Thursday, 6 November 2014

Jeep Spade


A few years ago, when we had a stall at Chirk Car Boot, O/H used to leave me manning the stall, while he went for a 'mosey' around everyone else's. This one day he came back with a  half rusty spade. It had quite a short stale and was about 3 feet in length, the T bar  and the stale had worn white in places where the green  paint had flaked away. He propped it against our stall table and off he went. Not long after a dear white haired old man, in checked flat cap and trailing rain coat stopped by for a chat - people often did. He spotted the spade. He leant heavily on his walking stick and his eyes twinkled as he instantly recognised it.
'That's a Jeep spade.'
He picked it up and turned it over in his hands.
'We used to use them when I was out in Burma.'
With that he made pretend movements as he showed me how the soldiers used to dig trenches and make 'dugouts' for their night's shelter. His stories were wonderful. The next time he came by he told me that he was going into a care home for a fortnight.'I'll come and see you in a couple of weeks,' he said.
I never saw him again.
Another wonderful old war veteran is Mr Jones. He lives in the neighbouring property to my sister-in-law. He's in his nineties now. My sister-in-law and her family often call in to see if he's OK and to give him a hand. He was also stationed in Burma during the war and loves to recount some of his memories.  This one particular night he recalls -
'I'd made a dugout with my Jeep spade and bedded down for the night. As it got toward morning, I felt something pressing  on my stomach, heavy like. It was starting to get half light. I opened my eyes and as I looked down, there was  a cobra's head inches away from my face. It had wrapped it's great huge body twice round me. Well I can tell you- scared the living daylights out of me, but I never flinched. I thought to myself, if I lie quiet when reveille goes and I'm not there, somebody will come looking. Sure enough ......



Where's Private Jones? They searched and there's me laid out like a statue. Fast as they could to they brought in one of the native boys. Quick as a flash he snapped his hand around the cobra's head and bent it backards.' Mr Jones let out a deep sigh of relief. ' If that cobra had have wrapped himself round me one more time, I would have been a dead 'un for sure.'

The campaign to oust Japanese occupation out of Burma was the longest and bloodiest of the whole of World War 11 lasting from 1941 until 1945



Sunday 9th November is Remembrance Sunday



20 comments:

  1. The Burma campaign was the worst, although nothing is good about war. Your stories are sweet.

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    1. We were babes in arms when the 2nd world war took place. We owe our troops and parents so much.

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  2. Your Remembrance Day is the 9th....ours is the 11th. I wonder why the difference?

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    1. Delores - our Remembrance Day is the 11th too - my mis-typing. The church memorial services are held on the Sunday nearest to the 11th and it's called Remembrance Sunday. A poignant time. I always feel tears welling up when the 2 minute silence is held and the Last Post played

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  3. Mr Jones of Wales? I'm sure I know him!

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    1. Yes, he would know Nantmawr well.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Sue - hope all is well with you in NZ xx

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  5. Very poignant and beautifully written Molly. I am wishing you a wonderful weekend :)

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    1. Thank you Keith. Have a good weekend too.

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  6. It is so interesting to talk to folks of that generation. My uncle would tell some lighter stories, but he went to his grave never speaking about the horrors of it all.

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    1. Yes it is. The old man who came to our stall at the car boot was an absolute treasure. I really missed him and often wonder if he's still alive.

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  7. I love the way you hand this remembrance post on something as ordinary as a jeep spade, Molly. It's so important to listen to these veterans' stories while we can. Even the WW2 generation is leaving us fast.

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  8. I think so too. My mother's best friend (she's in her nineties now) joined the ATS when she was little more than a teenager. I was so privileged to be able to spend some time with her. She had never been out of the village before and then she was posted in Belgium. Some of the jobs she was expected to do were quite gory. A precious moment for her came when she was serving tea in the NAAFI and suddenly her brother, who'd been called up earlier walked in through the door. She had no idea where he'd been posted and then suddenly there he was, standing in front of her. What a reunion they must have had. The human face and cost of war.

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  9. Hi Molly! I hope all is well and that you're staying warm!

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    1. Hi Keith, yes thank you - hope things are good for you too. The temperature's dropped a bit, bit lots of lovely sunshine today.

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  10. The old ‘uns are the best!

    Did you ever find out why ‘jeep’ spade?

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    1. Never thought to ask him, but I should imagine they were used a lot for getting grounded Jeeps out of trouble. I love my little spade - it's light and absolutely ace for shovelling soil or compost.

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  11. Great story. That poor fellow will never forget that night!

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    1. He loves to tell his stories and we never get tired of hearing them.

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