MY grandfather was not prone to sentimentality. Overt demonstrations of feigned emotion would usually be met with a short rebuke along the lines of ‘what a load of b*****ks’.
Much of this, no doubt, was just who he was. Some of it, however, must have been born from his experiences.
On June 6, 1944, at the tender age of 18, he parachuted into Ranville, Normandy. The next few months saw him fight across France and Germany, suffering life-threatening wounds along the way and losing his closest friends, particularly his mate Frenchie, which stayed with him till his dying days some 77 years later.
Yet that was the sacrifice which was made by those of his generation. It was their duty and it was expected of them to fight. It stands in stark contrast to many an 18-year-old today, for whom microaggressions are treated as a threat akin to the 1,200 rounds per minute delivered by the MG42, or who believe that it is ‘brave’ to gender-bend.
As the wartime generation die off – surely not many are left, my grandfather dying at the age of 96 must have ranked among the last – there is an ever-greater degree of public soul-searching that takes place whenever anniversaries such as June 6 come around.
Increasingly we ask ourselves what that generation was fighting for. One doubts it is the world which was erected out of the ashes of war-torn Europe. The one in which, by the 21st century, Britain’s military actively discriminates against white males – the descendants of those who died to keep us free – and which can no longer confidently define a ‘woman’.
My grandfather in his later years regularly asked rhetorically: ‘Why did we bother?’
The ones who survived and were lucky enough to grow old lived to see a country where British history and culture is held in disdain by its great institutions. One in which the very existence of ‘Anglo Saxons’ is denied by its universities and where almost any aspect of our nation’s past is tarred with the brush of being intrinsically racist and imperialistic.
Are we worthy successors of individuals such as my grandfather and the millions like him? Few today would fight if similar circumstances arose.
Yet that is hardly surprising: who would they be fighting for? For the managerial class of Sunak, Hancock, Starmer et al who have presided over decades of managed decline, ensuring their first-class remuneration for third-world-class governance?
The Second World War is forever trotted out as being emblematic of Britishness. Bunting, the Blitz and bashing Jerry – it’s a heady cocktail but is merely an opiate for the masses. That Britain vanished as it refused to transmit itself into subsequent generations, allowing itself to be run down and attacked by radical, parasitic ideologies. The population was meekly cowed by the threats of cultish militants.
As those in power are swayed by whichever Millenarian cult is doing the rounds and enact their repressed legislation in a sordid attempt to leave a tawdry ‘legacy’, the edifice of the Britain of yesteryear is being defaced beyond recognition. A government which spied on its dissidents during Covid and simultaneously abandoned any pretence of holding liberty in high regard is testament to such changes.
Indeed, changes to the British mindset have been long under way, aided by the rapidly altering demographics. Levels of immigration which once occurred over millennia happen over the course of a few weeks, with arrivals unable to be assimilated into the culture. Not that they are not encouraged to do so, with ghettoisation and a fractured society preferable to cohesion for the power-mad; the resulting disharmony the perfect excuse for extensions of their authority.
Of course, many from the then-Empire fought alongside us during the conflict my grandfather was involved in. That should not let us lose sight of the fact that we, too, have a home. To state such a bland fact should not be controversial, yet to utter such truths in today’s Britain is a high sin. If everything goes south here, there is nowhere else to go.
The last time I saw my grandfather we spoke about his paratrooper training. His stories were always entertaining – he had one of those ridiculously adventurous lives that you read about with admiration. A relic of the past, in many ways: the modern world has so many more restrictions on action and movement that to lead the same life now seems improbable.
They were echoes from a vanished world. As he vanished, so did that link to the past. Yet it was more than just that: it represented part of the passing of a Britain that so many died fighting to save, yet which was so rapidly given up by people who never understood the value of what they inherited.