D-Day 75: Listen and remember veterans' stories before it's too late - Rick Jackson

HISTORY: Normandy veteran and life-long Portsmouth resident John Jenkins explains to a new generation what happened on D-Day
HISTORY: Normandy veteran and life-long Portsmouth resident John Jenkins explains to a new generation what happened on D-Day
Share this article
0
Have your say

With the D-Day commemorations taking place in Portsmouth, I’ve been wondering what my connection to those brave men of 1944 might be?

My nan is now 90. She was 11 when the Second World War started. She remembers her sisters working at a

munitions factory in Cowes.

She remembers them taking the first bus out of Ryde, in the dark, blacked out. No one was allowed to smoke

in case a spotter plane was overhead.

I was very close to her two sisters, but not so much her two brothers, none of whom are sadly with us any longer and

with them, their memories are gone forever.

Both my great uncles were railwaymen. Both as young men were porters at various stations across the

island. Both were called up.

I cannot imagine what this must have been like for two young men in their 20s at the beginning of their

adult lives, having to go off to war and fight.

The thought of coming under fire or having to fire at or kill another man is beyond my comprehension.

But off they went. I now wish I’d got to hear their stories. My nan can recall some things, but I’d love to

know where they served and what action they saw.

I’m pretty sure one of my uncles was posted to a converted minesweeper. Almost all of the local railway

paddle steamers that served Portsmouth and Ryde were requisitioned.

I remember hearing how my other uncle came home on leave for two weeks from the war. I still remember

being told how this strong, stiff-upper-lip man, cried openly as he walked down the hill to the railway

station to return to service, not wanting to go and not sure if he was ever coming back. Thankfully, they

both did.

If you can, speak to someone who survived the war. Listen to their stories, remember them and pass them on to

the next generation.

As we leave the EU and go it alone, for me, those stories from the past are even more vital now.

My heart goes out to the little man and his family

Thousands of us were caught in the traffic  following an accident on the A27 at Titchfield on Monday.

Only those who passed the incident at the time would have known someone had died. Seeing the police close the road in both directions and hearing the air ambulance, fears were confirmed the following morning that it was an 11-year-old boy who died crossing the road. This fast bit of road is now a 40mph limit, but it lost its speed camera a few years ago. Would that have any difference, though? My heart goes out to the little man and his family. Also to the drivers involved. No matter what happened, their lives will be changed too.

All you need to get a girl… be generous with your sweets

Freddie has his second school disco tomorrow. He’s five. I’m pretty sure I was 13 when I had my first.

Before that it was Friday disco night at the youth club. Every time I play the song Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins on the radio it reminds me of 1983.

I was 10 and kissed a girl called Emma who went to a different school. My mates thought I was very cool and grown up. Turned out she was the ‘girlfriend’ of my neighbour who then threatened to beat me up on the way home!

I think Freddie currently has three girlfriends.

Girls seem to be drawn to his good looks, blue eyes and his... generosity with sweets.

The boy certainly learns fast.