Thursday, December 22

Charlie A Father

My Father was a”mans”man. A bomber pilot in World War 2, invalided out of the war from his posting in India in 1944, where he had contracted some sort of blood disorder before hostilities ended in 1945. The war changed my father’s character.My Mother, knew this, and made such unbelievable allowances for him which seems inconceivable to me to day.

One day Charlie had been playing golf. As usual he had enjoyed himself with his mates, Curley Campbell, who loved to bet, and partnering Cuttee the club champion and other players had joined in for a game of “skins”. A “skin’ in golf is a hole won and my father had had a good day, collecting more than his fair share of winning “skins”. So he happened to consume a good portion of his “winnings” at the Club Bar. So much so that it caused him to overlook his planned wedding anniversary dinner date with my mother that night. Much later he drove home slowly, aware he’d had too much to drink.

Meanwhile at home my Mother had been sitting, rigidly in her chair, dressed for the evenings planned engagement, patiently waiting for “Charlie” to finally arrive home.There was certain tension in her tiny frame, like a steel spring ready to snap at the slightest surface disturbance.

Charlie arriving home saw my mother through the window dressed for the occasion, sitting motionless in the chair and remembered the anniversary dinner plans as he walked up the steps to open the front door.He opened the door slowly, tentatively; considering an appropriate entrance, at the same time reaching for his hat and crouching forward, as if in combat, gently throws it. It glides over the furniture for the perfect soft “landing” at my mother’s feet.
Bullseye.

Charlie kept a War Diary.

Went on a 1,000 mile trip last night, a “bullseye”. Bags of searchlights and few night fighters. Flew at 13,000 feet and nearly froze.We are on another “bullseye” last night, airborne from 10pm, until 5am, about a 1,000 miles .Wizard trip. No night fighters but search lights were troublesome, my starboard motor wasn’t behaving very well, (it was a lousy kite anyway) and I was very pleased to return safely to base. Whole crew very tired. Squadron Leaders had given us the night off, so it’s early to bed.

My mother heads slowly turned, coldly eyeing its presence. Eyes glanced to the door; tension subsides at Charlie’s hesitant entrance. A momentarily flicker of compassion passes over her, for her Charlies home.
Charlie’s enters the room, a fleeting glance to my Mother, as confidence returns.

A contrite Charlie stands before the ‘Commander’ for he’s arrived back at base at 9.30am in the morning after a nights celebration ‘and his boys caught AWL are in plenty trouble’ but the incident is quickly overlooked.

He speaks slowly to disguise any hint of slur, ‘Hello Dear. Now I was thinking about our anniversary. Rather than take you out to –night as we planned I have a better idea. Tomorrow we could celebrate, you can cook for me my favourite “Sunday roast’ and I will invite all my air force mates, from whom you will hear some good jokes.’

This reminded me of the frequent stories by “Charlie” of the dear English folk whose homes became a home away from home to the “lads” from Australia.They outpoured the best of “British” gratitude. The ‘Homes of England ‘became a refuge, a sanctuary, warmth. Stiff upper lips, ‘The British Empire’, don’t worry about the bombs, siren going off, bloody nuisance, those bloody Germans, finish your cup of tea first son.

My fathers often spoke about it, almost in reverent tone, not one to normally show his feelings. Land of hope and glory, this was their finest hour.

A time to record it.

Arrived at the BBC studios at 9.30am. met several officials then a rehearsal after which we began recording. We made 6 records, 2 of which had to be repeated. because of technical faults. The BBC fellas were very pleased, called in story writers and 2 newspaper correspondents to get our story. To day we are going to have our photograph taken for the papers.

“Feeling a bit peckish Charlie” asks my Mother, fully restored to her devotional self.

Yes, sure I am.

Steak and Eggs ?.

Just what the Doctor ordered.

The Medical Superintendent handed Charlie his papers. Cause for celebration you’re being invalided out of the air force.The post message was brief
'Darling I’m on my way home. I can’t wait to see you. Everyone at the hospital is jealous. They have drawn pictures of you with me coming towards you. They think you’re a good sort. I nearly died, they thought I was goner, but I pulled through for you my dear, I was unconscious for 10days. I’m coming home.'

Her “Charlie’s returning.

It was almost too painful to talk about the long separation to anyone.
They (her feelings) must not be mentioned in any detail ever.

The emotion is an ocean, and you must not swim against the tide.
It’s not a good idea.
The red roofed houses of Sydney have received many telegrams of those who will not return. It casts a grey shadow over the community.

A sad note too deep to hear.

His premature death from cancer aged 57 was hastened, if not directly caused by his wartime experiences. I remember he had continued difficulty in breathing and frequent bouts of bronchitis. At his funeral I can remember the streets being blocked off; in anticipation of the large crowd as all of the numerous service organisations he had served so well, came to bid “au revoir” to their “faithful digger”.

And of course the spirit of those great mates, the best friends he ever had, who had perished earlier, in the “Theatre of War” were also present in the form of the last entry in his diary. …it seems if the war is like a series of more or less interesting events, with a nightmare of sudden death in the background. Many of the fine lads mentioned in this book will never again to see their homes. They will always, to me, be the good friends they were when we last met, they were men I was proud to call ‘friend”.

My parents marriage appeared to be made in heaven for I can scarcely remember a single cross word ever spoken between them .But it was based on a lop sided devotion of my Mother to my father, who reigned supreme. And to whom she spoilt rotten.

It belongs to a past era, never to be repeated, as the two stories testify.

17 comments:

DA said...

It seems Charlie had a natural "skin" for the 19th hole Lindsay :-)

May he rest in peace..

Gary said...

Thanks for the story Lindsay - wonderfully woven together. My father was a Spitfire pilot in WwII - who then had a life's career in the Air Force. He also carried a lot with him, washed some if it down with alcohol and married an incredibly supportive (if at time very pissed off) woman.

He died at 76 which is a fairly full age, yet his parents and uncles/aunts all made it into their 90s.

Dad died at an Air Force convention, in his bed, with a nice bottle of Scotch on the bedside table...

Lindsay Lobe said...

Thanks for your comments JA –quite often had too much of a skin for the 19th, very true.


Garry
I would love to hear more about your father since spitfire pilots were my boyhood heroes. I loved stories about the pilots and their “terrifying dogfights”.
“Reach For the Sky “ the story of Douglas Bader was my favourite and that of my father.
I think any spitfire pilot, could hardly not be effected by the enormous pressure of 1 to 1 combat in the air. My father had a great admiration for them.

I remember attending an air show and being in awe at the display by the spitfires. They were incedible aeroplanes for their time.

VB said...

I really loved that story - it was really well written.

Was Charlie unconsious for ten days because of the blood disease??

Andrea said...

Amazing story, thank you for sharing.
My grandfather was in WWII but he never talked about it, my grandmother only tells us the funny stories, they were in Russia, German and the Ukrain through it all.
The memories are worth hearing and keeping.

Merry Christmas to you and your Family (2005)

ipodmomma said...

my father in law as in WW2 as well. he met my husband's mom there, in Germany, and he was originally from Mexico... a small world!

have a really lovely Christmas and a joyous new year... :)))

ipodmomma

Christmas 2005

Worried said...

Our WWII veterans are passing on now at a rate of 2,000 a day. Soon they all will be gone. The history of that era as related by the fighting men and their experiences is precious and gives a broader view than that written by academics or the bios of generals. Some oral histories must, by necessity, be told second hand but they are no less valuable. Please, record your father's memories.

Congratulations and blessings to the entire family on the birth of the new addition. Make sure she learns about her great-grandfather.

Best wishes from Houston, Texas
Christmas 2005

neinawolf@yahoo.com said...

Hello, I don't have a blog but I like to read them. The scenery in the picture is beautiful. When I was a child I traveled with my parents over the world. My father was in the petro-chemical business and we were at Karratha for awhile. It surely didn't look like that! Mother said Karratha resembled west Texas. I like your story about your father. Sometimes Mother talks about her uncles in WWII and her father in WWI. Those stories are a whole lot more interesting than the history book I studied in school.I hope you write some more about his remembrances as well as stuff from his diary.

Merry Christmas 2005 from Neinawolf
Pasadena, Texas USA

Wild Child said...

The Wild Child from Crosby, Texas signing in. And yep, that's in the USA. You have a great blog, very interesting. I've noticed that blogs brings people together from all over the world, like we're all neighbors. That's a good thing.

Holiday Happiness to all of you. And to all of your readers, where ever they live, Merry Christmas, y'all.

Short 'n Chubby said...

Greetings from Kansas, USA.

Good blog. My husband and brother-in-law served hitches in the U.S. Air Force in Korea and in Viet Nam. I wish they had kept diaries but they wouldn't even talk about their experiences. So we have no personal family history of the wars as seen from the warriors.

You have a beautiful new baby.

Arizona Shaman said...

I served in World War 2 also, but I don't talk about it. Maybe I ought to write my memoirs, if it means that much. I liked reading about your father. A lot of us changed after being over there. Your mother must have been a saint. Too many women couldn't handle the changes and got a divorce.
Are we supposed to put our country and state on these comments? I notice most people don't but some do. Most commenters on blogs don't.
What is the protocol?

Best of the Season to you and family. Shaman from Arizona, USA

Sanantone Woodrats said...

Blue Sand from San Antonio, Texas.
I think every body knows Texas is in the USA so I'm not stating that. Since the Indian Wars and the Revolutionary War every generation of my family has served but none of them wrote about it either. I wish they had. Our geneaologists find records of service, pay records, or land grants in lieu of pay but no personal accounts. You and your descendents are fortunate to have your father's diary and stories.
You have an interesting blog. I hope you post more about your father.
**********
Howdy! Red Sand adding his two bits worth to big brother's comment. Good blog. Diverse subjects. Must have good lobes.

Jo and Lloyd said...

You are truly blessed with your miracle baby. In our family we have several miracle babies who but for the grace of God, very good doctors and high tech medical procedures and equipment would not have survived. Your baby is truly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Cool Dude from Dayton, Texas. And yea, it's still in the USA. Hasn't been taken over by Mexico yet, but most of the population is Mexican immigrants- illegals. Immigration is fine as long as it's done legally. Most of the U.S. citizens are immigrants, just like in your country.
You've got a good blog. Keep it up. So many are just self serving crud so it's a pleasure to find a good one.

Gary said...

Lindsay,

Happy Christmas 2005! I only know you via the virtual blogging world, but feel like I can safely say you are a fine man, with a lovely family, a good mind and (not to demean the lobes...) an even greater heart. Enjoy the holidays and look forward to your musings in 2006.

Gary

P.S.

I'll send you a site linking to my dad, who knew Bader quite well...

Christmas 2005

laura said...

I love this story! What a nice way to hold your parents in memory during the holidays, too - and bringing them into our lives as well.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Thinking of you, and your ever growing family.

Laura

Lindsay Lobe said...

Thanks for all of the comments and may I wish you all a joyous Christmas.

Andrea-intersting and no doubt it is fascinating for you to hear about those storiers from your grandmother. You also have an interersing life, living in japan.

Ipodmomma
A small world as you say !!
fancy you living in the UK and from CA !-what a climatic difference.The countryside where you reside looks stunning.

Worried American
Thanks for all of your sound advice,I agree it's important for future generations to understand the sacrifices that were made and the consequences of prolonged Wars.

Neina wolf
Thankyou and I think travel is a great educator !!

Wild Child
The Blogs do have a unifying effect !!

Short'n'Chuby
Brave men, and it's hard for them to talk about it. We owe them so much !! best wishes

Arizona
Thanks for your comments and we owe you guys so much-its such a privilege to hear from you. Your stories would be of great interest.

You can include any information you wish on the comments.

In Australia a lot of the ex servicemen found it very difficult to adjust after the War, as they were waiting for the wives and children to change, but it didn't happen.

Another tragic result ensued with the isssue of small soldier settlements as the landholdings were too small for commercial farming.

Many simply walked off the land with nothing !! A disgrace

Sanantone

What a pity it is nor recorded as I think future generations would be the poorer for not Knowing !! those personalised stories of the war. We owe you guys heaps !! Best wishes

Redsand
Thanks for adding your comments too !!

Jo & LLoyd
Thanyou -a beautiful and miraculous baby as you say !!

Anonynous

Stay cool -thanks

Gary- thankyou and also for sharing the info on your dad.

Ms squiggle
Thankyou and have a great Christams with all of your family.