A regular column by Tulip Radio’s Jan Whitbourn.
Recently we attended a celebratory event for the work we have done as part of a project undertaken as part of the Armed Forces Community Covenant.
The project involved interviewing many veterans of many conflicts around the world over the last 70 years. We also asked these veterans about their life after service and the difficulties they faced re-integrating back into ‘civvie street’. We were fortunate to be able to speak extensively with several WW2 veterans, all of whom spoke very movingly and with much humility about the job they had done on our collective behalf all those years ago. We spoke to more recent service veterans from Christmas Island, from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF. We heard some very surprising tales of service life and how many had their futures mapped out even before they had left National Service. All spoke of the fantastic camaraderie they had enjoyed with fellow comrades in arms and whether their service took place in wartime or relative peace time, all recalled their time with much affection – even if sometimes they couldn’t exactly see the point of their respective missions!
The event was hosted by Harold Payne of the Anglia Motel who has raised over £700,000 towards helping local veterans over the years and who still regularly helps return old comrades to Normandy as part of the D-Day commemorations each year.
We recently also attended a small event at the Anglia Motel in Fleet at which two local veterans recalled just how cold the winter of 1944 was when they were billeted under canvas, one in Northern Italy and one in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Their experiences are a sobering thought when we all take for granted our centrally heated homes well insulated against whatever the British weather can throw at us.
You can hear all the interviews we undertook as part of this project by following the podcast link on our website www.tulip-radio.co.uk and find the Armed Forces Community Covenant section.