“Röslein auf der Heide” – by David R Graham

For a mere second the soldier closed his eyes and succumbed to sleep’s black embrace. It was long enough for him to shuffle off the rain-slicked duckboards; off that narrow avenue between places of fragile safety.

He landed on his back on the thick, bomb churned mud.

Staring wide-eyed at the grey, rain-filled sky, he screamed a muffled cry of commingled anger and terror at his fatal mistake.

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‘I Remember’ by Pete Brammer

I remember what they said,
At the outbreak of the war,
‘It will be all over come Christmas’
Yet I can recall with such horror,
How our lads were slaughtered,
Thousands and thousands, en mass.

I remember signing on, with workmates,
All eager to do our bit.
“Your country needs you.” old Kitchener said.
I remember we proudly marched through town,
People cheered, waving Union flags,
For they could not envisage, most would end up dead.

I remember the years in sludgy trenches,
As we struggled, to keep our sanity,
Suffering trench foot, fleas and mites,
Waiting for the shout, “Over the top.”
With the accompanying shrilled whistles,
Instantly obeying, we set off to fight.

I remember too, mustard gas clouds,
Drifting across ‘No Man’s Land’
Donning the life saving gas masks,
As shells whistled over our heads,
All wondering where they would land,
To be followed, by deafening blasts.

I remember the mud, changing colour,
As it clung to out boots and putties,
A nerve tingling scarlet red,
Skin and bone flying everywhere,
With life blood from innocent lads,
Some wounded, but most of them dead.

I remember thinking, about my wife,
Upset, to be missing my child,
You see, I had walked away from the conflict,
Now I stand before the firing squad,
Their rifles, pointing at my heart,

Please God, forgive me…

Then by Fred Foster

Fred’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

THEN is a word that can be used in a number of contexts. As a warning (Now then) or it could refer to a recent happening (Just then) or it could be anticipation (And then) or it could be long ago THEN/ Way back when. As a boy during the war years this is what it was like THEN

Grandad is it true I’m told That you know lots of things because you’re old

Are there giants that shake the ground

And are there fairies that fly around

And why does the moon stay up in the sky

And if it falls will we all die

Why does the sea rush up to the land

And why is the sea shore made of sand

And why is the sea so wide and deep

And are there monsters when we sleep

And when you were a boy like me

Did you ever fall and graze your knee

And living for so many years

Do you still cry those salty tears.


Now old is wise they tell me so

But so many things I’ll never know

The sun comes out to warm the day

The moon at night to light the way

The sand down by the sea it seems

Is for building castles and weaving dreams

And the fairies come at night they say

To drive the giants and monsters away

And when I was a boy like you

I fell and cried just like you do

But now I’m old I never cry

I think I’ve got something in my eye.

Coming Home to War by David R Graham

David’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

Coming Home to War

By David R Graham. 26.09.16


‘What d—! Who d’feck–!’


‘Killian? Is that you, Killian?’


‘Jesus Killian! What d’feck are ye doin’ comin’ up on me in d’dark like that? Ye frightened d’feckin’ shite out’a me. Whew. Ye made it back then? Come in’t d’light an’ let me have a look at ye.’

‘No, Callum. I live in the shadows now.’

‘Jesus Christ, Killian. What d’hell have they done t’ye man? Ye have eyes that would frightin’ d’divil himself. Was it bad?’

‘Worse than bad, Callum.’

‘When did ye get back?’

‘I didn’t.’

‘What? What are ye say—?’

‘You haven’t seen me, Callum. I’m not here.’


‘You haven’t seen me.’

‘Right. I’m with ye, Killian. What about Sean, an’ d’Hardy boys? Are they with ye? ’

‘No. They didn’t make it.’

‘Jesus, Killian. All five a them?’


‘Thank God Maddy’s not here t’hear that. The news would a killed her deader than Carpenter did.’

‘He made his play, then?’

‘O aye, he did that. Not long after you lads went off. An’ a bloody play it was too.’

‘Tell me.’

‘He killed everyone, Killian. Burned, bombed, an’ shot his way t’d’top a d’shite heap.’

‘You’re alive.’

‘Ye can call me that, Killian. Others might call me walkin’ dead. I escaped death by d’skin a me teeth. I’m worth fifty pounds to whoever takes me in. You found me, Killian. That worries me. How long have I got? He’s sittin’ up there now lordin’ it over d’whole city. No one can touch him, Killian. He has everyone eatin’ out a his slop bowl.’

‘No one is going to find you, Callum. Or me.’

‘What are ye goin’ t’do, Killian? What can d’two a do against Carpenter’s army?’

‘Tell me about his empire, Callum. Every detail.’

‘Empire’s right, Killian. He sits on top of the entire pile. From City Hall down to d’sewers an’ every club, bar, restaurant, casino, cinema, bettin’ shop, an’ barbers in between. You name it, Killian, an’ if Carpenter doesn’t already own it, he soon will. An’ he’s a army a coldblooded villains who are only too happy t’do whatever dirty work is necessary t’keep his slaves coughin’ up their cash. So you tell me, Killian. What can d’two a us do against him?’

‘Others are on their way, Callum.’

‘Who? Where are they comin’ from?’

‘From the battlefields of Europe. I’ve gathered my own army of coldblooded villains, Callum. Carpenter’s army will be no match for them.’

‘Jesus, Killian. Are ye goin’ t’take him on?’

‘No, Callum. I’m not going to take him on. I’m going to destroy him.’

‘Jesus, Killian. What d’ye want me t’do?’

‘I need to know everything about every one of his soldiers, Callum. They fear no one. They’ll all have a daily routine. I want to know those routines. I want to know the details of every building Carpenter owns, every vehicle he owns and uses. I want to know all of his daily movements; where he eats, where he sleeps, where he works, where he plays, where he does business, and where he keeps his money.’

‘I can’t do it, Killian. I’ve a price on me head. I wouldn’t last five minutes.’

‘You’re going to live, Callum. Disguise yourself. Go behind your enemy’s lines, and move freely among them. You’ll not be alone. I will be covering you. Others will not be far away.’

‘When d’ye plan t’make y’ur move, Killian?’

‘You’ll know, Callum.’

‘When, Killian?  When will I know?’

‘When each of Carpenter’s soldiers lies with a spike through his throat, Callum: You will know then.’

Another Man’s War by Faymarie Morris

Through reddened, rheumy eyes the old man gazed
At a hostile face he didn’t know.
Why should he feel as defeated as this
When he overcame much worse, years ago.
He never sought thanks or glory, or praise
And he didn’t crave medals to prove it,
But a little respect might help heal the wounds
Or at least go a long way towards it.
But what did he get instead for his loss,
All those arduous years of devotion?
A pittance to last the rest of his days
In a world without warmth or emotion.
Oh how he longed for his life on the land.
All the heartbreak. The pleasure.The sorrow.
He would happily trade all his todays
Without even a thought of tomorrow,
For that sweet smelling soil, after the rain.
For those sunsets of red, gold and yellow.
For his mother’s laughter, even her tears,
And the way that his father would bellow.
But these were such long distant memories
Of some far away, more innocent time.
Before he decided to give his all
To another man’s war, in another clime.
He had fought for a world fit to live in
And despaired at the misery around,
As those other brave souls fell before him
And their crimson blood sank into the ground.
They were told that the world would be freer.
That their sacrifice would not be unsung.
That repression and terror were ended,
That the bells of peace would always be rung.
But the fact was, that angry young stranger,
Who had beaten his old face black and blue,
Lived alone in his own private war zone,
[And all he’d got was a dollar or two.]
Hadn’t cared who had fought for his freedom
Or the sacrifices that had been made.
And what was the point of remembrance,
When remembering only brings pain?

Faymarie Morris

A Brush with the Enemy by Michael Healy

A Brush with the Enemy by Michael Healy

Father was a Military Man

Who hailed from North of the Border

Smart in his kilt, hat and Uniform

He would play his bagpipes as his team performed

A Pipe Major in the Black Watch, and proud.

Sadly the flames of World War II were loud

And he and his bagpipes had to part.


As war was declared he was promoted and transferred,

In charge of a battery of anti-aircraft guns, men, and kit,

Posted to London, in the middle of the Blitz,

A busy time for all, with he and his men often under attack.

Transferred again, to the Liverpool docks, they were glad to be back.


After so many firings the guns were cleaned

With a brush being pushed down the barrel

During one such cleaning the Germans attacked,

The orders were given for the guns to fire back.


After the action was over, one brush was found to be missing.

In later life my father would muse, what must the Germans have thought?

When a brush flew past from below, as those British Soldiers fought.

Despite their attempts to sweep the sky,

the guns were attacked and it seemed he might die.


The rest of the story as life carried on, is really quite happy and bright.

Transferred to hospital, over many months, he began to regain his light.

With the care of the doctors, and the wiles of the nurses, he started to notice their smiles,

One in particular, her name was Nurse Margery, her smile caught onto Dads’ heart,


War over, in February ’47, they were happily married,

March ‘48, I finished their story, as that wee bairn she had carried.

Pleased to report, my occasional slumbers, were accompanied by the skirl of his pipes.

Dad would recall his stories, behind the smoke of his pipe, and as I listened I often wondered if that brush ever did come to light?


HIS DARKEST HOUR   By David R Graham




Davids Parliament logo

June 3rd 1940


 Your Majesty,


Twenty four days have passed since I gratefully accepted your Majesty’s invitation to be the Prime Minister of your Government. Throughout those days I have come to realise just how serious a situation your army and your people face from Herr Hitler’s military actions on the Continent and in eastern Europe. It galls me to say it your Majesty, but say it I must. They are actions that appear to be unstoppable.

The plain and unsavoury truth is that the combined forces of Great Britain and France have proven to be no match for the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. And, as I had privately long suspected, the Maginot Line has proven to have given General Gamelin and his Chiefs of Staff a false sense of security. The Wehrmacht have simply marched round its impressive, but ultimately ineffective fortifications and entered Belgium through the ‘impenetrable’ Ardennes: flouting that country’s neutrality with impunity.

After withstanding repeated hammer blows from the might of the Germany Panzer brigades, General Van Caelenberge and his brave Belgian troops were fought to a standstill and, in a desperate bid to prevent the total annihilation of his forces, he surrendered.

Likewise, in the Netherlands, General Winkelman, by his own admission, had insufficient forces and materiel at his disposal to mount any long term defence against the seemingly unstoppable might of the Wehrmacht and he too was forced to surrender.

This sorry situation has been played out yet again in Norway; particularly at Narvik, where allied forces, under the command of Major General Fleischer, were ultimately unable to recapture the Port and deny its use as an ice free harbour to the enemy.

Coupled with these major military setbacks is the advent of Italy’s entry into the war. At a time when the soldiers of French were already fought to a standstill, ‘the hand that held the dagger has stuck it into the back of its neighbour,’ to borrow the words of President Roosevelt. This treacherous act on the part of Il Duce, left General Winkelman with no other recourse but to surrender his forces to the Germans. The subsequent lamentable martial stamina of the Italian forces henceforth, speaks for itself.

In tandem with the aforementioned, is the stark, undeniably, reality that our own forces have proven to have been totally inadequately prepared to fight a modern war. Suffice it to say that our troops have been badly trained and ill equipped from the outset. In consequence of this appalling and unjustifiable mismanagement and mishandling, over many years, a very desperate rescue operation is underway to try to bring home as much of our shattered army as is humanly possible. I pray God that not many more of your Majesty’s brave soldiers will die needlessly on the blood-soaked shores of Dunkirk.

It is now12:01am and my heart lies heavy in my chest at the very thought of having to write the following words to your Majesty. They are word that I have agonised over for many days and week; words that can only hint at the many more weeks of intense debate with my fellow members of the War Cabinet and those of your Majesty’s Government: words, which I never imagined I could ever bring myself to think, let alone utter and never actually to write to your Majesty. But write them I must. I, Winston Churchill, your most obedient servant and Prime Minister of your Government, seek your Majesty’s leave to sue for peace with Nazi Germany.

 Your obedient servant and Prime Minister,

 churchill's signature

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, Hon, RA.


A Candid Reality On Searching Truth In Conflict by Steven Halinski

A Candid Reality

On Searching

Truth In Conflict

“In commemoration of World War 1”

by Steven Halinski

 So this is the fight left to fight?

The war is over but things aren’t right.

Easier to lose than to try,

Very much a disaster

Every day and night,

Nestled in my trenches tight.


Hail the bullets that hail –

A reason to thrive or fail

Listen closer and you will see

Inner thoughts never seen;

Notice now this new found truth

Soldiered from your toil and gruel,

Knife the lies that comfort you

Instigate your right for truth!

A face like Dorian Gray by Kevin Murphy

[Memoir: using facts from my father’s war to create a 3000 word story]

A face like Dorian Gray

 All during the film I couldn’t help feeling my face, following the fine line of the rebuild across my cheek to the bridge of my nose, straight down and across my lip to my chin and back up – the great divide between my two faces, old and new. Unlike Dorian Gray I carry both my faces with me. Yes I am two faced, but I am no longer useless.

VJ Day – Victory over Japan, the final stroke of the war and my victory over the world which had branded me ‘Useless’. There are two aspects to being ‘useless’: as looked at by others and how you see yourself. They said I was useless and I proved them wrong. I felt I was useless and proved myself wrong.

Edith saw the hard face at first.

I heard her voice first – from the stage. I was making myself useful at our Amateur Dramatic society, managing the door and penny programmes. I was standing at the back and was struck more than any High Explosive or even that Landmine in the Blitz. ‘Whose is that voice?’

Ray Mort and Fred Warburton were holding forth centre stage. The three womenfolk listened in. Tension built in me as none of them had a line for a few minutes. It couldn’t be Edith Pooler – she was playing a crippled girl. Joan Carty had been in our Peggy’s class and I had heard her babbling. No, it must be Yvonne Lees – I don’t know her.

Ray then turned to his two ‘sisters’ and Yvonne spoke first before…

‘It’s Edith Pooler!’ A voice pealing, true as a bell. I had known her all her life – I was really going to get to know her now.

Crumpled then crushed by my war, at twenty one in 1943, I had dragged myself from the wreckage that was me. I had shaken off the dust, removed my invisible bandages and touched up my new face with a hard gloss. I couldn’t add a smile, so what Edith saw that first time was an arrogant smirk. It had taken a whole week to pluck up the courage to ask her out. I didn’t ‘await my opportunity’, I strode up and knocked on her door and she knocked me straight back.

It was wartime and lovers – most lovers – seized the day. That next day, Edith knocked on my door and made me a reluctant proposition: her friend’s beau was home on pre-embarkation break – would I like to make up a foursome with Edith? Though she tried, she couldn’t get rid of me after that.

It took a long time for her to see beneath my hard face. The first time she saw, she saw a face twisting in the agony of an epileptic fit, and I didn’t see her afterwards.

I had had some ‘blackouts’ as I called them throughout my youth – I had fallen out of a tree at Thorn Leigh School when I was sixteen and everyone thought that had brought on my ‘fainting fits’ as they called them. They didn’t recognise the reason for the fall as one of those fits. I refused to go back to ‘Turd Leigh’ – it was all very well having no corporal punishment, but I didn’t like the way they tried to get their hands on my body. The knock meant I had lost my way to my Higher School Leaving Certificate; anyway I had gone AWOL to cousins in Ireland.

When I came back with my tail between my legs, Pa got me into De La Salle in Manchester for the 1939 year, but I had to ‘start again’ with lads mostly two years younger than me. This was no hardship – from a large family brought up through the depression, a dead pan face and a nonchalant air were the only means of carrying off the fact of wearing cast-off or grown-out of clothes and maintaining face, both in school and with social acquaintances. Two faces. At home we jokingly referred to ‘carrying things off in the Grand Murphy Manner’. It was not in fact a joke – rather a family complex, to show or admit internal upset was a sign of weakness and in very bad taste.

People think it strange, but ‘The Boss’ – Brother Columba, at De La Salle – had made an instant impression on me – a good one. After my first misdemeanour: he ‘had’ to give me the strap on each hand. Then he immediately asked ‘Do you play Hand-ball? See you on the court at five.’ Offence – Punishment – Forgotten, and no long lecture with a creepy hand on my knee.

He also showed tacit recognition of my extra years, giving me prefectorial duties and some privileges – one of which led to my need for a new face. This was a combination of right and responsibility – if I took a major role in maintaining the school boiler, I could smoke my pipe in the boiler house. One time I pulled out the boiler’s ash-tray and was overcome by fumes. I was apparently rescued by two lads and I woke up in the neighbouring Hope Hospital. There they took a patch of skin from my thigh and made up my face – and a good job they made of it too. They said I wouldn’t grow hair on my cheek, but on VJ Day five years later I missed a section of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” as Edith stroked my stubble and kissed my lips.

Ironically Salford’s other Hospital – The Royal – itself needed a new face a couple of years later after Fritz blew it off, killing 16 nurses – that’s a crater in the foreground.

The Boss tipped the wink at me after recuperation: “I’m confiscating your bacca, Patrick, I reckon that John Cotton is too strong for you – knocked you out!” My Pa had given me a tin of his favourite ‘John Cotton’ – maybe he shouldn’t have made it the strong one – but when Columba eventually gave it me back for the holidays, I barely restrained myself from accusing him of helping himself to a good few pipefuls out of it.

In the Christmas Blitz of 1940, some of us senior boys were encouraged to be Stretcher Bearers for our two hospitals – Hope was only half a mile away – and it was another lad’s affliction that saved my life: we were sheltering in one of the small concrete-roofed, brick Air Raid Shelters thrown up on all sorts of open spaces – Piccadilly was covered with them. It was full-to-bursting with old folks and mothers with children – hot sweaty and tense. A man with a mouth Organ was leading everyone in a jolly old sing-song in the hope of distracting the little ones at least.

Johnny then came over with an attack of claustrophobia. He asked the warden to let him out, but he refused. We sat back down but poor Johnny started to tremble, then to moan and eventually was wailing and screaming. The mothers were put out with him upsetting the infants, tutting him and telling him to grow up Eventually the warden threw us out.

Fritz was having a great party and we were invited. We hadn’t gone a hundred yards when we felt the whoomp before we heard the bang of a landmine from where we had just come. We rushed back and one of the worst sights of my life, one that will never leave me, was the man with the harmonica, bolt upright, eyes open, organ in mouth, silent and still – his legs cut off by a slab of the fallen roof. Everyone inside was killed.

As well as parachuting down the odd huge landmine, the raiders mainly used a combination of bombs – High Explosive to break up brick, stone and concrete, followed by a hail of tiny incendiaries that burn up all the wood – and people. The incendiaries were only the weight of a bag of sugar and could be extinguished with a bucket of sand. Also lots of them were duds – didn’t go off – and could be thrown to safety.

The second incident that has stuck with me, was our rugger captain taking on one of those little blighters. A crowd had gathered outside Hope Hospital pointing at the fin of an incendiary sticking out of a roof gutter.

 The old Victorian building was constructed as pairs of wards. The brave sport got a ladder and climbed to a window on one side, hauled up his ladder and perched it across to the opposite window, zigzagging – only three storeys, but high ones – to a growing roar of the crowd. As he reached the top, we were all hushed as he peeped over the weapon … and it blew him off the ladder.

After my accident I was given a letter or exemption from military service, but I had done alright in the Blitz hadn’t I? I got my call up in 1942 and reported to Hinckley just before my twentieth birthday in April. I passed A1 in my medical. The initial impression on most of us students, clerks and office workers was complete culture shock – three chaps committing suicide in the first week – one a pal of mine, a solicitor, simply jumped off a roof.

The first fortnight was tough for me too: I was issued with a blanket which had fresh vomit on it. I asked politely for another and was told in certain words to get on with it. I told the corporal that there was no need to swear, and for my blushes I was given a litany asking me to explain what the strips on his arms were, “fucking birdshit?” The upshot was that I got blanket rash on my new fresh face, leaving my chin scarred for life. This attitude of the NCOs really so grated on one of my new pals, that he planned to cosh the Sergeant Major in a blackout with a sock-full of sand. Whether he actually did or not, the officer was not seen again on our parade ground. However, his ghost won the day. The pal was put on Jankers for a far smaller breach of discipline, and after spending two weeks of chores at the double, he was a broken man and didn’t recognise me thereafter.

After the initial weeks of square bashing and rifle training and a week’s leave in June, I settled to it and was deployed as a storeman and soon a clerk in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

Then the fun started. I blacked out getting into a lorry – basically I fell out. I could have passed it off as falling onto my head and knocking myself out, but it was apparent to my mates that it was nothing of the sort. I had a week’s leave to recover in September and everything seemed to be going tickety-boo, when in November I blacked out on machine gun practice, gripping the trigger as I collapsed, almost shooting the Sergeant Major’s head off.

I had to face a full Medical Board and my Christmas present from the British Government in 1942 was to be deemed useless – unfit for service.

I had to admit to being very ill – I lost my memory – completely for a few weeks – and didn’t recognize my Pa when he came to visit. There was such shame in Epilepsy, that I always felt that he thought I had just ignored him – far from it, I had never needed a loving father more.

The next period at home was not happy as I felt that my family had no sympathy for me – simply that I was sulking and swinging the lead. I recall my perfectly robust eldest brother – now a parish priest – paying a home visit, and me being told to stand up and let ‘poor Father Dermot sit down’.

I put in a few weeks at the local Coop shop and enjoyed the simple ribaldry of the women working there. I used to mimic them at home and was castigated for ‘lowering myself’ to their level.

My mother couldn’t think why I had destroyed my medical certificate when I was called up. There weren’t any heroics involved – I just wanted to be like all the other men – big bro Kevin was climbing aerials in the RAF.

It was he who got me back on course – not without a very heavy hand on the tiller. On leave as I was into recovery, he professed the family all dumbstruck when they heard that I had not used my ‘sick note’. He asked me what I had been thinking of to put other people’s lives in danger (on my own side!) by handling armaments when I knew I had epilepsy. Ma said it was one of my ‘Megrims’: a capacity not only for developing crackpot notions but for holding onto them through thick and thin until they became hallowed – the given truth. Well – she was an Irish Seanachie, always telling us fanciful tales – she would know.

What my brother winkled out of me was that I had indeed developed one of my famous ‘megrims’,and had convinced myself that epilepsy was syphilitic in origin and that to produce such a medical certificate was tantamount to saying that one of my parents had syphilis! He inveigled me into going to see our family Doctor – indeed our father’s close friend – who spotted that my assiduous study of available encyclopaedias at De La Salle, had led me to conflate the sentence ‘Neurosyphilis has symptoms of Epilepsy’, into ‘Neurosyphilis is Epilepsy’ – and of course vice versa. I believed the doctor, where I mistrusted my own brother, and started the regime of medications that kept me if not seizure-free, then at least steady, and as normal as I could feign. He also told me to ‘stay off alcohol’, which wisely or not, I failed to heed.

With Ma’s Seanachian tendency to escape to fantasy with 8 children during the depression and the thirties, you can see reminiscence as a kind of poultice or a basket of lost dreams – I certainly had lots of those: I was going to inherit the family farm in Ireland, but unbeknown to us, my uncle had already sold it; I was going to teach – but I didn’t even have my Highers. Though I was the sixth of eight, now I was the last – even my younger sister and brother were succeeding – a nurse and another airman. I knew my place – the black sheep.

That unwanted face again.

I persevered with Edith and she eventually saw that the arrogance was a cover – I had nothing to be arrogant about, even if my family were a different class from her cobbling and mill-worker family, she saw that I loved people – and fun. We sang together, and made a lovely couple on the dance floor. Shy as she was she transformed on stage and she could that the person most people thought was me was just an act.

We went to a lot of flicks, and I my love of the horror films – “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Pandora’s Box” – didn’t frighten her, they were a tease. And now here we were at the Heywood Picturedome watching “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

Dorian’s true face was hidden in a locked loft. He had sold it to the devil for the price of an image of eternal youth. Mine was buried deep inside and I prayed God it would one day come together and melt away the plastic one. The warmth of Edith’s hand got the process going; would her warm heart light up my eyes?

We had caught the early house at the ’dome at Heywood, to be sure of getting a bus back to Bury.

As we left the horrific painting of Dorian gurning over his dead body in the dark loft, we went blinking into the bright light of that August evening and it was the noise that hit us first – cheering and church bells, whistles and bangers laughing, roaring and singing. “Pack up your troubles” – pack them up indeed.

Sights swung in on that sunny night – swaying and waving crush – with and without flags – kissing, cuddling, and canoodling. “Hey, that’s my girl!” Edith – my girl. Another girl kisses me! I better get hold of Edith and kiss her, but why, what’s it all about? Because I am bursting with love, of course. No – it’s…

“…it’s what you say?”

No buses or trams. Everyone was out dancing in the street. We knew it was coming … but what has actually happened? We were swept up into the swirling delight, Edith almost pulled my fingers out of their sockets, but she held on, held on to me.

“Victory! … Japan’s…!”

Edith shouts in my ear – “Japan’s surrendered Pat – it’s all over!”

Oh no it’s not – it’s really just got going – for us. But hey, Okey Okey Cokey! We are putting our whole selves in.

“War’s over!” over the roar. Grasping, linking arms, loosening again and move on, be moved. Where too? Down into town. I drag Edith towards the Bury Road. Maybe a bus down here. No. Well down there.

I’m not sure our feet touched the ground all the way back home to Bury, but I do know that after we had passed through the town centre and seen the bald headed Bobbies laughing at the lads updating Bobby Peel’s hat and giving him a scarf of bunting and a flag to hold … that on Bury Bridge we had each other to hold. One last … one first real kiss before I carry her over the Irwell.

“Give over, you daft ’ape’orth!”

To a new life of Peace, to face the world anew, to face the world with somebody. I knew it. I could no longer be a nobody going nowhere, I just could not. I’m a somebody, going somewhere looking the entire world in the face, with Edith by my side.