Dad’s letters – May to August 1945

2014-06-07 08.37.30

One proud young fella and his beret (now owed by proud son)

Another instalment of my father’s letters to my mother and what a rollercoaster three months this period covers. First up there’s some hard training in Derbyshire, then the excitement of the first jump and the trepidation of a posting to the Far East to join in the attack on Japan; and then the post VJ Day anti-climax , spent in Beverley in Yorkshire and apparently hated by all. The letters cover the VE Day period too and more fretting over combing leave – already Dad is showing his overprotective side (which everyone who knew him both benefited from and was irritated by) when Mum talks about seeking a posting to post-War Europe.

The first jump, though, is the highlight. He makes light of it and says he hasn’t had time to write any poems but in fact he did; he wrote one to his mother which, later, he wanted her to destroy. She gave it to Mum on the promise she wouldn’t let Dad know she had it. Written when he was 18, on the fear he felt on his first jump, I read it for the first time three days after he died. I read it out at his funeral. I type it now with a lump in my throat.

A Paratrooper’s Prayer

When I’m flying at seven hundred

And the red light flickers on

I know I’ll tremble and start to sweat

But, God, let me be strong.

When I look down through the hole, God

It’s like I’m standing by a grave

And my knees go weak and I can’t speak

Then, God, please make me brave.

And if it be Thy will, God

Part of Thine own Great Plan

That my life should stop, then on that last long drop

Oh God, let me die a man!

While I’m waiting to emplane, God

And checking my jumping kit

Though I laugh and jeer I’m full of fear

But, God, don’t let me quit.

When the kite begins to move, God

And take off time is near

Then my heart grows cold – God, make me bold

And drive away my fear.

He never thought himself other than a lucky man to be in the Paras and the people he met there were major influences in his life for sure, but the core sentiment he expresses here – not showing how weak he feels inside – dominated his life until late on when he realised that showing emotion wasn’t a bad or weak thing. He was a lovely man but, oh, I wish he hadn’t been quite so buttoned up until it was almost too late.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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4 Responses to Dad’s letters – May to August 1945

  1. Sohrab says:

    Wow Geof that brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye – incredible poetry and completely describes his bravado and his faith Wonderful discovery

    Like

  2. TanGental says:

    Thanks Sohrab; Dad would be touched (now) that someone liked what he had written. And I’m delighted to give his words an airing; they deserve it.

    Like

  3. gpcox says:

    You father was braver than he thought. My dad always said, only a fool would claim he wasn’t afraid in combat. That person was either a liar or crazy – you know your father was neither. He was a true soldier!

    Like

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