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Remembrance Day

arms_land_artillery_royal_1

My father, Bombardier Byron C Estey, Service Number G4094 Units: 1st Anti Tank Regiment: 90th Anti-Tank Battery was on the crew of an anti-tank gun, similar to the one shown above. His job was to plot  the trajectory of the shells, so perhaps he would have stood in the same position as the fellow closest to the camera. The photo is taken during the Italian campaign in 1943, so my father was in the area.

Dad talked about the war, but rarely about the bad parts. He was full of amusing antidotes and descriptions and the tales of how people would act. He met my mother in England and it was love at first sight. He rarely neglected to add that he met her “…while searching for the ruins.” Those ruins were Hadrian’s Wall and my mother was also visiting them – with her boyfriend. So it goes.

My father was stationed in England for nearly three years. Canadian soldiers were positioned around London in case of a German invasion. Though such orders were never directly given, it was understood that the Canadians would ‘take no prisoners’ in the event of an invasion. My father had no problem with that.

He landed for the Invasion of Sicily and fought up through Italy. He was in what is classed as one of the bloodiest battles Canadian forces encountered, The Battle Of Ortona, called “The Italian Stalingrad”.  He spoke little about these eight days, which included Christmas amongst the blood.

Dad was never wounded (though he once stood up in his slit trench to see what the “funny noises” were and had his battle tunic shredded with shrapnel). He also contracted malaria, and the day the hospital tent was sweltering and he dragged his mattress beneath a tree, two doctors stood over him. They thought him unconscious and debated his condition. There was a new medicine for malaria and they discussed whether Dad was too near death to waste it on him. Since I am writing these words you may conclude they decided in favour.

I regret not talking more about the war with him, though he did not welcome such intrusion. I did once ask how close he actually got to German soldiers. He said: “Close enough to kill them.”

[image]  http://www.junobeach.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/arms_land_artillery_royal_1.jpg

A Military Parade For The Commander-in-Chief

2-lieutenant-general-sir-george-white-vc-gcb

Commander-in-Chief  Donaldo decided it would be a grand day to become Admiral of the Fleet – Lord High Admiral, if he chose the hat with cockade and plume.

The plume put on an impressive display, as he either agreed (or disapproved) with a toss (or a shake) of his head. The dancing ostrich feathers would added a dashing air as he boarded his flagship and, with just the right mixture of stringent authority and well-tempered geniality, moved among the ranks of ratings on the aft deck.

He would, of course, be extra careful about the pitfalls awaiting a man, with ornate dress sword and scabbard, among the steep steps and narrow companionways.

 

Wednesday was khaki day for Commander-in-Chief Donaldo.

It was the day set aside to remind him of the loyalty he must always retain from his men. What is a leader without his troops? As a treat – for really, dull brown did not make a striking appearance – he would chose the tank commander’s uniform.

With its wide web belt and shiny black holster on the hip, flap unsnapped to reveal the butt of a wicked forty-five. And  black leather gloves, as befits a man at the controls of so much power. And a steel helmet polished to a mirror-shine.

The riding crop? Ah, the riding crop was debatable.

 

Today he would have a parade.

Massed men at attention with stiffly-held rifles and fixed bayonets.

Commander-in-Chief Donaldo would have to chose carefully. to represent his awesome power and responsibility. Cavalry boots are a must, raising half-way up the calf, resounding with silver spurs, steel-tipped toes and heels.

Then would come crisp black trousers, billowing majestically around the thighs, kept up with a wide leather belt. He took care that each red stripe reaching the length of each leg was as straight as an arrow.

His blue tunic, he decided, would have only muted decorations, with the minimum of gold braid entwined about his shoulders. He is – after all – a fighting general.

[Image] https: //www.britishbattles.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2-Lieutenant-General-Sir-George-White-VC-GCB.jpg

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