The Second World War has a central place in British culture, being the topic of many a classic film set at the time – although most of these old productions focused mainly on a white perspective.
On Sunday we commemorate the contribution of British as well as Commonwealth military men and women involved in the conflicts since the First World War and in particular, we are celebrating Armistice Day, the day the First World War came to an end.
To mark the occasion, a film is now out showing how truly terrible were the conditions the soldiers faced: ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, composed with original footage from the Imperial War Museums’ archive and interviews with servicemen and women.
Fortunately, the latest movies and stories that are now told aim at commemorating the suffering and sacrifice of many people from many different parts of the world. The MG trust has beautiful personal stories of the parts played by people from different continents in both world wars: Africa, India, South-East Asia and more as well as some interesting statistics, http:www.mgtrust.org
Here is a snippet from one:
‘At Cranwell (where he was an pilot), Billy had his first batman, a man who had been batman to King George V, Billy described him as a real smooth Jeeves type. ‘I was a little coloured boy from the Caribbean and I instinctively called him ‘Sir.’ ‘No, sir’ he hastily corrected, ‘it is I who call you Sir.’
On a similar note, the Imperial War Museum in London has an exhibition celebrating the contribution to the Second World War made by the Windrush generation, the people who came on the Windrush boat from the West Indies to the UK who were mainly veterans of the Second World War.
We are fortunate in the UK that we honour our Armed Forces, and we also do that by buying poppies to support the British Legion for ex-soldiers. They make about £40 million a year from the poppy appeal and they need it.
If you want to get involved this Remembrance day you can buy a poppy, or watch on TV the concert from the Albert Hall on Saturday night, and the ceremony at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning, or for a more realistic perspective on the war watch They Shall Not Grow Old.