Thursday, 31 May 2007

All This And World War Two

I was born less than 13 years after the end of the second world war. My earliest memories are being bathed in the kitchen sink, at age 2. But not long after, I remember being shown a film at the seaside. How to recognise mines - most of the patterns from 1940 looked like old rusty drink cans, with a wire coming out of one end.

Drink cans were made of steel in those days, not aluminium, and were much thicker.

There were still Bomb Sites where buildings hadn't been rebuilt in the 60's. Not many, but some. Many air-raid shelters, abandoned, rank, flooded and foul. Some craters in the countryside where 1-ton high capacity land mines had scooped out enormous craters. Maybe some were from V-2s, but I don't think so, we were too far west of London for that.

My childhood was surrounded by the reverberating echoes of the great conflict begun only 25 years previously, and there were still Spitfires and Hurricanes in flypasts. Some nations - such as Spain - even used WW II vintage aircraft, Messerschmits and Heinkels, in front-line service.

There seemed little difference between the Supermarine Spitfires that intercepted Dornier 17 Recon aircraft over the Channel, and the English Electric Lightnings that intercepted the Tupolev 95 recon aircraft over the North Sea. The one difference was that Civil Defence was pointless. There were too many targets too close, the fireballs would overlap near us, if ever the sirens wailed again.

Those were also the days of John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Silver Beatles. They soon dropped the Silver though.

In 1976, the Film "All this and World War II" came out, which mixed some war footage, some clips from vintage and contemporary films (notably "Tora Tora Tora") and the music of the Beatles - though not performed by them. Although flawed, it's a film that resonates with me, and the 60's. For although it was made in the mid 70's, it was a film fragrant with the atmosphere of the mid 60's. With goods still marked "for export only", or clothing still labelled with the number of clothing coupons required, though these restrictions were 10 years out of date then.

It's never been released on DVD. But here is the trailer, and below it are hyperlinks to the film, split into 7 parts (unfortunately truncated) and posted on YouTube.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

The film has rare clips from the defence of Midway - the obsolescent TBD Devastators going out on the attack on the Japanese Fleet from which none would return. The equally venerable SB2U Vindicators in their first and final combat action. More of interest too, the long deserted streets in California where Japanese-Americans used to live. It was all recent history then, as recent as Iraq War I is to us.

I remember those days in the 60's, England Swings, Carnaby Street, the Mersey Beat, the days when I thought I'd have a normal teenage girlhood. An innocent time, no security checks at airports, almost no drugs in schools. More and more families were acquiring Cars, and Telephones, and even Televisions.

They were also the days where within 3 minutes of the attack warning we would be froth on top of a mushroom cloud, where homosexuality and paedophilia were punished with the same severity, and where Coloured People had to use separate drinking fountains in much of the USA. Days where to have Cancer meant you would die. Where Polio still crippled many, and where we all had to have our smallpox vaccinations. And where people like me were tortured (aversion therapy), given shock treatment, or lobotomised.

Those Innocent days sucked. Today, even though there is the same "Master Race" Inferiority-Complex that led to Auschwitz within Islamofascism, and even though we have troubles enough, 2007 is far better than 1967. Not just technologically, but the kids are better educated, more understanding, more tolerant. We just have to show them that Evil exists, that we have seen it before, and that it must be confronted at the earliest opportunity. Or we'll have all this and World War Three.

1 comment:

Steve said...

It's surprising how different two recollections from people of similar ages can be. My abiding memory of the early 60s is of how limited the food was -- like mushrooms being a rare seasonal treat.

Being out beyond the black stump in Oz from 65-67 (Carnarvon, WA) I was completely out of the Swinging London loop; while nuclear worries and manky old air-raid shelters are something I connect more with 20 years ago than 40.