There is much debate nowadays about how the current generation are a poor shadow of what society used to be. There is probably some truth in it, but there are plenty of examples of kids of today displaying bravery, going above and beyond and being genuinely successful, productive members of society. Just like there were plenty of ‘wrong ens’ about in days past.
I am not going to debate the rights and wrongs of Empire, I am well aware that we did some questionable things around the world. We also did some some wonderful things, and there isn’t a country out there that can claim to be free of any sort of wrong doing.
However, when you realise that the British Empire was one of histories largest, spreading around the globe, and indeed never having the sun set on it. Then equally realise that we are, when all is said and done, a particularly small country. So whatever your take on the pros and cons of what we achieved, the fact is that our ancestors were a brave band to take on a large part of the world and win.
There has been one shining example of what once made Britain Great during the past year, a man showcasing the best of British and Churchill’s famous bulldog spirit.
A True Icon
When the covid tragedy first struck, and we were all locked down. An elderly gentleman, confined to his garden and only able to walk with the aid of a frame, decided that he was going to do something for our long suffering NHS. He started walking lengths of his garden with the aim of raising £1000, by walking 100 lengths before his 100th birthday.
In the event he raised £33 MILLION. Just think of that, an elderly gentleman 99 years of age hoping for a grand, raised an unbelievable sum for charity.
Our hero Captain Tom, for make no mistake that is what he was by any definition of the word, could also lay prior claim to that title. During World War II, he served with British forces in the hell hole of Burma, Including the Battle of Ramree island, when Japanese forces retreated into a mangrove swamp, only to encounter the local population of crocodiles. Reports claim hundreds of Japanese troops fell prey to the reptiles.
Our intrepid hero, turned his hand to racing motorcycles after the war, riding a ‘Flying Squirrel’, a bike designed by a Bradford builder, Alfred Angas Scott.
Captain Tom, in recognition of his fundraising, was made an honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College and was then knighted by Her Majesty to become Sir Captain Tom!
Sadly as I am writing this, we are all aware that he fell prey to the insidious virus that has claimed so many. All we can say is, Sir, we salute you, and tomorrow will be a good day.
The Final Inspection
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?”
The soldier squared his soldiers and said,
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgement of his God.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”