ENDURANCE TEST - OR COMPASSION

We were delighted when we read in the local newspaper that on the following Saturday morning a company of the Coldstream Guards would visit Lancaster Castle, and later in the day would march and drill to a selection of Army marches to be played by the Coldstream Guards Band.

The display was due to take place in the beautiful rounds (I believe of Lord Shuttleworth) and an invitation to attend was extended to the general public.

Of course, we had to go, for Dad, now in his late seventies, was an ex Coldstteam Guard, a regular before the First World War who, as a reservist had been called up in 1914 to serve his King and his Country.

His stories of true happenings and of the physical endurance shown by the Guards were legends in our family and we knew of the time when Dad first fired at a German soldier, and of the unexpected horror he felt when the man had fallen. He had fought in trenches chest high in filthy water in which rats swam around unconcerned by the nearness of humans. On one occasion, when wounded, he had sheltered with friend and foe in a farm house which was under crossfire from the opposing sides and the men had tended each another in their efforts to comfort.

So we, my sister and I, decided to take dad. The old Rover 90 was polished, feathered hats were brought out to be worn in honour of the occasion. We drove through quiet country lanes in all our glory -and hen through the ornate iron gates of the VIPs grounds. We reluctantly said "No" when asked by a rather gorgeous young officer if we were invited guests, and followed his instructions to park the car.

We found ourselves a good position to watch and soon he Guards were marching, true to their motto "Second to None". The marches played were good to hear; Colonel Bogey, Blaze Away and many such others. Dad stood, eyes shining. back as straight as a ramrod, and we felt he should have been a special guest, for surely he must have been the oldest ex-guardsman there?

And then the rain came - the cold heavy rain that penetrates to the bone, but still the Guards marched and we watched. Dad's face still looked stern, though now his eyes were cold and sad.

"Well Dad, what about it?" we asked, "what are you thinking about?"

He turned and said grimly, "They ought to take yon poor buggers in out of the rain!"

(This lovely little anecdote was sent by 85 year old Mrs Hopps of Heysham. She told the story of her Brother Cyril Whittle, A Coldsteam Guardsman killed in Italy in 1943, which is included in the Morecambe Book of Honour presented on 8 November. She sent a cheque for £20.00 for the Royal British Legion Poppy Day Appeal in his memory. So far £100 has been sent by people who have helped with stories for the Parish Books.)

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