"If ever you feel overwhelmed with your daily responsibilities and reach that stage when you cannot face tomorrow or take any more without blowing a fuse, then sit down for five minutes, take a few deep breaths, have a cup of tea and give thought to the men and women of Britain during the Second World War of 1939-45. Think briefly about them and the country we once were and the greatness we seem to have lost; particulary our capacity as a nation of individuals to cope with struggle and our dogged determination to stick things out until we won through.
'Where there's a will there's a way' is a saying that my mother often reminded me of whenever she saw me struggle with some situation that seemed to better me or sensed that I was in danger of succumbing to the danger of defeatism.
I was instantly reminded by mum that if the British people during the Second World War years had run into the house, shut their doors and never opened them again at the first sight and sound of an enemy plane flying overhead, that old Hitler would have buried this nation before its time and had his storm troopers march merrily over our graves.
But the British were made of much sterner stuff, I was reliably informed. My mother told me that the adversity we faced as a nation brought out in us an inventiveness that was born in the seeds of creation and courage. When the country starved, we uprooted our lawns and flowers and grew vegetables in our gardens and allotments. When our clothes were damaged and torn, we darned and mended them. Wounded soldiers sent back from the war with part bodies were made whole again wherever possible and those left scarred and crippled were treated as heroes and cared for by community love in Cheshire Homes when the war was over. When we wanted but couldn't get, we made do with what we had. When a neighbour was in greater need than ourselves, we willingly shared what little we had and were glad to do so. When anyone in the street lost a loved one on the battle fields or during the bombing of our towns and cities, all neighbours felt the loss of one of their own and all grieved.
When children played and had no toys, they used their imagination. With little more than pebbles and chalk, they drew hopscotch squares upon pavements and roads, while inventive young women without denier stockings to wear drew seams up the backs of their legs to kid their men folk.
Growing children learned through their neighbourhood games of the combined strength what could be achieved by becoming one in purpose. One of their most popular games of the time which mimicked the bombing air raids of the enemy was called 'Leap Frog'. Like the war in progress, this game required two sides; with the aim of the aggressor being to crush the other under mounting pressure as the bodily bombs landed with force from upon high. If the backs of the line taking the pressure collapsed, the other team won. The only difference between the reality of war and the game we played was whether we collapsed in a heap of dead bodies or one of crumpled laughter!
There was no adversity that the British people ever allowed to overface them. My mother once told me that she once read about a woman in London, who during the Blitz, lost her mother and two of her three children in a night-time bombing raid, along with the total destruction of her house. At the time of the bombing, she and her oldest child had momentarily popped out to the end of the street and had returned to find their house reduced to rubble and the rest of their family dead beneath the burning ruins.
The woman naturally grieved her loss and buried her dead. Two weeks later she was seen sorting through the rubble of her destroyed home after she had sent her only remaining child off to school. During her search she retrieved her doorstep which had adorned the house entrance ever since it had first been built and which she had washed and whitened daily as a sign of being house proud.
One of the neighbouring children who was being taken to school by his mother saw the bereaved woman in the ruins of her bombed house and asked why she was sending her Tommy to school two weeks after his two brothers and grandmother had been killed in the bombing raid. His mother reportedly replied, 'Nay lad, what else can she do, but to get on and live her life out the best way she can. To do less would be to give way to old Hitler! In fact, knowing her as I do, I wouldn't be surprised to find her washing down and whitening her old doorstep again tomorrow for future use, if it's still in one piece. Now, you get off to school and do your bit for the war effort. We'll not let old Hitler wear us down. Where there's a will there's a way and we'll find it. We'll win through, you'll see. Now get theesen off to school before I get the Inspector on you!'
If only this country could recapture the courage, character and the fortitude of the British people that existed during the Second World War years, we'd soon get ourselves out of this economic mess we are now in! If only this country could once again develop broad backs in a line of unity, we could bear whatever weight we needed to in order to win through! If only this country could find that proud identity we once possessed as a nation which enabled us to endure the harshest of adversity and austerity for six war years, and which we have since lost down the European plughole; if only.....we would be great again!
Any child above the age of 9 years or adult wishing to learn more about England in the Blitz, my book, 'Robin and the Rubicelle Fusiliers' is an ideal introduction to these times. It is available from www.smashwords.com in e-book form or from amazon or www.lulu.com in hard copy. All profit goes to charity in perpetuity." William Forde (Born in Ireland but bred in England, and proud of it!): August 13th, 2015.