September 4, 2008

The Forgotten Army

The “forgotten army” of WW2 was the British troops left behind in the jungles of Burma and Malaya with few resources to fight the advancing Japanese. The survivors got their well-deserved medals soon after VJ day in 1945.

But there was another forgotten army – “The Women’s Land Army and Forest Corps” and they have just got their recognition after waiting 63 long years! It’s a scandal.

My 93-year-old cousin Mary was one of 33,000 who joined up during the 1939-45 war, so the government would not have to spend much money on brooches after 63 years of waiting would they?

Mary said she’d had a nice letter from Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown inviting her to Number 10 Downing Street for afternoon tea! She couldn’t make it. The PM’s picture appeared in the Telegraph Weekly taking the sugar bowl around a group of the old girls in his front room. To be fair, he did tell them that “it had been too long” for their recognition.

Why didn’t he book afternoon tea at the Palace up the road? They need not have used the posh china – the Land Girls used to drink from tin mugs during the war so they would not have worried. Wouldn’t that have thrilled the old girls. They would not have been a security threat at the palace and could have left their pitch forks, hoes, axes and crosscut saws at the gate.

It’s a disgrace! Why not a give them a medal like the Home Guard and Air Raid Wardens got? A medal with ribbons is recognised worldwide with much more status than a brooch.

What possible excuse could the British government have dug up for the delay? Did the Queen not know about these canny lasses not being recognised? Surely as a wartime ambulance driver herself, the Queen will have a war medal and know how important these small things are for personal sacrifice. And they did make sacrifices.

Surely the provision of food for a hungry nation under siege and timber for building and damage repair was not deemed unimportant. These grand lasses worked in all weathers in tough conditions and put up with all sorts of hazards like rats, mice down their riding britches on threshing days, and the advances of young farm lads on any days! Surely recognition with a decent medal long before 63 long years would have been the decent thing to do!

I can only think that if this insult to the Land Army and Forest Corps lasses is a sign of British efficiency, then God will need to do a lot more in the next 63 years than just “Save the Queen – or the King.”

So if anyone served in the WLA and Forest Corps, then make sure you get your brooch. At least it will be something for your family to value even if the British government didn’t value what they did.

No comments:

Post a Comment