Sunday, 22 April 2012

Don't Mention the War

Welcome to new Followers Sandra & Martha.

Or Maybe we should mention the War - lots!!

No. 2 Son attended a St. George's Day Parade today, all dressed smartly in his Beaver Scout uniform.
St. George is the Patron Saint of Scouting and today's parade was all about the different Beaver, Cub and Scouts sections from across the District renewing their "Promise", etc. However, No.2 Son got very confused about the purpose of the Parade, as the last one he attended was for Remembrance Day in November, where there were lots of people wearing medals and laying wreaths.

This led on to an interesting discussion about the War and it quickly became very clear that neither Son really understands it. In fairness, I think it is hard for any of us to truly comprehend the scale of it, but it is slightly sad to realise that my two don't really have any concept of how significant it was, and I'm sure they are not unique. However, I have today tried to explain that it is indeed important to remember, that a lot of ordinary people, did many extra-ordinary things and endured some horrendous things, for something they believed strongly in, for the protection of their families. Trying to explain concentration camps to an 8 year old and a 13 year old, whose main concern is when they can switch the Wii back on, is pretty heavy for a Sunday afternoon, but it was fascinating to see their knowledge and understanding grow. They also learned a little something about their Great-Grandparents.

My Grandmother, like many women, worked in an ammunitions factory during the War. I don't know whether the card below is unique, but I think there probably aren't many around.

The bottom one shows that she had a medical exemption from working with TNT, which is very lucky, as many of the women who worked in that section blew themselves up or lost body parts putting the bombs together. She used to travel on the train from Swansea to Brigend every morning at 5 am and home again at 9pm. Although the train had blackout curtains at the windows, because the train tracks would shine silver in the dark, the German planes could follow the progress of the train over the tracks and would "straff" the trains, i.e. shoot lines of machine gun fire at the roof of the train, sometimes coming through the roof and hitting the women inside. This was deliberate to stop them getting to the factory. I asked her once how they coped with this, as it must have been terrifying, and she said "Oh, we just used to sing" Amazing!

My Grandmother worked at that factory every day, 7 days a week, for 3 years without a holiday or weekend off!! I cannot imagine what this was like and my children complain how short the school holidays are, it's just inconceivable to them.

My Grandfather fought in the War and was in the 8th Army, who fought at the battle of El Alamein. Now my knowledge of all the various battles and counterstrikes is flimsy, but I do know this was one of the fiercest and bloody battles of WW2, in a part of the world that was totally unfamiliar, certainly to man from South Wales.
The picture above is of my Grandfather's medals, the one on the left is the Africa Star with the 8th Army band. I wish I knew how to put the ribbons on properly so they could be worn. I believe the Allied forces took over 13,000 casualties at El Alamein. Thankfully, my Grandfather came home at the end of the war, but he was injured and apparently came back a changed man. No wonder! Maybe when they are older they will not be as dismissive of it and it may come to mean more than it does right now, but only if we do mention the war.......... at least, occasionally.

Today's other news

This afternoon, I put my new found enthusiasm to use for somebody else and made Welshcakes for my Church's Community Cafe. Here's half a batch!

Hopefully tomorrow's customers will like them and if you'd like the recipe, (including the not so secret ingredient), I can put this up?

Now back to the Blankets.

Lots of Love Arwedd xx


  1. How wonderful that you have those keepsakes. My Grandad was born in 1891 and fought in the first world war. He was badly injured in his leg and they were still taking shrapnel out of him when he died in the late 1950s.I wish he had lived long enough for me to have known him - I think he must have been a remarkable man.

    1. WW1 was even tougher so I expect he was very remarkable. I do think it's amazing that my sons have known three of their Great- Grandparents and all mine were gone before I knew them.
      Thankfully I did know all my Grandparents.

      We're definitely all living longer, shame we didn't get to know them.

      Arwedd xx

  2. My grandfather also fought in WW1 and came back from the trenches a broken man. Well done for tackling a difficult subject. Cakes look yummy! xx

    1. It's very sad isn't it.

      The cakes taste even better than they look.

      Arwedd xx

  3. You are right about the wars, it is so hard for us to comprehend how hard & terrible they were. The men & women were so brave & strong in such hard times. Both my grandfathers were exempt from participating as they were farmers, so while I am glad there are no horror stories in our family, I am a little sad that we do not have a closer connection to history. You have some lovely treasures from your grandparents.

    These biscuits are always popular here:

    Kiwi Crisps - aka Chocolate Chippies

    1/4 lb butter
    2 oz sugar
    Cream together. Add
    2 level tablespoons of condensed milk
    chocolate chips - as many as you like
    1 breakfast cup flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    Roll into balls, place on tray and flatten with a fork. Bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.

    I always double this recipe. It is quite an oldie and my mother always made them for as long as I can remember. I think condensed milk is available over your way too. Anyway I won't be offended if your boys won't like them!!

    Thanks for joining my Blog too!!

    1. Will definitely try these.

      Thanks Arwedd xx

  4. Every generation of my family fought in wars. It's so terribly sad that we don't seem to learn any lessons from war. My hubby has medals from his time in the Royal Navy so he knows how to put the ribbons on....we are a bit of a distance to help you with yours....but how about a visit to a Legion ...there may well be someone there who could help you.
    Jane x

  5. Yes, it's certainly important to mention the war to the next generation, it's the only way they'll learn about all the sacrifices these brave men and women made so that we can live the way we do today. I learnt a lot about my hubby's great grandfather whilst researching our family trees. He serves in the Royal Artillery in the first world war and my son did a project based on him for his History lesson at school.
    I've left you an award on my blog. Don't feel obliged to accept it, I just want to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog.

  6. Jane, That's a really good idea and I bet they'd be pleased that someone is interested. I might take the boys in with me. Thanks. Arwedd xx

    Jo, Wow, I'm so speechless. I can't believe that. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I would be delighted to accept. Thanks Arwedd xx

  7. I find the stories from the war fascinating especially stories like yours of how the poeple used to cope by singing- truely amazing!

    I would love the recipe for Welsh cakes if you would be so kind as to post. We fell in love with Welsh cakes during our 'tour of Wales' last summer.

  8. When it's someone you know, it really brings it home, doesn't it.

    Will post the Welshcakes soon.

    Arwedd xx