Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anthem to Spared Youth

Sixty-nine years ago today we were reading the day-old news of the crushing victory by the RAF over the Luftwaffe. It was the day that - without histrionics - saved our civilisation. From 15th September 1940 onwards, Britain was not going to be knocked out of the war. It was not the day that the war was won. It was the day it wasn't lost.
The youthful faces who won that battle are nearly all dead now. Over five hundred died in the Battle of Britain. The grim reaper took a lot more throughout the rest of the war. Age is fast catching up on the remaining few of The Few.
Their counterparts today are getting ready to go to University or are part-way through their degrees. They will not be asked to make the sacrifices of 1940. They have the same cocky exuberance; the same jokes; the same Devil-may-care attitudes. However much we decry the youth of today - any "today" you want to mention - I remain convinced that these lads on the streets would be the equal of their grandfathers and great-uncles. These are the same lads who stood with Harold, died at Balaclava and Trafalgar, drowned in the mud of Flanders in 1917 and a million other times and places in British history.
There was nothing particularly special about the Class of 1940.
They were just given the chance to shine.

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