world : Diaries show D-Day reality soldier hid from family

world : Diaries show D-Day reality soldier hid from family
world : Diaries show D-Day reality soldier hid from family

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:52 PM

Nafeza 2 world - 19 July

"This has been one of the most unpleasant days of my life so far. Went out in sunshine to get tank out of bomb crater, about 12 feet deep.

"Officer commanding tank had been snipered and was still in turret. We buried him on the spot and managed to get tank out. Officer was a new one and was only just 20 years of age.

"Dead Jerries and our men lying around in various places. Should have been buried before now. Stop at one place for an hour and then on.”

In one passage which is too gruesome to reproduce in full, Syd recollects the scene of tank tracks churning up the bones of fallen combatants but he didn’t know which side they were from.

Yet his love of cigarettes and even eggs shines through when he records collecting "a few fresh eggs from abandoned farms" and having "egg and sausage for breakfast" after exchanging one cigarette for three eggs.

Syd even takes time to diarise football, cricket and cycling competitions in his unit while his letters focus on his family life back home.

"Gloria tells me that Paul, (who was a toddler), says puff! when she mentions daddy to him.

“I hope that if this letter is censored that the censor will allow that bit to go through, as I know how much it will ease your mind.

"Anyhow I’m OK dear, and my only worry is not having your letters, to know how you are.

"I hope and pray that you are well Joe and the kiddies, who I miss so."

Julie Jones said she could not recognise the soldier behind her grandfather.

“The only sign we had that he was ever even in the Army was a framed photo of him in uniform next to the telly. As far as we were concerned, he was just ordinary, safe, old grampa.

“Until he died, when I was 16, I’d never heard of his diaries... before then he’d just been the kind man who’d allowed me and my cousins to put curlers in his usually Brylcreemed-back hair after he got out of the bath."

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