For most of us now the remembrance is abstract, but there are still some veterans, and relatives of the dead for whom it is wholly concrete. Every veteran that I have interviewed remembers their friends that died, and the fact that is was mostly luck that allowed them to survive. Many, I think feel guilty about it, quite unjustifiably, but these sorts of emotions aren’t of course rational.
Sadly many of the people I interviewed for my books about the second world war find their mobility restricted, and some are too ill to make it to their local ceremony. I know John Moffat will get a lift down to the ceremony in his village, but he will also be thinking about the drowning German sailors from the Bismarck that he flew over on the morning after the attack.
Three people who are still getting about are the three men from Arnhem, Ron Jordan, Pat Gorman and Tom Carpenter. Just a few days ago Rob, Pat’s son, sent a photo of them at the annual reunion in Oosterbeek, which takes place in September. My feeling about the men who served in the Ist Airborne Division in Operation Market Garden, is that they will get to this event by hook or by crook, until they are no longer breathing, and that when they get together in Holland or at a remembrance day ceremony they remember and talk about things that we will never understand.
This is true I think for any group of veterans who survived front line service.