Haunting effects of war last a lifetime for many
I RECALL growing up in Cleethorpes in the 1950s visiting many times the home of my best friend's grandparents.
The last weeks of his grandfather's life were not kind to this once strong, fearless man who was hardly able to converse with any of his family due in no small part to the outpouring of pent up emotion he had kept hidden for more than half his life.
I learned some years later he had signed up with the Army in 1914 and spent time in northern France before witnessing first hand the slaughter that was the Battle Of The Somme as a 20-year-old in 1916.
He carried his injuries received for the rest of his life without complaint, although he was, according to his wife's accounts, a totally different man who returned home after involvement in more than four years of conflict.
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Never did he discuss any aspect of the war and would withdraw into himself at any mention of it.
As his life drew to a close at the age of 58, he allowed himself to return to those terrible times he had experienced and tried to relieve himself of the guilt he carried at having survived the ordeal while so many had not.
My final memory of him is visiting his home with my friend and his parents. The most vivid recollection I have is how he held his wife's hand so tightly her fingers turned white and as he sobbed out years of never before seen emotion he repeated over and over things such as "Whatever have they done? Whatever have we done? Who is going to take responsibility for this madness? Just what bloody difference has it all made?".
As a six-year-old boy I had no idea what the significance of these comments were.
As we learn of yet another two British and four US soldiers killed in Afghanistan by those supposedly on the same side, as five young Australian lives recently lost in just one day in this futile war in Afghanistan I can't help but feel my friends' grandfather's questions will be asked just as earnestly by many others in relation to this unwinnable conflict that seems to have neither an end nor a solution.
The Telegraph says
Following the arrival of this letter to Viewpoint, we discovered how local soldier Ryan Rowbottom was seriously injured in the attack, last Friday, that killed his commanding officer, Grenadier Guard Lance Corporal Duane Groom.
This news was a stark reminder to the people of North East Lincolnshire of the horrors of war and the suffering that continues in Afghanistan.
Somehow a conclusion needs to be found, which will see an end to this conflict – however, would any end see a return to persecution for many natives of that country?