The Dam Busters and Books

My poor old father lived in a house full of women – except for the Siamese cats. All cats were male.

He should have had sons. He tried so hard to make us capable of catching and gutting fish, skinning rabbits, and excelling at marbles. One birthday he gave me a cricket bat, and on another a couple of cap guns ( which I adored). The nicest comment I ever heard him say about both my sister and I was that we “ never cried like girls”. PC. What’s that?

A tough nut he never talked about the war. Not in the home, nor with mates. Compartmentalising things into a box with the label, PAST, was his survival strategy.

Once I started high school my Dad started feeding me military books to read. He had already directed my reading towards the likes of Robinson Caruso, The Last of the Mohicans, and Kipling, but secondary school led to a change.

The first, which I remember vividly, was Enemy Coast Head, by Guy Gibson.V.C., who led the DamBusters Raid. He handed the book to me as I was running out the front door to catch a bus. Didn’t say a word – just passed it over. What an odd book to put into a school bag, hey……..

When I finished it within the week I simply left the book in his bedroom.

A few days later he handed me No Passing Glory by Andrew Boyle, the biography of Sir Leonard Cheshire. Same thing: he just handed it to me to read in silence.

A couple of weeks later my father asked if I actually read the two books. Of course, I said. One did not disobey one’s father – in those days, at least. He looked sceptical. So you know what the old bugger did? He started hounding his twelve year old daughter with questions – which of course I was more than capable of answering. Unfortunately, I was never able to answer the maths questions…

I was reminded of this when I read there were moves to remake the movie, The Dam Busters. New information has become available with the secrecy codes lifted apparently. See here.

Poor old fella would be so disgusted that I can cry with the best of them these days.

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