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Battle Of Britain Day And My Father’s War

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Battle of Britain Day is 15 September. On that day in 1940, the German Air Force accepted that they could not sustain an air invasion of Britain. They ceased their daytime attacks, and resorted to only attacking at night.
 
 
I just realized today that my father, a soldier in the Canadian Army (whose prime military involvement in the Second World War was the invasion of Sicily and Italy), actually had greater personal hardship from events dealing with the air invasion of Britain, than the acute danger he faced during his land invasion.
 
 
The first thing that comes to mind is that he hated the confinement of bomb shelters, and would not use them. He would wander the streets and watch the air action. He saw bombs explode, and planes (of both sides) get shot down. He recounted one experience of seeing a German pilot parachuting to the ground, after bailing from his plane. A very young soldier aimed his rifle at the descending airman and was ready to shoot. An officer knocked his rifle aside. The soldier started to cry, yelling “They bring me over here, and they train me, but they won’t let me kill a damn German.”
 
 
On one occasion, my father went on leave with a group of soldiers, including his three best buddies. They were always together. However, my father also spent time with my mother (she was a British girl, and became his War Bride). As a result, my father did not return on the same truck that his buddies did, but spent as much time on leave as he could with my mother. When he did return to his barracks, he was greeted by shock and disbelief. The truck he was supposed to return in had been struck by a direct hit from a German bomber. It had just been assumed that one of the mangled corpses was his.
 
 
And the third thing, which I believe he only mentioned once, concerned an incident that happened near one of his British postings. His company was often moved and placed elsewhere during the three years he was in Britain. They would stay in each place a few months, and make friends with the local people. Near one of these postings there was a Boy’s School, mainly of younger teenagers. The boys were interested (indeed, fascinated) by the Canadian soldiers, and spent time with them. One day the school was bombed, and the soldiers were first into the ruined building. My father was eventually to see things more horrible than this slaughter, but I feel it affected him the worst.
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Kafka And Technology

Kafka at the helm.

Franz Kafka had little use and no affection for that new-fangled invention – the telephone.

Kafka probably also wished he had never seen a typewriter, though he pecked away on it daily.

However,  no doubt to his chagrin, Kafka has been credited with devising the first ‘safety helmet’ or hard hat. He was also awarded a medal for this feat. Now, I knew Kafka had been awarded a medal by the Austro-Hungarian Empire for some services rendered. The beauty of this (something even Kafka appreciated) was that it never happened. By the time the bureaucracy  of the Empire had chewed its way through the procedure, the Empire no longer existed. Empire and Emperor were both gone as a result of the First World War. The Empire had disappeared before Kafka ever got his medal.

For a writer seemingly outside the ‘real’ world, Kafka was acutely aware of it and how it functioned.  He was  the first person to describe for popular consumption, through a newspaper article, the flight of that newfangled device, the aeroplane. He attended an air show in Italy where there were stunts and races. He wrote an account, “Die Aeroplane in Brescia,” which was published in the Prague newspaper Deutsche Zeitung Bohemia. I would say he was impressed, if not exactly pleased.

DE

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