I spoke to Roy this morning. Throughout our conversation, Roy’s dog was barking at me, and Willow was sniffing his pockets for biscuits. Endearing. As usual, we touched on the weather.
“Bit blustery today. Glad to have this sun though, I am camping next week, up in those fields. You may be interested in this, what with you spending time in Korea. I am helping to run a martial arts camp, with a lot of taekwondo in it, the Korean martial art”
“Nah, I am too old for that. Besides, I never saw anything that could stop a bullet.” Roy’s face darkens as he casts his mind back. I know that Roy served in Korea during the war. I wait for more, as I know its coming.
“It got really mad when the Chinese joined in. They’d come at you in waves, three thousand of them. They’d have a woman in front, playing the bugle. They were mesmerised by the bugle. So its easy. You shoot the bugler, then they all fall apart.” He shields his eyes from the sun. Dogs still sniff and bark. Willow sets next to me and leans in close, Perhaps she understands.
“Three hundred of us went out there, only eighty of us came back. There aren’t many of us left now. National Service – I trained up there….” He points to GCHQ up at Morwenstow. “We had a month of basic training, then came here to fire guns in to the sea. The boats would pull the targets across, and we’d fire at them. Then we had a week off, and that was it, we were off.”
“Did you ever write any of it down?”
“Nah, what’s the point. Its in the past. Best left there. The second world war boys – they didn’t bother writing it down. It was a long time ago.”
“I was born in nineteen-seventy” I tell him, ” I have no understanding at all at what any of that could have been like.”
Some small talk, then we go our separate ways. How lucky that the accident of my birth was when it was.
Roy, maybe I shouldn’t have written, but Its good for us to know.