10 Aug, 2020

The War … and gratitude …

This simple scene hangs on a wall over my internal staircase:

This, and another that I have, were gifts to my father.  In WWII he served in the army in the European operations.  It was a low rank, a corporal I think.  I know little more.  Why is it that so many of us post-war children didn’t ask our parents for details of their lives during the war?  My father never spoke about it, although he did bring a few things back home when it was all over.  Perhaps, like so many, he didn’t want to talk about it.  But I didn’t push, more’s the pity.

This is what I do know: he was involved in the liberation of France and Belgium.  I have photos of him with the Eiffel Tower behind him, and also in parts of Brussels.  It seems that in Belgium many allied troops were welcomed into the homes of the citizens.  My father stayed for weeks with a family there, and they looked after him well.

The father in the Belgian household was an artist.  In gratitude he gave my father three paintings.  This is one.  It’s done in oil on wood – no canvas or other suitable material was available then.

I find it simple and charming, and in my own way I’m proud that whatever my father’s contribution was during those terrible years, it was recognised and rewarded by these simple, charming gifts.

1 Comment

  1. What a lovely picture! The simple things are usually best. (I remember one time I had some prints that I picked up somewhere. You said they were “bourgeois”! My taste in art is still firmly and unashamedly bourgeois.) My father was a tank commander in the Battle of the Bulge. He, too, never talked about it. I’ve asked my brothers, three of whom served in the military, and they also said Dad refused to talk about the war. From what I’ve read, it was horrible.

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