‘Equality’: No reward for war service

Where does equality start in the UK?

A man rides a bicycle in a race he wins a gold medal and a knighthood. A young lady does a bit of shadow boxing and gets a gold medal. Another young lady runs 100 yards and gets a gold medal.

Accolades seem to be awarded with publicity. The opposite side of equality, which I don’t understand.

A young man 18-years-old joins the TA and eventually embarks on a military life on September 3, 1939. After a week’s training is sent over to France as part of the B and T, after a few weeks of settling in on the Vimy Ridge area of southern France the same young man has to fight his way into Bray-Dunes and Da-Panne area but no peace from our old friend Hitler, he has to find some ship to get back to England and the white cliffs of Dover.

After a few weeks of more training in wintry conditions we are sent to Dartmoor with a view of going to Iceland, typical of the top brass. British Army are sent off to the Middle East. Eventually finding our way in the Western Desert we eventually take up a more static position in the Gazala Line many miles into the desert from Tobruk. After many episodes of making attacks on the Germans and vice-versa he is finally captured by a German (Austrian) night patrol and then transported to Benghazi via Tobruk. After a short stay in Benghazi, we are shipped over to Brindisi and then by cattle truck to a more permanent camp, number 82 Laterina, Arezzo, Florence. After a few months in this camp and two visits to stay in hospital, one visit due to malaria, the second from sceptic sores from being crawled over by lice, which everybody had. Lucky me, I was given the opportunity to go further north of Italy, in a group of 50 to do agricultural work. The reward for this was double food rations of stodge, and secondly to have your mind occupied. After a few months five of us were dissatisfied with Mussolini’s treatment, we made our escape into the Apennine Mountains above Lucca, to endure a worse life than camp because we had to find our accommodation, first a sheep barn then a little church called ‘The Lady of the Snow’. Finally, after losing two of our comrades captured by Germans or fascists (I don’t know the true story as I have never seen them since) the remaining three decided to shelter in a dug out in the mountain side and that’s where we remained until our living rough was drawing near to conclusion and life with no washing facilities, no toilet and the same clothes day in day out, for nearly two years.

The marvellous outcome of my story is the fact that a couple befriended us, and helped in many ways. However, this story did reach the TV screens and commended the Italian couple for their friendship. However, the comparison of my story, ‘equality’, what do such folk as my story relates get as reward, a small pension and no benefits, in other words I could say the building trade term, but I’ll be discreet and say nothing.

D Harrison

Centurion Way