Please follow the link. You might be inspired by what you find!
The story of our family is one of exile. Two world wars dominated the social experience of successive generations in the 20th century, and my family was no exception. Exactly how we came to be diametrically the opposite side of the world from our parents in my early years, is the story I have to tell.
My paternal Grand-father had a bad experience. He was at the Somme in the First World War, was gassed, by our own side, and invalided out. His breathing never recovered properly, and TB took him later in life, at the age of barely 50 years. My Father and Uncle were fortunate to have a Father but sorely disadvantaged with my Grand-father's reduced capacity to work. The welfare state was still a long way off. My Father knew full well what had brought his Father down, and vowed always to settle differences by peaceful means. As the country prepared to do it all again in 1939, my Father actively sought to reconcile the gulf between the factions which took Europe and the world back into war. My Father and Mother met while they were both engaged in this important work of reconciliation.
As a School teacher, my Father converged with many of the young people evacuated from Britain's cities and had a caring role for many who were away from their homes, their families, parents and the familiar surroundings of their tender years. The life they led in the country was demanding, with shortages and rationing featuring strongly in the lives of everyone in the war years. In 1941 Mother and Father were married and by 1943 a family had started with the birth of my eldest brother.
The subsistence life of growing their own food, the country school and internal exile
came to an abrupt end three years later, when my Father was ousted from his job. The war-time community was broken up, as many of the Evacuees met with even bigger shocks, being deported and cleared from this country as child migrants, to the far corners of the now-defunct Empire, because no one had the energy or application to restore these displaced people to the lost world of their early child-hoods. We were making way for the heroes of World War II, back to inherit the spoils of war and rule the roost of a country which was in big trouble, having been unable to feed its population for years.
Exile was the destiny of our family also, as the grim realities of not being able to feed a family of four and no prospect of work as the armed forces demobilised on a massive scale and swept the country with their demands on the services and their own needs as heroes. We set sail for Papua New Guinea in 1947, a journey of three months and our lives were tangential from the post-war Britain of conquerors, for the next 20 years.
Life for us in New Guinea could not be more different. As the youngest son, I remember fresh fruit straight from the tree, a scorching hot sun year-round, torrential rains, dangerous snakes and crocodiles and huge breakers on the shores of a beach which we had to ourselves on most afternoons. This was all to come to an end, as we returned to school in England and our parents continued their work for a young Commonwealth territory which was approaching independence.
Post-war Britain was bleakly austere, but change was on the way and the youth of the 60s had their own take on what life could be like. The progenitors of austerity had to make room for a new generation with new aspirations. After an exile of 20 years we were coming home to roost.
Forty years later, the evacuees have also moved on. The child migrants may not know who they are, not know where they came from, but their legacy, though not told, bears down upon those who seized the ascendancy and sent them into exile - a story which each of them has to tell of how their heritage was stolen from them never to be returned. They too are coming home to haunt the perpetrators of war and the self-serving ways of those who won the war but lost the peace.
COMMENTS (0)FLAG | ALERT | FAVORITE