In honour of all who served
Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day is a great time to learn about Soldiers from the past and from today. This lens honours the soldiers from my family, my country and around the world who all deserve recognition not only on this day but every day. It is a story that many can relate too, that some had to live through, and that we all can be inspired by.
Acknowledgements to my war heroes - Grandad, Uncle Vincent, Uncle Lewis, Uncle Harrison, Aunty Doreen, Aunty Sheila and Uncle Leonard.
by Sandra Wilson
Maureen quietly entered the nursery and peeked into the crib at the newborn sleeping inside. Her auburn hair fell over her shoulder and gently caressed the babies face. Maureen could not imagine being any happier. Last year, when she married Grayson, the happiness was shattered when the war began. Grayson, a member of the Royal Air Force was called to duty before the honeymoon ended. She became pregnant earlier in the honeymoon and although excited about the new arrival Maureen felt trepidation about bringing a baby into a world racked with war.
Gone to War
The air force had allowed Grayson to return on a short leave for the birth of Logan but now he was off again. His job was to fly his Lancaster ahead of the troops, bombing enemies that stood in the way. Although Maureen missed her husband she was happy to have the baby and filled her days with his care so to avoid worry over her husband and the war.
She smiled at her son and quickly left the room to answer the knock at the door. Lt. Donaldson stood at he door with a grim expression that worried Maureen immediately.
“There is a report” Lt. Donaldson began “that the Lancaster your husband was flying was shot down over occupied France. We haven’t been able to confirm whether he survived the crash or if the Germans have captured him. Right now we must wait until we can find a safe route into the territory”
Maureen sat down hard on the stairs. Grayson – shot down – Germans – so many thoughts filled her head. “The baby” she jumped up “how can I care for the baby alone? How can I support him?”
Lt. Donaldson held her shoulders at arm’s length. “One day at a time ma’am” and with that, he turned and marched out of the house.
Maureen stared after him until again the baby’s cry broke her from her reverie. She turned and ran up the stairs to see to her son.
Maureen reported for work the following Monday. Logan, wrapped in a papoose style carrier, was strapped to her back. The factory was smelly, noisy and had little light coming through the small dirty windows. The women were expected to put in long days of work with few breaks. Maureen needed to stop more frequently to tend to Logan. This angered her supervisor who disliked working with women.
"You will make up for all your breaks at the end of the day Mrs. Forrester" he would shout. Then, after her shift workers filed out, Maureen would put in another hour to cover her breaks. Maureen came home entirely exhausted. Her back ached from carrying Logan all day. Her arms ached from working the heavy machinery. Her eyes burned from the long hours of concentration and her feet swelled from the long time she spent standing on them.
The days were long and the week seemed endless but finally a rest came. Maureen had never felt so tired, she had little energy to tend to the household chores. There still was no word about Grayson and she felt very alone. Logan had become quiet and sallow, which Maureen expected, was due to those long days in the dirty factory. Despite the day off Maureen could only feel despair. The pay, although less than what Grayson had brought home, was needed in order for her and Logan to survive, but the work may kill them both.
A knock at the door meant that Maureen had to fight her aching muscles and lift herself up to answer the door. After great effort Maureen made it to the door and saw, on
the other side, Sister Clarice from the nearby church. Maureen paled at the sight of the nun sure she had brought horrible news about her husband but Sister Clarice smiled and took Maureen's hands.
"Our youth group would like to help the community." she began "We want to run a daycare centre for all the lovely children who need someone to watch them while their fathers are at war and their mothers are in the factories."
Maureen stared at the nun in disbelief. If Logan could be left in the care of the youth group she would not have to carry him on her back. He would not have to breathe in the stank factory air or suffer the noise and grime of the machines. Her back felt stronger already.
Months went by. Maureen's body adjusted to the physical demands of the factory. Her worry about Logan eased as he developed into a happy, healthy boy thanks to the time spent at the daycare.
In August the Germans bombed the factories. Maureen stood in horror as she saw the front of the factory she was working in become rubble. She and her fellow workers cowered in the furthest corner of the factory, and despite the fear, and the bombs, they survived.
Later that month the air raid sirens pierced the air. Maureen stopped her work and ran out of the factory. People everywhere were running for cover. Maureen ran to the church. She picked up Logan and along with the rest of the daycare workers and children she huddled in the church basement. The noise of the air raid siren was followed by the sound of engines from the low flying German aircraft. Maureen continued to protect her baby until at last they were given the all clear.
One day, as she worked in the factory, she looked up from her machine and saw someone walking toward her. She rubbed her tired eyes and tried to focus in the dim light. The man wore a tattered flight jacket and a rough beard. His hair was graying on the sides. Maureen focused again, he looked so much like Grayson. "Grayson!" She cried as the man came closer. "It is you!"
She ran to him and jumped into his arms. He hugged her tightly then put her down gently. "I almost did not recognize you" she told him.
"I barely recognized you either with those overalls and black smudges on your face.," replied Grayson.
"Well" Maureen commented, "the war has changed us all."
Wartime Woman is a story loosely based on the life of my Uncle Harrison and Aunty Doreen. They lived in England during WWII and my Uncle was a RAF pilot who flew Lancasters. The family tells a story about one of my uncles who was shot down during the war and managed to escape to safety. This story is chronicled from the side of the loved ones left at home.
Under a War-Torn Sky chronicles the other side of the story. The pilot that is shot down and must travel through a secretive system in order to get back home.
Capture the darker side of war along with hope, strength and courage.
Highway of Heroes Tribute - For our Canadian Heroes
The story of Silent Night is a touching tale of peace that will bring out your Christmas spirit.
About the Author
Sandra is a writer and educator as well as owner and operator of Home Education Resource Emporium.
She firmly believes that although she is not a supporter of war and violence it is important to support those that go to war with the belief that they are making the world a better place for us all.