealand in 1947…
“The present blizzard and power crisis in Britain was possibly a blessing in disguise. Empty bellies is the one thing that will make Britons work…we want 11 people after 10 jobs, 11 firms wanting 10 orders, it is the only economic way, the only sane way. We are living in a fool’s paradise.”
Prior to enlisting into the army, my dad had, as a 14-year-old worked in Higgs factory, Higgs Motors, Witton. He often told me how poorly the Higgs treated their workforce, how poorly they were paid, and the shockingly unsafe conditions people worked in. The Walter Frank Higgs speech was to my dad, the ultimate insult.
When he eventify came home, he was a broken man. Today we would call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Treatment is available in today’s world, but in my dad’s time it was not. He carried the scars and the horrors of WWII in his head for the rest of his life. These invisible injuries robbed him of his dignity, his self-pride, his motivation to do the right things and the ability to love his family in that way any dad is entitled to do so.
This of course is another story, but for now, let us not forget the invisible casualties of war.