Today we saw the excellent concert of celebration in Trafalgar square.
Sentimental memories abounded and reminded me of how little people finding we would have if it were not for those nostalgic thoughts of associations long past.
When the guns fell silent most of us had been in the thick of it and we were not celebrating in the UK at all but amongst those that were at home were the many people who had sustained us through it all.
Those days brought people into contact much more intensely than in peace time and then they seperated just as quickly.
Of those relationships were teenage first time romances with the girl in your home community that you couldn’t give up but which had to exist from one short leave to another.
No normal single young serviceman wanted to be without his pinup. Noone wanted to be without relationships that had meant so much to them in their hour of need during short leaves.
“Find an old friend” is frequently hearing from people who want to know what happened to that sweetheart from so long ago. They subsequently were not relationships that stood the test of time for people were often so young and immature and unsuited to each other but nevertheless they helped so many individuals at the time who just wanted someone of their own age to care about them.
I really feel sad when it is impossible to find such a person after so long for practical reasons. I know how these enquirers feel and can understand their memories of long ago and they will always get a sympathetic word on this website.
This story is in thanks to a girl I knew called Elaine Cresswell who was my forces sweetheart and she will not mind having her name on the web. In WW2 apart from my own family she was the girl I was fighting for.
Unlike the grammer school types I used to bike around with in the small town comminity of Herne Bay Elaine was different in that it was a really down to earth working class Medway towns atmosphere.
We were both only 16 when my Dad put me to work in Shorts aircraft factory in Rochester hoping to both give me a career and safety from conscription later into the armed forces. It gave me neither but it gave me Elaine because I lodged with family friends next door to her on the small council estate at Frindsbury overlooking the whole of the Medway area up on the cliffs. I walked out of the factory in 6 weeks and it must have been very hard on my Dad but I found a friendship that has lasted due to a strange accident right to this very day.
She was a very straightforward caring person. Very uncomplicated but kind and loyal and I felt that she was my pride and joy in a very disturbing and uncertain world. Elaine was so proud of her little Sapper that she only occasionally saw after I joined up a year later and I was so proud of her as she was so brave about one of her brothers who had been killed as sgt navigator in a bomber.
Our respective families were very understanding and we were only teenagers. I was so lucky for 12 weeks that I did my basic sapper training only just over the river in Chatham and many were the hours that we sat on the local green near her home looking down on the view of Rochester Castle and the cathedral as the evening lights came on. It was truly romantic.
Then the church would ring 10 and I would have to trot down the hill to the bridge to run into Kitchener barracks before the half hour. Then for the next 4 years until I went to Berlin at the age of 20 Elaine and I would write to each other at least twice a week which is something like 400 letters each until we just grew out of each other and even lost touch for at least 30 years. We had even been engaged for 3 years so serious did it seem.
Everytime the post came in from Normandy to Germany I would eagerly long for that mail. Elaine had taken me safely through the war and I was so lucky to ever see her again. We met by accident about 20 years ago when I had to visit someone with my sales work who lived in the road where she had moved to after her marriage.
“Hello Robin”, a little voice said and I couldn’t believe it.
I walked over to her gate and was so pleased to hear she was married to another Sgt in the army and had two daughters and had been out to the Far East with him. I knew I had once let her down in a way but she never bore me a grudge and so I felt really happy that such a nice person had found happiness after all she did for me.
I was lucky as I hadn’t needed a findanoldfriend website to look for what had happened to her. Then we had the occasional phonecall and Xmas card until I heard her husband had had a heart attack and died so sadly when he was relatively young & in the course of working in the area again I called on this little grey lady so we can still remain friends and I can commiserate with her and you know people look different but they still talk with the same voice even when they are older. It was just great to still have such a good friend from the war.
Elaine deserved much better but she still has a very supportive family in the area. I’m glad she didn’t remain a Creswell very long and I hope she will enjoy reading this blog.
Like my dear wife Valerie of 40 years, she was a girl you could really trust and she really was my forces sweetheart.
So everytime I get a call to find someone from WW2 who might still be around you will know I really understand and share with you that need to remember the past.