Forgotten Voices

Binnacle
10th November 2007, 09:47
I was a 14-year-old telegraph boy in London. I grew up very, very quickly because my job was basically delivering death telegrams.
The girls in the instrument room used to say to us, "this is a priority. It's death". When we came down the road, we used to see the curtains
go - they'd twitch - because we were feared. People knew our uniforms and they were scared of us. We were told to knock on either side of the house
we were delivering to - it was better for a neighbour to break the news, I suppose. I remember one occasion delivering a death telegram to a house
near Hammersmith Bridge. I saw the curtain twitch as I knocked on either side and the lady in question came out. "That's for me, isn't it ?" she said.
"Yes" I said and she just fainted. She fell on the ground. Her two little kiddies ran out and saw their mother lying there. What was I supposed to do ?
I was fourteen. I knew nothing. She hadn't even opened the telegram. I managed to get a neighbour to come along and we pulled her into the house.
The lady woke up and she and the neighbour opened the telegram. It was her husband - he'd been killed. I just stood there. I didn't know what to do.
When I got home that night, I told my mother and she cried as well.

Taped interview of Robert McGill telegraph delivery boy held by Imperial War Museum.
an extract from "Forgotten Voices of the Second World War"
ISBN 0091897343

ddraigmor
10th November 2007, 10:33
Poignant and also a stark reminder of Sunday.

Is it me or are there less red poppies on display on people's lapels this year? I noticed at work this week that onlya handful wore them....

Jonty

Hugh MacLean
10th November 2007, 14:51
It is difficult to imagine being in the shoes of that fourteen-year-old boy. Also those poor people behind the curtains, hoping he wasnt calling on them.

I went down town this afternoon after Jonty's post and I was disapointed to see that his observations were correct - not many people were wearing the poppy. If repeated throughout the land then, sadly, it seems that some have forgotten.

Regards

benjidog
10th November 2007, 17:43
I would not despair about this. There was an article in the newspaper this week to say that there were more crosses than ever placed at Westminster Abbey by children. Also poppies have been almost universally worn this week in the City of London where I have been working.

Furthermore, some people donate by direct payment to charities so that they can get benefit of tax as well - I do this for all my charity contributions rather than put money in a tin. Just because they don't wear a poppy does not necessarily mean they don't care.

Brian

K urgess
10th November 2007, 17:56
Have a poppy here on my desk. I buy one every year.
The clothes I wear don't have anywhere convenient to fix it.
This happens every year and I'm beginning to wonder if there's some sort of trick to fixing a poppy to a jacket without buttonholes that I haven't cracked yet.
They're not allowed to hand out pins anymore in case someone stabs themselves and then sues the British Legion.

Kris

David Davies
10th November 2007, 18:17
As Hon Branch Secretary of the Bury St Edmunds Royal Naval Association the information given to me on 7th Nov is that the street collction is over 2000 down on this time last year.

Chris Isaac
10th November 2007, 22:17
A new way of contributing is by texting POPPY to 85552 and an image of a poppy is on your mobile as wall paper.
All proceeds to Royal British Legion.

Harry Nicholson
10th November 2007, 23:00
[QUOTE=Binnacle;162341] (from a taped interview with a former telegraph messenger) I was a 14-year-old telegraph boy in London. I grew up very, very quickly because my job was basically delivering death telegrams.
The girls in the instrument room used to say to us, "this is a priority. It's death". When we came down the road, we used to see the curtains go - they'd twitch - unquote

I recall my mother saying that she first heard that she'd lost her fiance when a man on a bicycle peddled down her street shouting out 'Queen Mary lost with all hands'.
Her young man, Joe, was a stoker on the battlecruiser QM at Jutland.

cboots
11th November 2007, 04:19
It is not so much that people remember, or forget for that matter, but that they remember for the right reasons. ANZAC Day ceremonies here in Australia, our major remembrance effort, are increasing in popularity apparently, with large numbers of young people attending in recent years. The ANZAC Cove dawn ceremony is now well and truly on the backpacker must list of destinations but why? Just how many of those people attending are contemplating the appalling slaughter and waste of human life and the suffering that goes with it that result from war? Not a lot I would wager.
CBoots

Peter4447
11th November 2007, 18:38
CBoots

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and are not familiar with the ANZAC Cove dawn ceremony, could you give us some idea of what actually happens at this event that has led to it being added to the backpackers' must list of destinations.

Peter4447

KenLin39
11th November 2007, 20:26
(Thumb) [QUOTE=Harry Nicholson;162496]

Hello Harry
With all due respects, today is not a day for jokes, lets keep the jokes for the morning, cheers Bill

Hi Bill. Where is the joke in Harry's post. I read it as Harry meant it to be. Heartfelt sincerity. Ken.

benjidog
11th November 2007, 20:35
Bill,

I think you misunderstood Harry - this is the way it was and there is no joke there - in fact I can't think of anything further from being a joke.

I remember my mother telling me about the telegram boys and the dread that they brought with them during WW2.

Brian

Sister Eleff
11th November 2007, 21:16
When I first came to Australia (1974) I couldn't see a single poppy on 11/11 and that was the case for many years but gradually it came in as TV Newsreaders started wearing them. I still have never seen one for sale but heard that they were available in the Blue Mountains (NSW) - obviously I move in the wrong circles! I noticed on news stories that the politicians are wearing them so it seems to be coming in here.

I should add that Australia does not forget but their main remeberances are held on Anzac Day (25th April) with dawn services held around the country. Sprigs of Rosemary are worn at this time. Anzac Day is the anniversary of the first Australians landing at Gallipoli in WW1.

Chouan
11th November 2007, 22:26
Have a poppy here on my desk. I buy one every year.
The clothes I wear don't have anywhere convenient to fix it.
This happens every year and I'm beginning to wonder if there's some sort of trick to fixing a poppy to a jacket without buttonholes that I haven't cracked yet.
They're not allowed to hand out pins anymore in case someone stabs themselves and then sues the British Legion.

Kris

I've been offered pins with every poppy I've bought.

I have edited out your wholly unnecessary attempt at by-passing the site swearing filter software , Please use temperate language or not at all - David Tait Moderator

James_C
11th November 2007, 22:42
Chouan,
Then you must have bought Poppies from an old batch.
All poppies manufactured now are either on stickers, or have a plastic hook at the back to affix through a button hole.
They've stopped using pins due to both the cost and "Health and Safety" considerations.

Steve Woodward
11th November 2007, 23:13
Probably last years poppy if it had a pin

Gavin Gait
11th November 2007, 23:36
Harry , as everyone else except one , I could only read your original post in the manner you meant it. It certainally wasn't anything other than genuine tale of how things were at the time and never a joke.

Bill I think an apology is in order if not on here then by PM please.

Davie Tait(Thumb)

cboots
12th November 2007, 00:33
Peter, several posts above, asks me what I would attribute the growth in popularity of ANZAC Cove as a back packer destination to? Phew, don't ask me an easy one! I personnally have never been and, on the whole, I do not attend remembrance services, so I can only offer a view based on observation and reflection. A large part of it is curiosity plus a desire by the innovators to go where others have not, and by the immitators not to be seen to have missed out. Australians of all generations are addicted to travel, and it is travel with a capital T. We have taken over from the Americans tourism of the, "It's Tuesday, it must be Belgium," variety, so that plays a factor, but I believe there is more to it than that. What it certainly is not is a mass desire to pay respects to the victims of the carnage, certainly not judging by the reported conduct of many of the attendees which would be more akin to attendance at the opening of a pop festival than paying homage to the futility of war. A survey asking for details of what went on, who was there, why etc, would probably produce more blank stares than anything else. I have lived in Australia a long time, I am a citizen and well assimilated into the culture, I would even pass one of Mr. Howard's little tests. However, there is one little deeply buried facet of the Australian psyche that I have never been able to fathom and that is the collective desire to travel abroad to get oneself slaughtered in othe people's colonial wars. We are still doing it today, Iraq, Afghanistan, and where ever Washington decides is next on the list. It probably comes down to a lack of a national identity feeding into a national inferiority complex. Sorry to be so imprecise.
CBoots

wa002f0328
12th November 2007, 07:51
Please accept my sincere apologies Harry, read it the wrong way Cheers Bill(Thumb)

Gavin Gait
12th November 2007, 10:23
Thank you very much for the apology Bill , well done

Harry Nicholson
12th November 2007, 11:25
Please accept my sincere apologies Harry, read it the wrong way Cheers Bill(Thumb)

Thanks Bill.
I was thinking this morning that I might have been vague. 'Queen Mary' is of course a famous Cunarder. The QM that I was referring to was a battlecruiser that blew up at Jutland when a shell from the Seydlitz got among ammunition that was stored (to increase firing rate) just below the guns. There were just two or three survivors.

Watching the march past at the cenotaph yesterday on TV the commentator drew attention to a small group. He said they were survivors of the sinking off Norway WW2 of the carrier 'Glorious' and two destroyers (one the 'Acaster'). They were caught by pocket battleships and the destroyers sacrificed themselves trying to protect the carrier - to no avail. The BBC man said that the incident was still subject to a 100 year secrecy ruling. This intrigued me. Do any of you know what might be behind this ruling?

K urgess
12th November 2007, 11:34
Some questions are raised here (http://www.warship.org/no11994.htm), Harry.
He also quotes a book on the subject.
I did hear something about it yars ago but the grey matter being what it is I can't remember the source. [=P]
Kris

Chouan
12th November 2007, 12:49
My apologies for using the "B" word. I was annoyed at what I thought was another attempt at "PC" knocking, by the back door.

This year I've had many people selling poppies door to door, for the first time where I live, as well as at Supermarket entrances, my place of work etc, as usual, and all of them were selling poppies withj a card of pins. Indeed, I've not even seen one of the pinless poppies described above.

The remembrance ceremonies in the area where I live were very well attended yesterday. I'd be very interested to know why it has become so much more engaged with. Iraq and Afghanistan? or an increase in interest in family history?

whiskey johnny
12th November 2007, 13:06
sir
on the 8th of june 1940 the glorious ardent and the acastamet the german battleships scharnhorst and gneisenau.scharnhorstgot a torpedo fromacastawhich disabled the ship and ultima tely savedalot of other british ships.the stupid thing was that the swodfish planes from the glorious were not in the airthis is all from a book by gajus bekker a german naval historian and i can not understandthe secrecy while watching the cenotaph yesterday fhe first time the words merchant navy were heard was after 63 minutes when a lady said she was marching to honor her father who was torpedoed in the waranother thing three flagson the cenotaph no red duster anywhere and theRFA commodore in a army uniform

yours jan

Peter4447
12th November 2007, 13:13
Jan

Let us not forget that at exactly the same time as the Cenotaph service takes place, the Merchant Navy's own Service of Remembrace takes place just round the corner at the MN Memorial on Tower Hill.

Peter4447

Orbitaman
12th November 2007, 13:20
another thing three flagson the cenotaph no red duster anywhere and theRFA commodore in a army uniform

I beg to differ. The red Ensign was most definitely on the former F&C Office side of the cenotaph, the side from which the Queen and dignitaires appear.

Hamish Mackintosh
12th November 2007, 16:40
Have a poppy here on my desk. I buy one every year.
The clothes I wear don't have anywhere convenient to fix it.
This happens every year and I'm beginning to wonder if there's some sort of trick to fixing a poppy to a jacket without buttonholes that I haven't cracked yet.
They're not allowed to hand out pins anymore in case someone stabs themselves and then sues the British Legion.

Kris
We still get pins here in Canada(thank the lord that sillyness has not hit here yet)but my problem with poppies is keeping them ,sitting on the other side of the car from you guys the seat belt makes short work of taking them out

Binnacle
12th November 2007, 17:00
[QUOTE=Harry Nicholson

Watching the march past at the cenotaph yesterday on TV the commentator drew attention to a small group. He said they were survivors of the sinking off Norway WW2 of the carrier 'Glorious' and two destroyers (one the 'Acaster'). They were caught by pocket battleships and the destroyers sacrificed themselves trying to protect the carrier - to no avail. The BBC man said that the incident was still subject to a 100 year secrecy ruling. This intrigued me. Do any of you know what might be behind this ruling?[/QUOTE]

The reason for the secrecy IIRC was the circumstances of an event on HMS Courageous. The CO of the ship had made the decision to court martial the senior Air Officer aboard, who was RAF. You will recall that the aircraft aboard were unable to take off from the flight deck to defend the carrier against attack. There had been a disagreement between the Sen. Air Officer and the captain of Courageous. The Air Officer was advised by the captain that he would be court martialed when the vessel returned to UK waters. I believe the Air Officer objected to his aircraft being parked in a non operational manner. His views were contrary to the captain's. These Hurricane pilots, rather than abandon their aircraft on a frozen lake in Norway had bravely opted to return and do first time deck landings. IMHO revealing the circumstances of the proposed court martial would be extremely embarrasing to the British Admiralty and to the Captain's N.O.K. I would add that the Captain was without flying experience. Perhaps the Captain should have been the one that was court martialed. Sadly all these air crew went down with the ship. An incident the Admiralty would rather forget, all part of the shambles of the Norwegian campaign.

Chouan
12th November 2007, 22:53
All of this was in a TV programme some years ago, 1997? Channel 4's Secret History series, I think? So it can't be THAT secret! The overall impression was that Captain D'Oyly-Hughes, a WW1 submarine hero with only a few months carrier experience, and an arrogant and abrasive personality, couldn't stand any suggestion that he may not be absolutely correct in everything (rather reminds me of a few Old Men that I've known) and thus couldn't cooperate with his Air Group, or with the RAF people onboard, and wanted to get back to Britain asap to get his Air Group Commander Court Martialed asap. With his Air Group unable to issue orders, the aircraft were inoperable, and Glorious was thus caught napping by Scharnhorst.
That's the gist of the story as I understood it.

benjidog
12th November 2007, 23:42
Captain D'Oyly-Hughes, a WW1 submarine hero with only a few months carrier experience, and an arrogant and abrasive personality, couldn't stand any suggestion that he may not be absolutely correct in everything (rather reminds me of a few Old Men that I've known).

Reminds me of a few members of SN as well!

Brian

captkenn
12th November 2007, 23:45
Jan
Let us not forget that at exactly the same time as the Cenotaph service takes place, the Merchant Navy's own Service of Remembrace takes place just round the corner at the MN Memorial on Tower Hill.
Peter4447

In previous years there were representatives of both the MN and 'Merchant Air Services' at the Cenotaph as well as the one at Tower Hill. Surely it isn't too difficult the find MN personnel already.

Peter4447
13th November 2007, 00:05
I merely mentioned Tower Hill in response to Jan's post that he did not see a Red Ensign anywhere including on the Cenotaph itself. Perhaps one of our members may have actually been present in Whitehall and can advise on the presence of MN personnel.

Peter4447

Binnacle
14th November 2007, 10:41
I am always impressed by the quiet dignity of the representatives of the Merchant Air Services on these occassions when they remember their comrades. These air line civilians often flew unarmed aircraft within range of the enemy's wrath. Sadly, perhaps due to the demands of the TV viewing public, a certain amount of razzamataz has been introduced to this occasion of national mourning, which was absent in my youth. A sign of the times, or ageing perhaps.

trotterdotpom
14th November 2007, 13:41
From recent TV coverage, CBoots seems to be right about the ANZAC ceremonies in Turkey. The impression is of a fad Rock Concert with people flaked out on graves surrounded by empty cans - just another piss up. Here in Australia, the well intentioned attempts to involve youngsters in the day has turned it into a circus of kids in dress-up.

John T.


John T.

Duncan112
14th November 2007, 20:14
On the ANZAC Cove Theme, I spent four months running between Malta and the Black Sea Ports, always seemed to go througe the Dardanelles at Dawn or Dusk - a haunting place with the memorials on the hills, certainly sent shivers down my spine.

Duncan

Fairfield
15th November 2007, 05:52
It is ridiculous that pins have been discontinued for so called H&S reasons. I know a lot of folk whose sticker poppies came off quite quickly and did not fix back on. I got one of the plastic stem variety.

cboots
15th November 2007, 08:37
Trotterdotpom mentions above the increased attendance by young people at our ANZAC Day ceremonies at home and I tend to agree with him, that whilst an increased awareness and attendance is, in itself to be commended, I would repeat that I do wonder what the motives are. Is it a genuine desire to honour the memory and recognise the sheer awfulness of past slaughters of young manhood, or is it just another manifestation of that good old Aussie love of a spectacle?
CBoots

Coastie
15th November 2007, 17:13
We still get pins here in Canada(thank the lord that sillyness has not hit here yet)but my problem with poppies is keeping them ,sitting on the other side of the car from you guys the seat belt makes short work of taking them out

Buy a right hand drive car-problem sorted!!

Frank P
15th November 2007, 20:42
It is ridiculous that pins have been discontinued for so called H&S reasons. I know a lot of folk whose sticker poppies came off quite quickly and did not fix back on. I got one of the plastic stem variety.


This year the poppies that were being sold in Morrisons at Morecambe included a pin.

Cheers Frank(Thumb)

Hamish Mackintosh
15th November 2007, 20:52
Buy a right hand drive car-problem sorted!!

I would,(Cloud) but I would like to live a little longer

K urgess
15th November 2007, 22:12
For those with a continuing interest in the matter of pins with poppies this (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/11/02/npop02.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/11/02/ixhome.html) from the Telegraph explains all and why you may have got a pin with your poppy while a lot of us didn't.
Salaams

jodalo
15th November 2007, 22:31
The reason for the secrecy IIRC was the circumstances of an event on HMS Courageous. The CO of the ship had made the decision to court martial the senior Air Officer aboard, who was RAF. You will recall that the aircraft aboard were unable to take off from the flight deck to defend the carrier against attack. There had been a disagreement between the Sen. Air Officer and the captain of Courageous. The Air Officer was advised by the captain that he would be court martialed when the vessel returned to UK waters. I believe the Air Officer objected to his aircraft being parked in a non operational manner. His views were contrary to the captain's. These Hurricane pilots, rather than abandon their aircraft on a frozen lake in Norway had bravely opted to return and do first time deck landings. IMHO revealing the circumstances of the proposed court martial would be extremely embarrasing to the British Admiralty and to the Captain's N.O.K. I would add that the Captain was without flying experience. Perhaps the Captain should have been the one that was court martialed. Sadly all these air crew went down with the ship. An incident the Admiralty would rather forget, all part of the shambles of the Norwegian campaign.


This site has a fairly full account of the sinking of HMS Glorious and her two consort destroyers Ardent and Acasta.

http://www.warship.org/no11994.htm