We need to channel the stoicism of the war generation | Blaise Tapp

During this past week, when much of what we hold dear has been turned on its head, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my grandad.

Saturday, 28th March 2020, 12:00 am
Picture taken on June 1944 showing British soldiers of Allied forces during the Normandy landing operation as part of the Second World War. (Photo AFP/Getty Images)

It is almost three years to the day since the proud old soldier gave his final salute, just a couple of months shy of his 96th birthday.

His was a terrific innings, partly aided by a stringent routine that you could set your Casio wristwatch by – a discipline drilled into him during six years of service in the Second World War.

It is not an exaggeration to say these were his defining years – dark times, filled with immense hardship and tragedy but also a period which provided him with a lifetime of treasured memories.

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He was just 18 years old when war was declared, meaning that everything he experienced during that long campaign, gave him a context against which he could measure all future challenges.

This was the case for all four of my grandparents, their own parents and siblings, neighbours and millions of others who endured one of the most challenging periods in the history of the planet.

The vast majority of this remarkable generation is no longer around to give us the guidance we so desperately need during a period that is making so many of us feel like shouting ‘stop the world, I want to get off’.

How we could do with their sage advice.

Over the past couple of weeks, much like almost everybody I have spoken to, I have endured almost every emotion imaginable – panic, fear, uncertainty, not to mention a degree of embarrassment for feeling all of the above, when I think of how my grandad and his pals faced the most unimaginable of challenges with nothing but a stoic smile.

Although he would now be in his 100th year, he would’ve taken the problems we are facing in his stride, although I suspect he might have had great difficulty with adhering to self-isolation rules.

Much of our frustrations now are due to a collective sense of helplessness, born out of the fact that we have no idea how or when this will end. We need to remain calm - my grandad would’ve known what to do.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​