Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
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The Other War

When I wrote to Arthur (Clarke) I threatened to drop in on him if the veterans should gather to celebrate the Great RAF Strike in South East Asia on the fiftieth anniversary in 1996. I had some worries about the appropriateness of wearing my Defence Medal at this shindig but revelations in the Observer the other weekend have swept any reservations aside.

Seems that the gongs sported by Prince Charles when hobnobbing with the D-Day veterans included the Queen's Service order (New Zealand), Q. Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, Q.E. II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977, Canadian Forces Decoration Medal 1991, and the New Zealand Commemorative medal 1990...

That collection must have impressed the old sweats no end. ■

Letter to Steve Sneyd, 24 June 1994

This week's Metro News has the headline SYMPATHY FURY OF WAR VETS which puzzled me a while as it kept catching my eye. Investigation revealed that there's an event in Manchester next week marking the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, and "Worldwrite" have got M'cr City player Niall Quinn to add a letter as part of a target of 700,000 letters of friendship and sympathy for the bomb victims to be sent to Japan.

The Manchester branch of the Association of Far East PoW Clubs, not surprisingly, ask "who gives sympathy to us and remembers the price we paid?"

The organiser of an exhibition at Castlefield, "One Thousand Suns", "can't understand why PoW veterans object". I doubt if they'll ever see eye to eye. I recall that as I was steaming in the direction of India I was perturbed at the euphoria I left behind because the war in Europe had ended; there was an attitude that the war was as good as over, which completely turned a blind eye to the deadly slog of the Pacific war and the Burma front, which I didn't share, natch.

The sudden collapse after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki raids transformed the situation. Setting the results of those acts against the continuing slaughter that would have taken place without their deterring effect may be problematic in retrospect. But I find it hard to do anything but welcome the release that resulted from dropping the bombs.

Who can be objective in the face of personal survival? ■

Letter to Steve Sneyd, 21 October 1994

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