Tag Archives: parachute regiment

My Father; The Soldier.

6 Nov

I have written about my father before.  The writer, the advertising man, the playwright, but never before the soldier.

I was looking through some old boxes of photographs last week when I found his parachute regiment wings.  Then I remembered that the sixth of November, it would be sixteen years since he died.  I think perhaps he wanted me to remember him as the young and brave soldier that he was.

Peter was six months too late to fight in World War II.  He joined the army as soon as he could.   His drive was to help those that had been torn apart by war.  Joining the Royal Army Medical Corp, his first posting was at Netley Hospital in Southampton helping rehabilitate the American soldiers whose bodies had been shattered by the conflict.  He worked on their bodies and limbs getting them in a well enough condition to make the long journey back home.

My father’s next posting in 1948 was Germany.  The country had been flattened and it was part of his job to this time help get a country, rather than a man back on it’s feet again.  He was now attached to the Parachute Regiment and was trained to jump into any war zone if need be to treat the wounded and of course fight his way through as he saved lives.  Dad quickly became a sergeant and loved the responsibility of drilling and training new recruits and of course the camaraderie that came with it.  “The happiest days of my life,” dad would often say much to my mother’s annoyance.

At the beginning of the new decade, unfortunately war came calling again and dad went to Korea.  He never spoke about this much, until one evening in the 1990’s.  My father was a deeply spiritual man in a wonderful non-judgmental and life affirming way.  Dad had been pouring a few rather large whiskies and started chatting about his old life.  His face looked filled with sorrow and anxiety.  Dad told me he had killed somebody in conflict in Korea.  “I had no choice it was me or him, he was going to kill me so I fired and I had a split second to make that decision.”  Although he knew he had no other choice, the fact that he had taken another man’s life weighed so heavily on my father.  He had joined the Royal Army Medical Corp to save as many lives as he could and he had taken one.  I think this haunted him for the rest of his life.

I loved my father dearly.  He was funny, lovable, kind and brave, yes very brave.

Even when the Suez Crisis blew-up he was ready to go and do his bit.  Once again much to my mother’s great annoyance.

I can see him in my mind’s eye now showing me the correct way to salute and trying to get me to enjoy military music.  God bless dad and this November, as every November I shall salute that young brave soldier who wanted to make a difference.

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