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

The monument and the maize by Big Lottery Fund
September 23, 2009, 5:03 pm
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monument and maize

Getting ready to leave by Big Lottery Fund
September 23, 2009, 9:51 am
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Have just recorded a final interview with Larry. He is so elloquent and very humbled by the whole thing.Again he said some wonderful things.

The Veterans have been put up in the Weert barracks. We said our goodbyes. It was a bit sad to go.

Wesley says he’s back to school tomorrow.

We now go to the monument again to get some close up pictures which we couldn’t do yesterday because of the crowds.

Cloudy today so lucky with the nice weather yesterday too.

Reflections by Big Lottery 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 Big Lottery 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 by Big Lottery 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.

The windmill at weert by Big Lottery Fund
September 22, 2009, 11:31 am
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the windmill at weert

Lunch in Weert by Big Lottery Fund
September 22, 2009, 11:07 am
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lunch in weert