Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve Club and Nobby Elmer

Every Christmas Eve since 1967 a group of friends have met to have a drink during the day, we ended up calling ourselves the Christmas Eve Club. When we were younger it was an excuse to visit loads of different pubs and get thoroughly drunk, my brother and myself would then go to my mum’s house and celebrate her Christmas that included a big meal  by 10 o clock we were asleep. The Kids would wake me up and then Val would take us home, Norman’s wife eventually stopped coming Christmas Eve but funnily enough Mum always said she enjoyed seeing her boys have a good time.

Norman Clarke Martin ClarkeTrevor Waghorn Trevor Jordan John Elmer
missing Keith Whyman Keith Jacobs

As the years went by we all matured or was it that we just could not take the alcohol anymore? We would reminisce about youth and what we had done during the past year, some of us only met Christmas Eve. Also as we got older we started to lose our parents, we would then talk about there life and what it was to be brought up by them. All of them had seen World War 2 and when we were young we all learnt a lot from what they told us having a German mother I saw both sides, yet we still did not know everything.

One of my best Mates Johnny Elmer was saying that his mother was 96 and still lived by herself; she obviously had carers come in but still an achievement. John’s Dad “Nobby Elmer” has died a few years previous and I related how I popped round to see him not long before he died. He got out his scrap book of his years as a prisoner of war; he was captured at Dunkirk and released at the end of the European war, 5 years in all. He knew my mother was German, well he should do myself and John started primary school together, I asked what he felt about the Germans. His reply was a shock as he held no malice against his captives, they were just soldiers like us Brits serving there country and the regime in prison was hard he said but the guards were never cruel, I do not know if he was Christian but there was a sense of Christian forgiveness.

As I related this story and said to John you must keep the scrap book or give it to a military museum, he came out with more stories. Nobby Elmer was kept as a prisoner in Poland and when the Soviet Army was advancing all the prisoners were made to march. The long march started on Boxing Day 1944. Nobby reckoned they were moved for their own safety as the Soviet Army was killing everything in its path. This march would take him across Poland, Czechoslovakia and right through Germany and finished in April 1945. In that time they slept by the roadside and in pig styles to keep warm. When they eventually reached there destination they were given a prison camp formally occupied by the French and the mattress were riddled with lice and bugs. In typical British pluck they threw the entire mattress out on the parade ground and demanded new ones and the Germans agreed. Even after 4 months of marching they still would not succumb to being down trodden there was still a roar in the British lion.

This was not the end, his freedom came when one morning they woke to find no guards and the gates open eventually he was flown home. I said he must have come back to a good pay packet, he laughed and said he got nothing of back pay, what about counselling another laugh, what you done in those days you talked your mates or your mum and dad.

After all that you would think his job had been done? NO he was called back to barracks after just 4 weeks leave to train for the assault on Japan as luck had it for him the war finished in the September

You could not invent a story like this that is why it is so important for people not to forget

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