Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips


Larry and the team by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 23, 2009, 8:06 am
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team photo



Reflections by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 23, 2009, 6:20 am
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Breakfast time. I have been thinking a lot about the ceremony last night. I was very moved and I’m trying to work out why.

It was such a scene. All of us clustered by the road, next to a field of maize, twenty very senior military men and women, the town’s officials and the people of the city. As the sun set, the eternal flame by the simple monument to the Halifax Crew flickered brighter, and a series of wreathes were laid with a salute or a simple bow of the head.

Larry said the words of rememberance and returned to the theme – “They gave their todays for our tomorrows.”

I feel I have witnessed a very special moment.
A story honouring those aircrew in that Halifax, but also showing gratitude for the catalyst for all this – an extraordinary young student of 17.

Larry also spoke about the school they had seen and how it was “fantastic” that children were taught about the perils of war.

He ended by saying “One thing stays in this head of mine – the Netherlanders never forgot”. Looking at last night, they didn’t and I really believe they never will.



The Bells by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 22, 2009, 4:42 pm
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The bells – more complex and quieter than ours – have been ringing out real wartime tunes.  Imagine a piano with small bells instead of strings.

The veterans have returned and are getting into the old vehicles here to go to the memorial.

I overheard Larry say “We are being treated like Gods. We must be careful. ” I think they are really appreciating being real guests of honour.

Many speakers at the book event earlier were quite emotional. This act of being liberated obviously affects people greatly  – even a generation or two later. That is what the UK doesn’t really know perhaps – directly.

Anyway sunny, a big wide town square, dominated by this high church,  lots of people sitting out in the cafes and this real feeling of a town wanting to welcome the veterans. .

It’s very humbling to be here.



The civic centre ceremony veterans by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 22, 2009, 2:59 pm
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the veterans



The civic centre ceremony by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 22, 2009, 2:58 pm
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civic centre ceremonyHere now. Arrived two minutes ago. This is where the Town Mayor met everyone this morning.  The band play to about 50 people seated. Speeches and Wesley is presenting Larry with a copy of the book he has written about the war history here. He told us over lunch he want’s to join the Army and war history is an important part of training.

Larry and his fellow veterans still look great in their blazers and medals. JP our cameraman has been admiring the cameras of three or four news crews that are here too! I expect this will be on the tv tonight.



Back at the barracks by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 22, 2009, 1:10 pm
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After lunch Larry and the veterans are having a well earned rest back at the barracks. We are in the town square having a sandwich and chatting to Wesley. He knows everything about his country and the war and has just recorded an interview with us. He really believes that young people like him must remember “to stop it happening again”.

Later we are filming a ceremony here in the square and then driving to the site of the Halifax memorial which is to be unveiled then. It is by the field the plane crashed in – the plane – three of who’s crew are now buried in the cemetery – where we were thismorning.

Sun out = good.



The grand presentation by The National Lottery Community Fund
September 22, 2009, 12:32 pm
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wesley, becky , and fudgeBecky the director presenting Wesley with some Devon fudge – the video crew are from there.