This picture is from my family archive. It’s a letter from King George VI, that was sent to me personally when World War II came to an end. I was only a lad of five at the time, in my first year of school in Oldham, Lancashire, my then home-town in England’s North-West.
Of course, every other school child in Britain on that day also received one I guess, but for me, this one (once I could read & understand it’s significance) became one of my treasured possessions, since copied and made available to my own children and to their children too.
The letter is an historic reminder of times that brought suffering to so many (on both sides of the war), and for me, in later years, it helped in finding out more of how my father (Fred Ogden Sr) joined the Royal Air Force; what happened to him; and how my mother and our wider family coped with the uncertainties that war brings about.
One of war’s uncertainties … a very worrying one for those left at home, is not-knowing from day-to-day how your loved ones who are sent away to war overseas are doing. Are they safe? Are they being supported? What happens if they are captured by the enemy? Will the postman be delivering one of those telegrams? … oh we hope that that never happens.
And yet it nearly did! Dad had first been posted to Singapore, which fell to the advancing Japanese army in 1942 and many British soldiers and airmen were captured and made prisoners of war. I remember Mum telling me many years later (when I was an adult myself) that they (the family in Oldham) had feared that he was one of that captured group.
It must have been a worrying time, though a little later they received the news that he had been shipped to India from Singapore (just in time!), then sent with his squadron to Burma. Towards the end of the war, he returned via India to his family in England. It was 1946 (the same year-date as on the letter I got from The King!) that he arrived home in Oldham.
I was a five-year-old lad by then, and I saw dad (for the very first time) as he turned the corner of our street in Oldham, carrying a kit-bag on his shoulder.
I can clearly remember … it is my first memory of anything from the past!!
Extra Info 1:
By remarkable coincidence, some 32 years later I married an Indian girl, and guess what … her maiden name was Burmawalla (i.e. someone from Burma).
Extra Info 2:
In addition to the royal letter that I received as a five-year-old, I was also sent a separate sheet with all the relevant war dates that were seen as significant by the British Government … and to this document, my mother added a new section headed: ‘MY FAMILY’s WAR RECORD and presented it to me.
Here it is:
Thank you for reading … Hope you enjoyed the read.
Here below, is a box-link to another Royal story of mine … this time from several years later, (when I was 41 years old). I’d been invited to attend a welcome ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II in the Pacific Nation of Kiribati:
But before you click on the box-link … If you liked the story you’ve just read, please do a quick scroll down to the end of this article and give it a clap and comment using the icons at the end of this post … Thank you … Fred
This post was previously published on ILLUMINATION.
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Photo credit: Fred: Almost Famous