Friday 8th May is a Bank Holiday in the UK (replacing the early May Bank Holiday Monday this year). It commemorates the 75th Anniversary of VE Day which marked the end of World War Two within Europe. If lockdown is still happening it will probably feel like every other day for most people!
This isn't typical of one of my Harmony Healing Blogs, but I do have personal family stories of relevance, should any readers be interested.
My late father Alec Bristow (pictured right), was an RAF Pilot Officer during WWII and, having crash landed off the coast of France in November 1942, he was interrogated by the Gestapo and spent the rest of the war as a POW (Prisoner of War).
From December 1942, was in Stalag Luft III, which was a special high security POW camp for airmen, because they were so ingenious at escape attempts. In fact, he was involved with what later became known as The Great Escape on 24th March 1944 in which 76 men escaped through a tunnel intended to get out at least 200. The feat was immortalised in the 1963 Hollywood blockbuster featuring Steve McQueen and other superstars of the day. Men who spoke German and other languages fluently were given priority as they had a better chance of making it alive through enemy territory. Dad learned some German in the POW camp but his escape number was over 100 so he wasn't in the tunnel when it was discovered.
Months later, in late January 1945, all the prisoners were suddenly evacuated from the camp on a forced march because the Russians were only 30 miles away. All the POWS (and the guards) had been on meagre rations for sometime and were given just an hour to pack as much as they could carry of their possessions and food to last them for an unknown duration. They left at 1.15am, it was -25°C with brilliant moonlight on the snow. They tramped 63 kilometres in 41 hours including only 15 hours rest in a barn, humping a heavy load under the most difficult conditions. Alec described himself as completely and utterly exhausted. By the time they were loaded onto cattle trucks (38 men to each truck in pitch dark), they had walked 96km (60 miles) in three days. Many had fallen sick by the wayside with pneumonia, pleurisy, frostbite and old injuries re-asserting themselves. Eventually they reached Marlag und Milag Nord (Tarnstedt) sometime in early February. .
Lines Written in the Sunshine, Fl/Lt Alec Bristow, Tarnstedt 25/3/45
Sing on sweet lark, delight me with your music
Your freedom holds the essence of our dreams
High o'er my captive soul, you preach of beauty
Winging it back to England - shady streams
and other glories sacrificed for duty
Towards the end of April, they were forced to march again, this time to Lubeck. En route, several POWs were accidentally killed by RAF strafing(machine gun fire from low flying aircraft). Each day they were receiving news that more cities had been captured by the allies, the end of the war seemed close. German 'hausfraus' were sympathetic and helpful, often happy to exchange eggs, hot water and even hot wine, for cigarettes, coffee and fragments of chocolate. At last, on 2nd May, he was liberated by the 11th Armoured Division.
He eventually arrived back in the UK on 7th May 1945, so the day before VE Day 75 years ago. Not surprisingly, he valued his freedom, and the freedom of others regardless of their nationality, right up until he died in 1990.
My mother-in-law, Violet Watkins (nee Rampton), aged 97 and now living in Woking remembers VE Day with mixed feelings. She was 16 when WWII broke out and married Ken mid-war on 5th February 1944 (see image left). Ken was a high-speed telegrapher in the RAF, specialising in Morse Code. He was working in Exhibition Road, which she says was 'a tuppenny bus ride from where I lived in North Kensington”.
Her two youngest brothers, Ron (now 92) and Vic (now 87), who both now live with their wives in Plymouth, had been evacuated to Nailsea after the Blitz and she spent a few months down there too but couldn’t wait to get back to London.
From the end of April 1945, she knew the War was coming to a close with the daily announcements of new victories, the trial and execution of Mussolini, Adolf Hitler’s suicide followed by the demise of many other Nazi leaders.
She recalls “I spent VE Day partying in Piccadilly Circus with my older brother Fred. Trafalgar Square was pulsating with dancing and singing, and everyone was hugging and kissing each other. I was hugely relieved that Ken would be in less danger with the War ended, and that Ron and Vic could return to London and would be spared conscription onto active duty. But there was sadness and regret for all the lost friends and family who’d died during the last 6 years and my older brother Charlie was still fighting in Burma, so of course I was worried for him.”
Although Violet saysChurchill’s speeches were always a great inspiration, she can't remember his victory speech at all (a wonder she can recall much at 97) and she later heard that the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were severely reprimanded for going along and mingling with the crowd, but she didn’t see them.
By commemorating the brave actions of our ancestors and predecessors, we hope nurture a sense of gratitude and connection with our history, thereby bringing balance and wellbeing into their lives.
Harmony Healing activities are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life. If you are looking for spiritually enlightening activities during lockdown, Joanna offers distant intuitive readings (past life and/or aura readings) and distant 1-2-1 healings and virtual healing shares. We also have meditations available.
A number of virtual courses are now ready and starting this month, details on Harmony Healing Virtual Events. Currently, due to Coronavirus, most events will be virtual hence distant readings and healings are proving popular. We don't recommend giving a reading or healing to another person, without first checking whether it would be welcomed.
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