The Last Remembrance

Chris decided long ago that he could no longer endure the Ceremony of Remembrance parades and services.  It was too much for him.  He knew that he would break down and weep copious tears, sobbing at all of the memories that he could not set aside.  He could never forget!

Instead, each year, he went on his normal morning walk and found a quiet spot, apart from all human presence, and there he would remember his friends, and his enemies.  Not all had died young, not all had died in battle.  Some had not died, at least not straight away.

He remembered two young men.  They had all just returned to camp after manoeuvres and were told they could not go home until all the vehicles had been cleaned and put away.  One young man was newly married with a two week old baby.  He persuaded his friend to take him home in his car.  It wouldn’t take long, and they could be back before anybody noticed they were missing.  The car was sporty, high powered, and had a roll bar fitted.  The young driver entered a bend far too fast, lost control, and rolled the car.  It hit a tree.  The roll bar saved the life of the driver but decapitated the young father.

He remembered two young Corporals, erecting an aerial mast on top of a vehicle in Germany, right underneath a very high voltage cable.  One walked away with very serious burns, the other had horrendous burns and lost a leg and large portions of muscle mass.  Chris had the job of taking inventory of the burned vehicle and its contents and then visiting the worst injured once he left hospital to tell him that he no longer had a job but there was good news, his promotion to Sergeant had come through!

He remembered a young man who shot himself in the chest but survived, only to shoot himself in the head once he was back at work.

He remembered running for his life, literally, when it seemed that everyone wanted him dead, when all around him were falling, screaming, dying.  He would not forget!

He stood as usual, at 11am, at attention, alone.  He remembered.  How could he do anything else?

After two minutes of silence, of remembering, of trying to forget, he saluted, fell, and joined his comrades!

All at sea – Flying through the air, with, and without, the aid of a helicopter.

Originally published on 27/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

This is part of a recollection of “Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

Number 2, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay, and 3, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter can be recounted together because normally, when you go on a journey, you want to end up back where you started!

When I was posted to Gibraltar we (The Army) often entertained Royal Naval personnel when they had shore leave. We invited them to functions in the various messes (Officers Mess/Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess/Other ranks Mess, and we invited them to dine with us, often arranging a special dinner.

 In return, they reciprocated, and we were often invited on board ship.

 I came to know several of the Petty Officers of HMS Charybdis quite well, during 1976. I was invited to spend time at sea with the ship, in an exchange with a member of the ship’s crew, where we swapped jobs for a few days.

hms charybdis Life on board a Royal Naval vessel is unlike anything you may imagine. Space is at a premium and everything has to be stowed away to maximise space, and to ensure there are no hazards created by loose gear.

 Before departing from any port, the ship must be fully provisioned with fuel, stores, ammunition, food, and a myriad of items you wouldn’t even begin to think of. This is to ensure that, should the vessel be called upon to sail into conflict, or to aid others, it can proceed immediately, without having to stock up first. There is a good deal of manual labour involved in this, and the whole ships company (of 260 in this case) is put to work, less a few essential personnel. It is hard work, and I experienced it!

 Imagine having to stock a freezer so you can retrieve food, to feed 260 hungry people for 2 months, when you can only reach things right at the front. Just where do you put all those potato sacks, carrots, toilet rolls, extra large cans, butter, fat, oil, flour, spices. The list is huge, as is the quantity. You cannot run out.

 I shall not go into disposal of waste, recycling, or what can, under international law, be discharged into the sea. I mention it only because sometimes it flies off the ship!

 Whilst at sea it is sometimes necessary to load, or offload personnel, or materiel.

 This may be for changes in personnel, removal of severely ill, or deceased, replenishment of food, fuel, supplies, and the removal of waste for disposal, or recycling.

 The Royal Navy is supported at sea by Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

The RFA is staffed by civilians, and they have a variety of ships that can supply fuel and stores, effect repairs at sea, and even supply hospital facilities. They have a helicopter on board, and also cranes mounted on either side.

 Most modern warships have a helicopter on board, or a helipad that can receive a visiting helicopter so stores can be transferred from one vessel to another by underslung load. However, there is a restriction on how much weight can be carried that way, and it is an expensive method of resupply.

 The alternative method of transfer is by Jackstay, a method of using ropes and pulleys to carry personnel and materiel between vessels.
jackstay trfs

The light jackstay, employing human power, is used for transferring personnel, provisions, and light stores with a maximum load of about 250kg. The hauling end of the jackstay is manned by up to 25 hands. The other end is secured by a grommet strop to slip in the receiving ship. A traveller block is hauled back and forth along the jackstay wire by an in–haul rope in the receiving ship and an out–haul rope in the delivering ship manned by up to six crew in each ship. Working distance limits are normally between 24–61 meters with a normal working distance of about 34 meters.

 The heavy Jackstay, uses steel ropes for transfer of heavier loads, or to support feed pipes during transfer of fuel or water. Normally a powered winch is used.

 The ropes are passed from one ship to the other by first firing a thin twine by rifle and pulling this across, with increasing thickness of twine, then cord, then rope.

 Ships are unstable platforms when stopped in most seas and it is extremely dangerous to bring two ships directly alongside one another. All transfers are therefore done with the ships steaming side by side, in to the wind, at a distance determined by the state of the seas. It is a hazardous operation and constant adjustment is needed to ensure identical speed, and to ensure the distance between vessels does nor vary. The procedure needs to be practiced often to ensure the crew knows exactly what to do when the need arises. It is the ultimate in team work!

 This is how I came to “volunteer” for my first, and only, experience of transfer at sea by Jackstay, and return by helicopter. I was one of a dozen.

 Having watched others being hauled across from Charybdis to another visiting Frigate, it was soon my turn. Apart from a little dampness from sea spray I arrived safely on the other ship and was hurried along to the stern to jump into the helicopter for the return trip. This was only my second flight in a helicopter. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, but was very exhilarating!

 Flights by small helicopter are normally from, and to, a stable surface, and the take off pattern is normally a vertical lift into the air, transferring into forward flight whilst gaining height. Larger helicopters use a running takeoff and landing whenever possible.

 Taking off from, and landing on, a ship at sea, entails a helipad moving at quite a speed, often with buffeting wind, and large chunks of solid metal very close by. It is a very specialised skill!

 On take off, the aircraft has to rise off the pad and move to the left, or right, immediately moving away from the vessel.

 Landing is the more difficult skill. The helicopter must approach the vessel from the rear and then fly, at the speed of the ship, slightly to the left or right of the helipad. It then has to move slowly across so that it is hovering above the pad, but is, in fact, still flying forwards at the speed of the vessel. It must then drop down on to the moving deck, immediately ceasing forward flight.

 Naval pilots, I salute you!

 To the crews of both vessels, Thank you for not getting me wet!charybdis.jpg

 

HMS Charybdis was affectionately  called “The Cherry B.” Hence the cherry tree on the ship’s plaque.

 

 

 

Light Jackstay information courtesy of: MacFarlane, John M. (2013) Jackstay Transfer (Replenishment) at Sea. Nauticapedia.ca 2013. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Jackstay_Transfer.php

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

This is a reblog of a series I started in October 2017. I thought I should resurrect it in order to attempt to get it completed. Perhaps it could take the place of my Lundi limerick series.

Peter's pondering

I had this random thought that I have done a few things in my life that the average person will never experience.  I thought I would write a post entitled:

“Ten things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.” It developed a little like this:

TenElevenTwelveThirteenFourteenFifteenSixteenSeventeenEighteen Nineteen Twenty things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

I arranged them in reverse alphabetical order, just for the sake of it! Then I thought of an added one, or four. So, here we have:

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

  1. Travelled down the Rhine on a Duck
  2. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay
  3. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter
  4. Spent time in a prison cell
  5. Sat in a Harrier Jump Jet
  6. Rowed in a coxed 4 at sea
  7. Regularly travelled to work by helicopter
  8. Qualified as a helicopter…

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Song Lyric Sunday – May 31 2020 – Mint from the 60’s

song-lyric-sundayJim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. I’m pretty sure that this one will be unfamiliar to the majority, including me!

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

With Jim’s prompt this week I just could not get away from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme so I had to start trying to think laterally.  I came up with a song title from the psychedelic era, Incense and Peppermints, recorded in 1967. OK, it’s not Mint, but it is a type of mint.

I’m not going to try to analyse the song, or the group, or the era. It is what it is. You either get it, or you don’t. You may like it, even though you don’t get it! This was happening in the USA in 1967 while on the other side of the world, in Vietnam, 11,363 American soldiers were being killed in that one year!

I’m pretty sure that the group,  Strawberry Alarm Clock, were very self conscious dressed up for this performance, but, would you believe it, the group  carried on and on, with a couple of breaks, and is still performing today!

There are two videos, the first is a TV recording from 1967.

and the second carries a flashing lights warning for epilepsy sufferers or anyone suffering from migraines. It has lots of psychedelic flashing colours.

 

 

I hope you enjoy:

Incense and Peppermint

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define
Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win but nothin’ to lose

Incense and peppermints, meaningless nouns
Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around

Look at yourself, look at yourself, yeah, yeah
Look at yourself, look at yourself, yeah, yeah, yeah!

To divide this cockeyed world in two
Throw your pride to one side, it’s the least you can do
Beatniks and politics, nothing is new
A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win but nothin’ to lose

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define
Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win but nothin’ to lose

Incense and peppermints
Incense and peppermints

Sha la la, sha la la, sha la la, sha la la, sha la la

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: John Carter / Timothy P. Gilbert

Incense And Peppermints lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

How my home movie became a MAGA hit — Living in the future present

For a glimpse of mid 1970’s America, especially California, you will find this a fascinating read. There is the benefit of seeing  a good old fashioned “home movie”, although a very highly sophisticated one, if you follow the link:

The spirit of 77 in Los Angeles

In the mid 1970s, I worked as an exchange teacher in a California high school. It was an exciting and formative year for me and my family. 1976 was the bicentenary of American independence, and signs and flags everywhere announced “Spirit of ’76”. There was a palpable feeling of optimism. The Vietnam war was over, […]

via How my home movie became a MAGA hit — Living in the future present

Song Lyric Sunday 04/08/2019 – Song from a TV Show

img_1345-3

tygpress

Thank you to Jim Adams, who hosts Song Lyric Sunday and gives us the chance to share lots of familiar, and some not so familiar, songs.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

The theme for this week posed a bit of a problem for me as I could quite happily live without television in my life!

I was 14 when we first had a television. Black and white of course, and only one channel. At 16, I joined the army and went to college for 3 years. No television. At 19 I deployed to the Middle East. No television. At 21 I went to Germany. Very little television. My daughter grew up with Sesame Street in German. So it goes on. I watched TV intermittently. Today, if the television is on, the chances are that I am reading blogs rather than watching it.

However, I think it is impossible to be untouched by television. I have seen a fair selection along the way, and one thing I MUST see, when it is on, is Later……with Jools Holland. He is a consummate musician and performer in his own right and , over the years, has introduced a gargantuan list of artists of every genre imaginable, and then some! You can see the list here.  

So I thought here we have a huge number of songs I can use for my SLS choice this week.

WRONG!

Instead, I suddenly thought of one show that I found to be both funny, thought provoking, and, at times, downright sad!

M*A*S*H (an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) was an American war comedy-drama television series that aired on CBS from 1972 to 1983. It was developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H, which, in turn, was based on Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The series, which was produced with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS, follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the “4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War (1950–53). The show’s title sequence features an instrumental-only version of “Suicide Is Painless,” the original film’s theme song. The show was created after an attempt to film the original book’s sequel, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, failed. The television series is the best-known of the M*A*S*H works, and one of the highest-rated shows in U.S. television history. (wikipedia)

This was, of course, being shown at the time of the Vietnam War, and was highly controversial. What started out as a comedy, with drama overtones soon became a drama with added comedy!

It’s a long time ago now, but I seem to remember that the “squaddie” humour really came across well, and could evoke real feelings of sadness, even the odd tear or two.

Suicide Is Painless is a song written by Johnny Mandel (music) and Michael Altman (lyrics). It was the theme song for both the movie and TV series M*A*S*H.

Director Robert Altman had two stipulations about the song for Mandel: it had to be called “Suicide Is Painless” and it had to be the “stupidest song ever written”. Altman attempted to write the lyrics himself, but upon finding it too difficult for his 45-year-old brain to write “stupid enough,” he gave the task to his 14-year-old-son Michael, who wrote the lyrics in five minutes. Ironically, the son’s income from royalties for the song far exceeded his father’s income for the film.

So here it is. The Tongue-in-cheek theme song for the very sad tongue in cheek comedy about the Korean war. The film was released in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam war, and the TV series debuted in 1972, appealing to the growing anti war crowd, lasted 11 years, and was arguably one of the most successful series ever.

The TV series used instrumental versions of the song only.

Suicide Is Painless

Johnny Mandel

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say

Suicide is painless (suicide)
It brings on many changes (changes)
And I can take or leave it if I please

The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger
Watch it grin

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied oh why ask me?

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

And you can do the same thing if you please

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Johnny Mandel / Michael B Altman

Suicide Is Painless lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

 

 

Seventy Five Years In The Passing: A D-Day Tribute — Gloria Smud

This needs no introduction whatsoever, other than to say what a wonderful tribute it is.

Seventy Five Years In The Passing..A D-Day Tribute. Seventy five years in the passing, The 6th of June; brave troops amassing. Nobody knew how countless would pay, For saving our souls that proud D-Day. From hillsides, valleys, towns & moors, They set off, leaving British shores. A rendezvous of military purpose, They called it Piccadilly…

via Seventy Five Years In The Passing: A D-Day Tribute — Gloria Smud

Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 12/05/2019 – Mom/ Mother/ Flowers

img_1345-3Thank you to Jim Adams, who tirelessly hosts Song Lyric Sunday and gives us the chance to share lots of favourite, and some not so familiar, songs.

The theme for this week is Mom/Mother/Flowers

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

Obviously the theme this week is to help celebrate Mother’s Day, and today, 12th March we celebrate the most important people on the planet in the following countries:

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan,Bonaire, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, CaymanIslands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Cuba, Curaasao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein,Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Pakistan, Papa New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzinia, Tonga, Trinidadand Tobago, Turkey, Uganada, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

As it is not Mother’s Day in the UK, or Mothering Sunday as my Mum would always point out to me, I am going to be self-indulgent and choose a song from my youth. I might even choose 2!

If you are a Mom, Mum, Mother, Ma, Mummy, or any other version of the name that epitomises the one person in the world that we can none of us do without, “Thank You” for your unique gift of life that you gave to us all. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Please sit back, and enjoy some flowers in the rain, played by The Move (the first pop song to be played, in full, on BBC Radio 1):

Flowers in the Rain

The Move

Woke up one morning half asleep
With all my blankets in a heap
And yellow roses scattered all around
The time was still approaching four
I couldn’t stand it anymore
Saw marigolds upon my eiderdown

I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good

So I lay upon my side
With all the windows open wide
Couldn’t pressurise my head from speaking
Hoping not to make a sound
I pushed my bed into the grounds
In time to catch the sight that I was seeking

I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good

If this perfect pleasure has to be
Then this is paradise to me
If my pillow’s getting wet
I don’t see that it matters much to me

I heard the flowers in the breeze
Make conversation with the trees
Relieved to leave reality behind me
With my commitments in a mess
My sleep has gone away depressed
In a world of fantasy you’ll find me

I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good

Watching flowers in the rain
Flowers in the rain
Power flowers in the rain
Flower power in the rain

Songwriters: WOOD ROY

Flowers in the Rain lyrics © S.I.A.E. Direzione Generale, Essex Music Inc., ESSEX MUSIC INC

The bonus is the song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips, of The Mamas and Papas,  and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was released in May 1967, to promote the Monterey Pop Festival. Many young people, who would have wished to be there, were far away from the love and the music, fighting, and dying, in Vietnam. A few of their Moms will still be alive, so, today, I think of them.

 

Song Lyric Sunday Theme – for 03/03/2019

img_1345-3Thank you to Jim, who who has now adopted the fabulous Song Lyric Sunday, taking over from Helen Vardati who started this amazing weekly chance to share lots of favourites, and some not so familiar songs.

Helen rightly says SLS is a community, and no longer belongs to her, and Jim agrees that he does not own it, he just hosts it, and very well too if I may say so!

I know that we all hope to see Helen back in the blogging world as soon  as she is ready. Thank you so much, Helen, for creating, and developing Song Lyric Sunday.

The theme for this week is Occupation and you can find all the great entries here.

I haven’t a single song in my collection that has the word occupation in its title, and anything that I could find online just would not do.

I have, therefore, gone with my occupation for over 28 years and offer, for your enjoyment, Soldier’s Song, issued in 1980 by The Hollies. This song was written by Mike Batt, who created The Wombles! Such a pity that he is remembered more for that, than for all the fantastic songs he wrote, and for all his great musical productions.

Soldier’s Song is Bitter Sweet and tells the story of a young soldier, going off to war, who is taken in by a more mature lady.  She takes pity on him and wishes to “make a man of him” before he dies in battle. He doesn’t die, and returns, only to find that the lady has been raped and killed in the drunken rampages of his fellow victors.

Lyrics

The smoke was slowly rising as the light began to fade
There were fires on the skyline from some distant border raid
There I was riding out at seventeen to join my first brigade
Many years ago

And I chanced upon a farmhouse where the woman took me in
She gave me food and wine she gave me shelter from the wind
She delayed me from my regiment and service of my king
Many years ago

She said, “Soldier before I lose you to the fight
Oh, my soldier, I’ll make a man of you tonight”
She took me over in the fading fire glow
On that wild and misty night she was my woman

When I rose next morning I was gone before she stood
Tore myself away from there and left without a word
The sound of distant infantry was the only sound I heard
On that morning

And in that day I aged ten years and died a thousand deaths
I learned the feel of frozen steel and fear within my breast
But the lesson I’ll remember till they lay me to my rest
Keeps returning

She said, “Soldier before I lose you to the fight
Oh, my soldier, I’ll make a man of you tonight”
She took me over in the fading fire glow
On that wild and misty night she was my woman

And when the dice of war were thrown and victory was won
My drunken young compatriots went out to have their fun
And there was no single house they didn’t burn or overrun on that evening

And I rode out to that place again as hard as I could ride
But I found her by the cradle on that lonely mountainside
In the hands of those brave friends of mine she suffered and she died
Many years ago

“Soldier before I lose you to the fight”
She said, “Soldier I’ll make a man of you tonight”
She took me over in the fading fire glow
On that wild and misty night she was my woman

Songwriters: Mike Batt

Soldier’s Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

As a bonus I’m offering Tin Soldier by Small Faces.

 

#WeRemember

There are still lessons to be learned, as hatred and bigotry are still widespread in all countries. It was reported today that 1 in 10 in the UK do not believe the Holocaust happened. Thank you to Kelly for the reminder.

Kelly With A Why

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and marks the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I thought it was a fitting time to recount my visit to the Sydney Jewish Museum back in November.

The museum was established in 1992 by the generation of Holocaust Survivors who settled in Australia. This very special place continues to give a voice to the victims of the Holocaust, so their individual and collective stories can spark dialogues and inspire change. As well as preserving and documenting this important historical period, the museum also beautifully illustrates the richness of Jewish life in Australian society. The ground floor displays teach many aspects of Jewish faith and traditions. This Gentile found it fascinating.

The Holocaust exhibition stretches across three levels of the building, and details the persecution and murder of European Jewry from 1933-1945. The events of Hitler’s WWII are described in chronological order…

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