A soldier's heroes in peace and war
During the course of our informal history investigations we were given an old torn yellow booklet. It had no cover and the printing is blurred.
Despite this I was impelled to record this item before the booklet falls apart. I have taken the liberty of filling in the faint and smudged sentences as close as possible to the authors intent.
This was written in time of war and displays a kaleidoscope of peace and war in one.
A Hero. What does the word conjure up to any of us ordinary men and women in peace and war?
Now! memories of pre-war days can creep through the veil of time and enter today's relentless war realities. In the kaleidoscope of our mind we see the green grass of Lords in a summer afternoon.
With a crowd of perspiring fans in short sleeves on the emerald fringes. We pay homage to the skill of the figure in white in the centre striking a red orb with his golden bat. In front of twenty thousand spell bound hero worshippers Hammond is raking in another century at Twickenham.
The kaleidoscope turns and breaks into another pattern.
This time the stand becomes long shadows in a wintry sun. Figures in white and black patterns, dart quickly across the green oblong field, clustering together. Suddenly a marionette figure breaks away and scores a winning try , then, thousands of admirers acclaim a rugby Hero.
The picture changes to a brilliantly lit square and a flash of lamps set in an unlit frame. Inside the arena a dark haired god stands against a blond giant, skilfully beating off the fierce lunges of the bigger man. In the darkness lesser beings grip their chairs tighter and grind their cigars lon g since ceasing to ember.
In every heart a prayer for Jack Paterson to find the strength to stand up to the battering of a rival German. Failing gallantly in true sports spirit does not lessen the heroic stature of Jack in eyes of his admirers.
A foggy afternoon comes tumbling into the picture. Twenty two white and blue figures in the dull gloom play on a green field, swerving and weaving. A breathless assembly lives and breaths the slippery skills of a tremendous football idol Stanley Mathews, as he scores the winner.
The scenes now fade along with memories of our heroes into times mist.
Come now to the realties of war. We see in the headlines of the newspapers announcing the award of another VC for supreme courage in the face of death and ever present danger. Visions of our hero charging a Japanese machinegun armed only with a couple of grenades. He lobs them in to the gun nest in th e face of murderous fire in the same way he used to spin his leg break, in th e small town matches aeons ago.
Then wall posters were displayed with inspiring pictures of war, where grim faced men leapt over trenches bayonet fixed. They had the light of supreme determined in their eyes and a resolve to finish the job. We see people standing in heaps of rubble smiling despite the effects of flying bombs.
A lone Frenchman waving a Tricolour from the balcony of a château, miraculously still standing, holed by shell fire.
A British Sapper lying patiently on a stretcher waiting his turn for an amputation, while joking his fellow boxer about being still the better man, though now unable to keep up his guard and lead with his right.
Yes Heroes all, worthy of our acclaim.
I can make out something like L/c A. Roberts.
Our hopeful acknowledgments.