Today I dedicate this story in loving memory to my grand father Leslie Nowell and his wife my grand mother Eleanor. I have first hand experience of the worry and the concern that is always at the back of your mind when your husband has gone away to war. I have no doubt the experience for my grand mother was similar but far more of a strain than I had to endure. The reality sets in after the long kiss goodbye and you see your husband go out the door. The yearning for him to come back and say he doesn’t have to go. Getting through the first day just hoping he will remain safe and come home unharmed. Every passing day gets a little easier you have to get on with keeping home fires burning. Yearning to hear his voice. To receive a telephone call it would be a bonus and as for letters were very few. When they did occur hearing and reading between the lines that his life was far from normal and the strain could be heard in his voice. Just hearing his voice brings the ache in your heart back to the surface, you hear your own voice telling him how the children are but not getting much back from him as there isn’t much he can tell you about what he is doing. You give him information that will boost his moral and give him something to look forward to when he comes home. All that he can say is I love you and I miss you over and over. Then it’s time to say goodbye again not knowing when you will hear his voice again. You tell him you and the children love him and miss him and to look after himself and that you and the children are looking forward to seeing him when he comes home. You are left with your thoughts again giving you a feeling of contentment just hearing his voice and knowing he is unharmed. Telling your children their daddy was safe and he loves and misses them. He was doing what took many many years of training to enable him to soldier on and survive. The days go by weeks pass no letters or phone calls. You carry on with your life walks in the park with the children, the usual home making things go on and your life starts to feel as normal as it can be. But then you hear of the first casualties and then the reality of it all sets in again. That nagging worry is there at the back of your mind again. The hesitant walk towards every knock at the door or when the phone rings for fear of getting bad news. The restless sleepless nights missing the man you love and yearning for him to be safe and not to be suffering. The constant monitoring of the news hoping and praying the war would be over soon. Thankful for my children that kept me going from day to day enabling me to get through the struggle of also being heavily pregnant each day the best I could. Having to reassure my children that their daddy would be home soon as they frequently became upset because he wasn’t at home. Having to endure giving birth without knowing anything about the welfare of my husband. The home coming of my husband was felt with elation and relief. The shock of reality seeing your husband look so thin and gaunt and withdrawn. Like a light had switched off in him. All I could do is be there for him love and support him and be thankful that he survived. The mental scarring of war that effects us in time heals enough to bear, but sadly does not totally disappear. Well that was the Gulf War 1991 although it felt like an eternity it was over quite quickly there was no comparison to the length of time the second world war went on for. The second world war began on September 1, 1939 and ended on September 2, 1945. It lasted exactly six years and one day. My grand father was so very young when he went in to action leaving a young wife Eleanor my grand mother and two very young children Leslie and Christine behind him. Times would have been hard for my grand mother in those days living in York, having to tackle life living off food rationing and keeping her children fed, warm and safe. Eleanor would not have had the privilege of receiving phone calls or letters from my grand father she would of had to rely on the newspapers and radio to know how the war was going. The year of 1942 Eleanor would have known that my grand father had been captured and was a Prisoner of War as it was On February 8th, 1942 the fall of Singapore occurred. The ache in Eleanor’s heart for her husband must have been such a heavy weight to bare. The Japanese took 100,000 men prisoner in Singapore. So many men that suffered being enslaved in war camps enduring terrible living conditions with little food to survive on and being subjected to barbaric treatment and forced to build bridges and railways. Eleanor keeping the home fires burning at 2 Alcuin Avenue, Tang Hall, York. Living through the many black outs and being in air raid shelters with no electricity or heating and shortages of every day commodities. Living through the night of the 29th of April 1942 when Hitler’s bombs rained down on York. Eleanor would of known things were not looking good in York after the bombing and would have had a strong sense of fear for the safety of her children. The struggle of life would have been a task of only the strong would survive unfortunately for Eleanor that wasn’t the case. During 1944 Eleanor contracted TB which was a major illness during those times,the conditions of living would have been a good breeding ground for the infectious decease. On the 28th of January 1944 aged 24, the struggle for life for Eleanor was over. Leaving behind her two young children not knowing what laid ahead for them to be orphaned or the fate of her husband my grandfather. On the 12th of September 1944 aged 29, my grand father Leslie Nowell along with many of his comrades were put on a ship the Kachidoki Maru that was transporting them when it was torpedoed. So many young men’s lives that suffered and died. So many loved ones snatched away from their families. It is for the very reason I dedicate this very sad and harrowing story in loving memory of my grand father Leslie Nowell and grand mother Eleanor Nowell who suffered so deeply through the pains of war. It is for that very reason every living soul should give the homage and respect they so rightly deserve for their courage and bravery so that every living soul can have freedom. Now that my task is coming to an end of knowing the whole truth of my grand fathers plight I will ensure and support keeping the knowledge not hidden anymore so that future generation do not allow such atrocities to happen again. We can all forgive but we must not ever forget. While all the fallen brave soldiers that fell during war and their war graves are scattered through the world, although I know it would be a massive task I believe every one of them should rightfully and deservedly have their names engraved and remembered in their own country of origin. For the sake of humanity give them all the home coming they deserve. Although I never met Leslie and Eleanor I feel them in my heart.
In loving memory of Gunner Royal Artillery 5 Searchlight Regiment Leslie Nowell 12th of September 1944 aged 29 and loving wife Eleanor Nowell 28th of January 1944 aged 24. With all the love in the world, I give to you.
Your loving granddaughter Kerry.
To all the brave and courageous that strived to peace keep for the sake of all humanity, that did not return home to their loved ones through war.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them”.
For The Fallen With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. The flesh of her flesh they were, the spirit of spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free. Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres. There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears. They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. They mingle not with laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England’s foam. But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night; As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain, As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.
KEEP THE CANDLE BURNING.