As a young lad I watched a lot of war films. I grew up in an era where so many of the classic ones were made, cinema entertainment for my parents and uncles and aunts, their generation, as reminders of what they had lived through when they were young.
I saw them on TV, not ‘at the pictures’. First I saw black & white films on a black & white TV, where a receding white dot came after the National Anthem on those nights when I was allowed to stay up late. Then came one of the first opportunities to go and see a film in colour and on the big screen at the cinema – “A Bridge Too Far.”
The sheer scale of that experience is almost beyond words to describe. I had never seen anything like it, and I was utterly absorbed. Arnhem and Operation: Market-Garden then became a point of fascination that has stayed with me ever since. It wasn’t long after seeing the film that I also learnt I had family – a Great Uncle – who had been there, casually mentioned by a maternal relative one evening at a ‘family tea’. As old aunts have a habit of doing.
I still need to dedicate some time for some research tasks on this Great Uncle, and to try to find out whereabouts he was involved, and then with that completed, I aim to visit those places. And I read anything and everything I can not just about Market-Garden but anything to do with the British Airborne in the Second World War. It was a random exchange of comments – on Twitter of all places – that made me gather up what I call my ‘Arnhem Library’ to photograph it, at which point I just sat there looking at all those books, lost again as I was that first night ‘at the pictures’. I have read many of them too, but I still have some reading to go.
So, at some point, I best get started with that, and the family history research too.