Courage and Sacrifice The People Remember


Courage and Sacrifice

History documentary series. EastEnders actress June Brown shares her wartime memories, from being an evacuee to seeing Coventry go up in flames.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to this historic airfield in Cambridgeshire.

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Now part of the Imperial War Museum,

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it's dedicated to the stories of people who've lived through conflict.

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Throughout Remembrance Week, we're honouring courage,

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celebrating heroes

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and remembering those who've suffered life-changing injuries.

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This is how the people remember.

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All this week I'm exploring some of the treasures here,

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with former Army officer Andy Torbet.

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And celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and broadcasting

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tell us the role their families played during the war.

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On today's programme, courage and sacrifice.

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We meet a man who is only alive today

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thanks to the bravery of another on the battlefield.

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My brother and I would not be here now, nor would my father have been.

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And I think that that is something which has a profound impact on you.

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Straight from Albert Square, June Brown,

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who plays Dot Cotton in EastEnders, shares her wartime memories with us.

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And on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War,

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we hear some VE Day memories.

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We ran into the street and everybody was cheering and yelling.

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It was heaven, absolute heaven.

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Good morning from the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

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Today, we're hearing about the extraordinary bravery

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of people who put themselves in harm's way to protect others.

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We have some stories of great courage,

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both on the battlefield and on the home front.

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Our guest today is the actress June Brown, a very familiar face

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from EastEnders, where she plays the long-suffering Dot Cotton.

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June, welcome to the programme.

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Tell us about your war years. Where were you during the war?

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I wasn't a brave warmonger, as they say.

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I lived in a backwater, really.

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I lived in East Anglia at the time. We were 12 miles from the sea.

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So I didn't have to go through all the bombing that

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the people in London did, and the big cities.

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Well, you say that, June, but you actually came under fire

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a few times. You saw some action!

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JUNE LAUGHS In a strange sort of way, yes.

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I was waiting for a trolleybus - I think I must have been about 15 -

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halfway down the hill that I lived in

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and I looked up to see if it was coming round the corner

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and I saw a German fighter coming down the road, machine gunning.

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Well, fortunately for me, there was a little cobbler's shop

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attached to a residential house right by the trolleybus stop.

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And it had a lot of steps.

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And I ran up the steps and flattened myself against the door, because...

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I didn't go in - I wasn't a customer.

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And then when it had gone, I just came down

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and waited at the bus stop again.

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And you, like so many children, had to leave home, didn't you?

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You had to be evacuated.

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Well, I WAS evacuated.

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I didn't have to be. It was the choice of my parents

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and we were...

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It was after Dunkirk, you see, and we were expecting an invasion.

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And I went with only two of my form, and one teacher -

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lovely Miss Midgley, the Latin teacher - to Leicester.

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I know you've got some wonderful stories to tell.

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You're going to tell us more about that in a moment.

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But as we heard, June was one of thousands of children

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evacuated during World War II, to keep safe from the bombs.

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But there were lulls during the bombing -

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and, with youngsters missing home, parents were faced with the choice

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of leaving their children in safer parts of the country

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or bringing them back to the potential danger of the cities.

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Historian Richard Van Emden has been finding out about

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the agonising decision one family had to make.

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As Germany invaded Poland, the British government

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swung into action to empty cities of their most vulnerable inhabitants.

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Nearly 800,000 children were evacuated

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and sent to safer places around Britain.

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But this safety came at a price.

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Families were torn apart.

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Young children were removed from their parents

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to be placed far away, with new and unfamiliar families.

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While children stayed with their host families,

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the Luftwaffe pounded Britain's cities for over a year.

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But when the bombing eased, parents faced a difficult choice.

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Was it safe for children to come home or should they stay away?

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I've come to Warrington to meet 82-year-old Eric Brady.

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Hello, Eric.

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'His life was changed for ever by a decision his parents made.'

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Eric was six years old when he and his sister Kitty

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were sent from their home in London to the Welsh valleys.

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When you left home, what was your initial reaction?

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Kitty went off in one direction and I went off in another

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to different foster parents.

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And that was the first time that Kitty and I had ever been separated

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like that, and I think it was at that point

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that evacuation began to be realistic to me.

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While Eric struggled to fit in with his host family,

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Kitty loved her new life.

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Can you describe the relationship between Kitty and her foster family?

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She was very happy where she was.

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She and her foster parents became very close.

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So much so that they asked if they could adopt Kitty

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if her mum and dad were killed in the Blitz.

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My mother seemed to resent this

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as the foster parents stealing Kitty.

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Eric's mother decided to bring Eric and Kitty back to London in 1942.

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They returned to school in Catford.

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A few months later, Eric was with his classmates in the dining hall

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when an air-raid siren sounded.

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Kitty appeared in the doorway

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when there was this very loud noise of the aero engines right overhead

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and the teacher screamed to us to get under the tables,

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cos there was no time to go to the shelter.

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And then there was a bang as the bomb hit the roof.

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I remember Kitty was at the door and she saw me, cos where

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I was was not too far from the door, and she came running towards me...

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..and then the bomb exploded

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and that was the last thing I remember.

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A German aircraft had dropped an enormous bomb onto the school.

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Eric and Kitty were trapped beneath tonnes of wreckage.

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So this is the footage at that time. Mm.

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So where were you, abouts?

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Right under the rubble, there.

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Does it feel almost surreal to know that,

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when this footage was being taken, you are there.

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Yeah, indeed.

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All under the rubble, like that.

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I mean...many other children, of course.

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After seven hours,

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Eric was miraculously found alive and taken to hospital.

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The initial prognosis the doctors gave to my father

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on that first interview was that if I lived, which was doubtful,

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then I'd be permanently crippled for life.

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When Eric regained consciousness, all he could think about

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was what had happened to his sister.

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I didn't know, really, where Kitty was.

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In fact, when I began to come round in hospital,

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my mother was coming in to see me every day.

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Er...I kept asking for Kitty.

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And then days passed.

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And, er, the sister's office had a big window

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that looked into the ward

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and I could see my mother talking to the sister

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and then my mother came back.

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And, um, she said Kitty was dead.

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And, um, she'd been found a few yards away from me.

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So Mum and I cried together.

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And that was it.

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Kitty was dead.

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The attack on the school resulted in the largest number of children

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killed by one bomb in the whole of the war.

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Decades later, Eric discovered his mother

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had kept a secret from him about that terrible day,

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which his brother, Eddie, revealed to him.

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Eddie and I were talking about the school

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and I said what my mother had told me,

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that Kitty had been found a few yards away from me.

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And Eddie said, "No, that isn't right.

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"She was found lying on top of you, all down your right-hand side,

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"shielding you." It was Kitty who'd shielded me.

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Took the blows that would have killed me.

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Sorry.

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A memorial in Catford pays tribute to the lives of the 38 children

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and six teachers who were killed.

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How did it make you feel to find out years later

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that Kitty had saved your life?

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She could have run to the shelters herself and been saved.

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But she didn't - she came running to me.

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To have given up the chance of safety herself just to get to me.

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It made me think what a terrific girl Kitty was.

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Never forgotten it.

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Incredible to think that little girl saved her brother's life.

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Now, June, when you were evacuated,

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did you feel safer being away from Ipswich?

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Not really, no,

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cos it wasn't very dangerous in Ipswich, you see, at the time.

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It never was. There was only one raid on the docks.

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No, I was quite happy.

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There were one or two incidents, of course,

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because we lived with a very nice couple who didn't have any children.

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They'd taken these three girls - they were very quiet.

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And one day they decided they'd give us a treat

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and take us to the theatre

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and we went to see the musical comedy The Maid Of The Mountains.

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I'll start to sing you the song if you like, but I won't.

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And anyway, it was in three acts and after the second act,

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the warning sounded, the air-raid warning,

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and our Mr and Mrs Miller thought as they were in charge of us

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they'd better take us home to that Anderson shelter in the garden,

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which was corrugated steel, I suppose.

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And we were walking home and they were bombing Coventry

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and it was red - the sky was full of flames and red -

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and we could see the tracer bullets.

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Well, the ack-ack guns they were.

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And planes in the searchlights.

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So it was one of those awful situations, you know,

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where people are dying and killed.

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You'd been evacuated. You were a child.

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How long were you away from home? Did you miss home?

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Oh, very little time, you see. I mean, we were home for Christmas.

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We'd gone, I think, probably about September.

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I don't think we were there longer than September, October, November,

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cos that was when it was, Coventry - November.

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And we went home for Christmas, you see, cos we felt we were safer

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in Ipswich, where there weren't any air raids.

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Only one later on. Only once we went...

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Well, we'd go down the shelter if there were warnings,

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cos the planes were always passing over us,

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but in the end we got to...

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Poor mother, she'd say, "Come in the sh..."

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"No, Mother, we're too tired. No, we're going to stay in bed.

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"No, we don't want to get up, Mother. No, we're too tired."

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So we wouldn't get up.

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So, when you were back home in Ipswich,

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do you remember seeing planes flying overhead?

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Well, mostly they flew overnight. We were a pathway, you see,

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and they flew over us, so we got warnings because of it.

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But I did see duels in the sky

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between the Spitfires and Messerschmitts

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and also their bombers and, you know, if they shot one down,

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one saw that happen,

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and the pilot in the Spitfire would do a victory roll.

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And tell us about the shelter that your aunt built in her garden.

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Well, we had a really good shelter.

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It was a beach hut from Felixstowe.

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Well, since the beaches were mined all during the war

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because, maybe, of invasion - stop them getting in -

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Uncle decided to take it

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and put it in the garden as an air-raid shelter.

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So, Uncle Eric and Uncle Bill dug the hole, put in the wooden hut

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and covered it with the other earth

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and that was supposed to be our bomb shelter.

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Well, it might have stopped the shrapnel,

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but I don't think it would have stopped the bombs.

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And do you remember being inside it? Oh, yes, that was the day

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when I'd seen these bombs drop out of these planes

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flying across the sky that I thought were Spitfires

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and I thought, "Aren't they lovely?"

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And the bomb bays opened and the bombs started falling

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and I just thought, "Well, I'd better get inside."

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And do you know, I was really frightened

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once I was in the shelter.

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I didn't make a noise - you didn't make any noises

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or moan or cry or groan. Oh, no, stiff upper lip.

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I was probably a bit white and a bit trembly

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and she was a bit ashamed of me

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but, you see, I couldn't see what was going on.

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But it's just being in that confined space and not being able to see.

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Incredible memories, June. So vivid all these years later, as well.

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We'll talk to you more later on.

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But now, when the First World War began,

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it was during an age of Empire.

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The men fighting for Britain came from across the world,

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but one country stood out for the sheer numbers of soldiers

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it sent to fight.

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As many as one in six soldiers fighting with the British Army

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were from India - more than the number from Wales,

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Scotland and Ireland combined.

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It's a contribution that often goes overlooked.

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Throughout history, man has waged war upon man.

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But in times of conflict,

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selfless acts of bravery shine through.

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One man who knows this only too well is Ian Henderson,

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whose grandfather's life was saved by an Indian soldier.

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My brother and I would not be here now, nor would my father have been.

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And I think that that is something which has a profound impact on you

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when you think about it.

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As war broke out across Europe, British forces on the Continent

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were vastly outnumbered by the advancing German army.

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To hold the line,

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Britain called on the armies of the nations of the Empire.

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Many answered the call - a million from India.

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Jaimal Singh is the grandson of one of those Indian soldiers.

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His grandfather was in the second Ludhiana Sikh regiment.

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After finishing his schooling,

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he was taken in the Army and was a quite a senior officer.

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And very handsome.

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In 1914, Jaimal's grandfather, Manta Singh,

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left his family in the Punjab, to help the British war effort.

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He was enlisted to fight in the first major offensive

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on the Western Front - the bloody Battle of Neuve Chapelle.

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His regiment was called in the North of France to fight the Germans.

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The weather conditions wasn't very good -

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wet and all the dirt.

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As the battle raged, Manta Singh's regiment came under attack.

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His commanding officer, George Henderson, was in the firing line.

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They were advancing successfully against the Germans

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but they overran their position

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and my grandfather was caught by enfilading fire

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and shot through both legs above the knee.

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My grandfather, Manta Singh, was assistant to Henderson

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so it was his duty to look after him.

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Manta Singh, without hesitating, stopped and picked him up

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and the story goes that as my grandfather was quite a big man,

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he put him in a wheelbarrow to get him back.

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But while Manta Singh was carrying out this selfless rescue,

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he too came under fire.

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He was bringing him back to the safety line

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and, of course, while he was doing it he got shot in the leg.

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Jaimal's badly injured grandfather was then transported

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to surroundings which couldn't have been more different

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to the horrors of the trenches.

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The Royal Pavilion in Brighton

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was built as an extravagant residence for King George IV.

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But in 1914, it found a new purpose.

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This Regency palace was turned into a field hospital

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for the Indian soldiers injured on the Western Front.

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Jaimal has come to meet Kevin Bacon,

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a curator at Brighton's Royal Pavilion.

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Hello, Jaimal. I'm Kevin,

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and welcome to the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion.

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So, this was the room which was converted

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for the Indian wounded soldiers, as a hospital?

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That's correct. You may be interested in this photograph,

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which shows this room as it was used as a hospital ward in 1915.

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More than 12,000 Indian soldiers

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were brought here to Brighton to be treated.

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How come such a beautiful building

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was used as a hospital for Indian wounded soldiers?

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People often assume that because of the Indian influence

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on the exterior of the Pavilion,

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which looks very much like an Indian Mughal palace,

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that this is why it was used for Indian patients.

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The real reason is a little bit more complicated.

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Britain was utterly dependent on those Indian troops

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fighting for its cause.

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And using the Pavilion as a hospital was really to show how well

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the Indian men were treated under British care.

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Looking at these people who are in the bed here,

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they are quite happy. I would feel very proud

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if my grandfather would have been in this room.

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While he was in Brighton,

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Manta Singh received the very best of care

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but it wasn't enough to save him from his injuries.

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Unfortunately, my grandfather died of the wounds

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and he died on the 20th of March, 1915.

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Manta Singh's sacrifice had an extraordinary legacy.

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The descendants of Captain Henderson have never forgotten his bravery.

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Hello, Jaimal. Hello, Ian.

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And later in the programme, we'll be reuniting the two grandsons.

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Wasn't too good before, was it?

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Every year, nearly half a million people visit the museum.

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Some of them are veterans,

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others are the children or grandchildren of veterans.

0:20:420:20:45

Here's a flavour of some of the people we've met today.

0:20:460:20:49

Well, it's the sense of history about the place, of course,

0:20:520:20:55

and all of my very happy memories.

0:20:550:20:57

It was a very happy station, Duxford.

0:20:570:20:59

This is where I was born.

0:21:030:21:04

I mean, where I live now in Australia, well, you know,

0:21:040:21:08

coming back to a place where I was actually born is really good.

0:21:080:21:12

Yeah, really sort of a bit nostalgic, really.

0:21:120:21:15

It's just so interesting. There's so much going on here

0:21:180:21:21

and every time you come up here, there's always something different.

0:21:210:21:24

There's things here that I read about when I was in school

0:21:240:21:27

and that I thought I'd never get a chance to see

0:21:270:21:29

and here they're all in one place.

0:21:290:21:31

Really came along just to show my grandson

0:21:310:21:34

some of the old aircraft.

0:21:340:21:35

Just let him have a...

0:21:350:21:37

Spike in his interest in maybe aviation - I don't know.

0:21:370:21:40

It's quite nice - I like looking at the old planes

0:21:400:21:42

and so far he's liked it as well.

0:21:420:21:44

Now, I will explain why I'm dressed like this in a moment,

0:21:490:21:52

but this area full of old military vehicles is tucked away

0:21:520:21:55

in a corner here at the museum and a man who knows all about it

0:21:550:21:59

is Vic, who joins me now. Just tell us what actually happens here.

0:21:590:22:03

Well, the volunteers here at Duxford,

0:22:030:22:05

we renovate many vehicles for the museum,

0:22:050:22:08

for ourselves and for other museums, too.

0:22:080:22:10

And this one, for example - this was part of Gulf War I, wasn't it?

0:22:100:22:14

Yes, it was. It's a Centurion operated by the Royal Engineers

0:22:140:22:18

and that was in Gulf War I

0:22:180:22:20

and actually pulled down Saddam's portrait in that war.

0:22:200:22:25

And you've got one over there I can see through...

0:22:250:22:27

By the tree over there with Russian writing on it.

0:22:270:22:29

Yeah, that's a T-34 from the Second World War.

0:22:290:22:31

One of the most famous tanks

0:22:310:22:33

used by the Russians during the Second World War.

0:22:330:22:35

And how many have you got here in total?

0:22:350:22:37

In total, we have about 63 here.

0:22:370:22:39

So people come here, they come and work on these -

0:22:390:22:41

help you restore them?

0:22:410:22:42

That's right, they work on them and then hopefully we show them

0:22:420:22:45

and make use of them or put them in the museum as an exhibit.

0:22:450:22:48

Right, and it's not just about restoring them, is it?

0:22:480:22:50

Because the reason you've dressed me like this is because...?

0:22:500:22:53

We actually do armoured personnel vehicle rides and drives

0:22:530:22:58

and we thought you'd like to have a drive in one of our

0:22:580:23:00

armoured personnel carriers. I'm driving? You certainly are.

0:23:000:23:04

That one with Andy standing in it? That one over there with Andy.

0:23:040:23:07

Who's driving - me or him? Definitely be you.

0:23:070:23:09

Ah, he's just going to be telling me where to go. Are you up for it?

0:23:090:23:11

I'm definitely up for that. I might ignore him. Come on, then.

0:23:110:23:14

That's your seat in there. Are you ready for this? Yeah.

0:23:180:23:20

Straight, straight, straight.

0:23:230:23:25

So, it doesn't really matter what I do, it's all going to be your fault.

0:23:310:23:34

Up that mount? Yeah.

0:23:350:23:37

OK, where am I going? You're going left.

0:23:370:23:39

Literally pulling one lever to go left, one to go right,

0:23:390:23:42

putting your foot on the gas.

0:23:420:23:44

MUSIC DROWNS SPEECH

0:23:470:23:50

Whoo! Go on, power on. Power, put the power on, get the power on.

0:23:510:23:54

Keep the power on.

0:23:560:23:59

And prepare to stop, slow down, slow down, slow down and stop there.

0:24:030:24:07

Are the newest tanks as noisy as this?

0:24:090:24:11

They're noisier, to be honest. Really? Yeah, yeah.

0:24:110:24:13

They're not covert vehicles, these things. Fun? You have fun?

0:24:130:24:16

Great. Really good to drive. Well commanded. Very well driven.

0:24:160:24:21

Still to come on today's programme...

0:24:210:24:23

HE PLAYS Roses Of Picardy

0:24:230:24:26

..the world's only one handed concert pianist,

0:24:270:24:30

Nicholas McCarthy, plays a wartime classic.

0:24:300:24:33

And I'll be taking a peek inside a Field Marshal's caravan.

0:24:370:24:41

Now, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

0:24:470:24:53

In a moment, June will share some of her memories of that time

0:24:530:24:56

but first, some other familiar faces share their memories of VE Day.

0:24:560:25:01

I was ten when the war ended

0:25:060:25:08

and I had a huge wall chart

0:25:080:25:10

on the wall of our kitchen.

0:25:100:25:13

It was the only room downstairs, actually,

0:25:130:25:15

but the kitchen, we called it. And I used to chart the progress

0:25:150:25:18

of the Allied advance across Europe.

0:25:180:25:20

The BBC had a bulletin every day where they'd tell you exactly

0:25:200:25:23

what the movements were and when it started moving the right way,

0:25:230:25:26

I got very obsessed by that so I'd mark in red all the way along the...

0:25:260:25:30

Germans were black and we were red.

0:25:300:25:32

Michael Parkinson was at home in Yorkshire when he heard the news.

0:25:340:25:38

I remember on the day that war was ended,

0:25:380:25:42

I was really cross because they spoilt my game.

0:25:420:25:44

What was I going to do for the rest of my life, I thought.

0:25:460:25:49

This has been my obsession for all these years.

0:25:490:25:51

REPORTER: The great news ran through the land -

0:25:540:25:56

Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff,

0:25:560:25:58

Birmingham, London - the end of the German war.

0:25:580:26:01

Jilly Cooper was at home in Surrey.

0:26:040:26:06

My mother was bashing up some wisteria,

0:26:060:26:09

cos if you bash up stems,

0:26:090:26:11

it gets the water in and she was bashing up some stems of wisteria

0:26:110:26:14

and suddenly we heard on the wireless

0:26:140:26:17

the war was over.

0:26:170:26:19

And my mother said, "Pinch me. Pinch me that I know I'm awake."

0:26:190:26:24

And so I sort of gave her a little pinch and then she said...

0:26:240:26:27

Burst into floods of tears and she said...

0:26:290:26:32

I said, "What's the matter?"

0:26:320:26:33

I thought we must've lost the war or something. I was so worried.

0:26:330:26:36

Then she said, "No, we've won, we've won."

0:26:360:26:38

She wiped her eyes with her apron,

0:26:380:26:40

we ran into the street and everybody was cheering and yelling.

0:26:400:26:43

It was heaven. Absolute heaven.

0:26:430:26:44

In the East End of London,

0:26:470:26:49

Kenny Lynch was just finishing school for the day.

0:26:490:26:52

My sister was waiting at the gate for me

0:26:530:26:55

and I came out and she said,

0:26:550:26:57

"It's over. It's over. The war's over."

0:26:570:26:59

I came out of school and there were people cuddling each other

0:27:010:27:04

and jumping up and down. It was like they'd won a football match

0:27:040:27:06

or something - it was that kind of sort of atmosphere going on.

0:27:060:27:10

Obviously, the war ends - it's going to be fantastic, isn't it?

0:27:100:27:14

Everybody started loving each other for a little while.

0:27:140:27:17

Esther Rantzen was in the garden of her family home in Hertfordshire.

0:27:200:27:24

My grandmother was carrying around a radio,

0:27:250:27:29

a battery radio,

0:27:290:27:31

and she was carrying it round the garden...

0:27:310:27:34

SHE SIGHS

0:27:340:27:35

I can't imagine why I feel so emotional...

0:27:440:27:47

..but I think that what I remember was her joy.

0:27:490:27:52

It was extraordinary.

0:27:550:27:57

The wonderful news of peace.

0:27:590:28:01

Germany's surrender took most people by surprise.

0:28:060:28:10

So did the evening newsflash announcing that the next day

0:28:100:28:13

would be a public holiday to celebrate victory in Europe.

0:28:130:28:17

David Attenborough was living with his parents in Leicestershire.

0:28:200:28:25

My older brother Richard was in the RAF

0:28:250:28:29

as a rear gunner and a cameraman.

0:28:290:28:31

I was waiting to go up to Cambridge and so I was in the Home Guard.

0:28:320:28:36

I was Private whatever his name is in the Home Guard

0:28:370:28:40

with the muffler.

0:28:400:28:42

REPORTER: This was the British people's finest day -

0:28:440:28:46

the end of the German war.

0:28:460:28:48

I don't honestly remember suddenly crouching behind the radio

0:28:480:28:53

and listening to it, as we do in the documentaries.

0:28:530:28:56

No.

0:28:590:29:01

I can't recall that but we were... Certain great jubilation. Yeah.

0:29:010:29:06

And when it was declared to be May the 8th, that was great.

0:29:060:29:08

And May the 8th was also my 19th birthday.

0:29:090:29:12

Well, some wonderful memories of VE Day there.

0:29:210:29:24

What do you remember of VE Day?

0:29:240:29:26

Not very much, really.

0:29:260:29:28

It was a private party

0:29:280:29:30

because I was up in Scotland, in Ardentinny,

0:29:300:29:33

at the ledge of Loch Long.

0:29:330:29:36

There was a submarine base up at the top,

0:29:360:29:38

and we had parties on the landing craft tank.

0:29:380:29:42

I would say I was drinking pink gin at the time -

0:29:420:29:45

it was a naval drink.

0:29:450:29:47

I think it's gin and Angostura bitters

0:29:470:29:49

and we had fireworks and the lights were on

0:29:490:29:53

but they weren't great lights

0:29:530:29:54

cos there was only Dunoon down here and Greenock and Gourock over there

0:29:540:29:58

and mountains behind us

0:29:580:30:00

so it was just a little, quiet celebration,

0:30:000:30:03

nothing to do with London.

0:30:030:30:05

And you were in Scotland. You had joined the Wrens.

0:30:050:30:08

When did you join the Wrens?

0:30:080:30:10

When I was 18, I would've been called up,

0:30:100:30:13

but at 17?, I could choose my service

0:30:130:30:16

and I didn't want to go into the Waaf or the Ats, you know,

0:30:160:30:20

because their uniform wouldn't have suited me complexion

0:30:200:30:23

so I decided that I'd like to go into the Wrens.

0:30:230:30:27

I was a cinema operator.

0:30:270:30:29

I used to show films, training films, to the sailors

0:30:290:30:32

and I used to roll them their ticklers while they...

0:30:320:30:35

Their ticklers were their roll-up cigarettes.

0:30:350:30:38

I'd have their tins and I'd roll them cigarettes

0:30:380:30:40

and pass them through.

0:30:400:30:41

And what about the spirit during World War II?

0:30:410:30:44

What are your memories of that?

0:30:440:30:46

Oh, well, it was quite incredible. It was.

0:30:460:30:48

People knock it now

0:30:480:30:50

but it isn't true that people were all terrified - it really isn't.

0:30:500:30:55

And it is true that we thought we would win because of Churchill.

0:30:550:31:00

He was so positive. He didn't think we'd win himself -

0:31:000:31:04

there was a lot of misgivings there, I believe -

0:31:040:31:07

but as far as we were concerned we'd do this,

0:31:070:31:10

we'd fight on the beaches, we'll fight... And they would have done.

0:31:100:31:13

And my uncle was in the Home Guard and it wasn't like Dad's Army.

0:31:130:31:18

You know, they were trained, these young men.

0:31:180:31:21

A lot of them were youngish men.

0:31:210:31:24

But your overriding memory

0:31:240:31:25

isn't one of people being terrified, as you say?

0:31:250:31:28

No, but maybe I lived in a part of the country

0:31:280:31:32

where I didn't suffer so much.

0:31:320:31:34

We didn't suffer so much.

0:31:340:31:36

You know, we didn't...

0:31:360:31:37

One of my great aunts had her house bombed in the East End

0:31:370:31:41

and came down and lived with Grandma, you know,

0:31:410:31:43

who'd left the East End a long time ago.

0:31:430:31:46

She didn't seem particularly perturbed about it.

0:31:460:31:49

Maybe she was - I don't know.

0:31:490:31:52

Well, June, wonderful.

0:31:520:31:53

Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us.

0:31:530:31:56

Now, this museum site is vast and it spans a mile.

0:31:560:32:00

Andy is exploring another corner of it.

0:32:000:32:04

I'm in the Land Warfare section and many of the exhibits here

0:32:040:32:08

have an incredible history, including these caravans.

0:32:080:32:12

They belonged to Field Marshal Montgomery,

0:32:120:32:15

one of THE most celebrated commanders in the Second World War.

0:32:150:32:19

I'm joined by curator John Delaney.

0:32:190:32:21

John, thank you very much for letting me wander round.

0:32:210:32:24

Now, these things are incredible and as an ex-soldier,

0:32:240:32:28

I had no idea that the battle in North Africa was commanded

0:32:280:32:31

effectively from a trio of caravans.

0:32:310:32:34

That's correct, yes.

0:32:340:32:35

The three caravans in question were collected by Monty along the way.

0:32:350:32:38

When he arrived in North Africa, he acquired the office caravan,

0:32:380:32:41

which was captured from an Italian general... Right.

0:32:410:32:44

..and then at the end of the North African campaign

0:32:440:32:46

he got a second one

0:32:460:32:47

and then prior to the D-Day operation,

0:32:470:32:50

he actually asked for a third one to be built specifically

0:32:500:32:53

for his map collection. Ah, right, so these weren't just North Africa -

0:32:530:32:56

they were across the whole of Europe? That's correct.

0:32:560:32:58

All the way from North Africa before El-Alamein,

0:32:580:33:01

through to Luneburg Heath in Germany at the end of the war.

0:33:010:33:03

OK, so what did he actually use each caravan for?

0:33:030:33:06

Well, the caravan directly behind us was his office caravan,

0:33:060:33:09

which he used for sort of almost meditating on

0:33:090:33:11

what his next move would be on the battlefield.

0:33:110:33:14

And then behind us is his map caravan,

0:33:140:33:16

which he used to plot the course of the army's progress on

0:33:160:33:19

and then further away, behind the one behind us,

0:33:190:33:21

is his bedroom caravan which he used to live in, his living quarters.

0:33:210:33:24

He had an actual bedroom -

0:33:240:33:25

his bedroom just for him and no-one else?

0:33:250:33:27

That was his bedroom, for him and no-one else.

0:33:270:33:29

He said he would only turn out of it for two people

0:33:290:33:31

and that was the King and Winston Churchill.

0:33:310:33:33

And did he ever have to do that?

0:33:330:33:35

Yes, both King and Winston Churchill visited him.

0:33:350:33:37

The King in north-west Europe and there is

0:33:370:33:39

contemporary photography of him and the king in the caravan together.

0:33:390:33:42

Now, I noticed in one of the caravans

0:33:420:33:44

there was a portrait of Rommel, the German commander.

0:33:440:33:47

Why did he have a portrait of Rommel?

0:33:470:33:49

Well, in the office caravan, which he used sort of as

0:33:490:33:52

a meditation area when he was sort of figuring out what

0:33:520:33:54

he was going to do next, when he was writing his orders,

0:33:540:33:57

he would put portrait images of the enemy commanders

0:33:570:34:00

he was facing at that point in time up on the wall

0:34:000:34:02

and sit and look at them

0:34:020:34:04

and contemplate what his opposition was like

0:34:040:34:07

and what their moves were going to be on the battlefield.

0:34:070:34:09

He said he felt it helped him come up with battlefield solutions.

0:34:090:34:13

And these aren't reconstructions, you know,

0:34:130:34:15

these are the original caravans that he worked from,

0:34:150:34:19

the King and Winston Churchill visited,

0:34:190:34:21

and they are as they were in the war? That's right.

0:34:210:34:23

At the end of the war they were gifted to Monty

0:34:230:34:25

by sort of a grateful nation and he kept them in a barn at his house

0:34:250:34:29

and they were kept exactly as they were on the last day of the war.

0:34:290:34:33

Everything inside is sort of a time capsule of that last day.

0:34:330:34:36

In the office caravan, for example,

0:34:360:34:38

there's a drawer full of medal ribbons that he would hand out

0:34:380:34:41

to the troops and even in one of the drawers in there, as well,

0:34:410:34:43

there is a set of his underwear.

0:34:430:34:45

Well, John, it's fascinating to see these things,

0:34:450:34:47

which I didn't even know existed, to be honest.

0:34:470:34:49

Thank you very much for showing us round. Thank you.

0:34:490:34:52

Earlier in the programme, we heard the story

0:35:000:35:02

of the incredibly brave Sikh soldier Manta Singh,

0:35:020:35:05

who died saving the life of his English commander.

0:35:050:35:08

Well, 100 years later,

0:35:080:35:10

a very special relationship has come from that sacrifice.

0:35:100:35:14

A century ago, Manta Singh was brought to Britain for treatment

0:35:190:35:22

after he was injured saving the life of a young English captain.

0:35:220:35:26

He died in Brighton and his grandson Jaimal has come here to remember him.

0:35:280:35:33

When my grandfather was cremated,

0:35:350:35:37

his ashes were scattered according to our religion

0:35:370:35:42

along the coast in Brighton.

0:35:420:35:45

Manta Singh was one of nearly 75,000 Indian soldiers

0:35:470:35:51

who died fighting for Britain in the First World War.

0:35:510:35:55

In 1921, on this windswept hillside,

0:35:550:35:58

a memorial was unveiled by the Prince of Wales

0:35:580:36:01

to honour all those who had fallen.

0:36:010:36:03

It is called Chattri, which means "umbrella" in Punjabi.

0:36:030:36:07

Under the umbrella, these people who are cremated here

0:36:130:36:17

are supposed to be protected by God.

0:36:170:36:19

Jaimal is here to pay his respects.

0:36:190:36:22

We feel very proud what our grandfather did for Britain.

0:36:230:36:27

And he was cremated at this very spot.

0:36:270:36:31

We are so happy that when we come here our children,

0:36:310:36:37

great-grandchildren, all Manta Singh's relatives

0:36:370:36:41

come and pay their homage.

0:36:410:36:43

Although Manta Singh died, Captain Henderson's life was saved -

0:36:450:36:49

and his descendants have never forgotten it.

0:36:490:36:52

His grandson Ian has come to meet Jaimal today.

0:36:520:36:55

Hello, Jaimal. Hello, Ian! Very nice to see you again.

0:36:570:37:00

The memorial is a place of pilgrimage for both families,

0:37:000:37:03

where they come to remember Manta Singh and his extraordinary legacy.

0:37:030:37:08

"Manta Singh. Subadar."

0:37:100:37:12

"15th Ludhiana Sikhs." Yeah.

0:37:120:37:16

But for your grandfather,

0:37:160:37:19

my grandfather would also have been buried somewhere. True.

0:37:190:37:23

And my father would never have been born and nor would I,

0:37:230:37:27

cos my father wasn't born until 1916 and so I would never be here,

0:37:270:37:31

nor would my family. True.

0:37:310:37:33

So we owe a great deal to the Johal family.

0:37:330:37:35

The connection between the two families has lasted 100 years.

0:37:370:37:41

Not only did their grandfathers fight together -

0:37:410:37:44

so, too, did their fathers.

0:37:440:37:46

My father and Jaimal's father became very close,

0:37:480:37:51

cos they were both commissioned into the battalion.

0:37:510:37:53

And they fought together in very difficult situations

0:37:530:37:56

and in retirement they both enjoyed reminiscing very happily

0:37:560:38:00

for many hours.

0:38:000:38:02

And like their fathers,

0:38:020:38:03

they are equally happy to catch up and reminisce.

0:38:030:38:06

My grandfather there, isn't it? Yes. Yes.

0:38:060:38:09

I think that's him. Which is your father?

0:38:090:38:11

There's my father with the colours. He's there in the corner.

0:38:110:38:15

And there's... And that's your... ..Dad there. There we are.

0:38:150:38:19

I'm delighted to see Jaimal today

0:38:200:38:23

and it's very nice that two years ago,

0:38:230:38:25

my daughter was at Chattri with three of my grandchildren

0:38:250:38:29

and the other side, there were five of the Johal family,

0:38:290:38:34

a further generation down.

0:38:340:38:36

The bond forged in war between these two men

0:38:360:38:40

may well last another 100 years.

0:38:400:38:42

It really is the case that so many of us wouldn't be here today

0:38:450:38:48

if it weren't for the courage and sacrifice of those men

0:38:480:38:51

who fought in the trenches.

0:38:510:38:53

With us now is Nicholas McCarthy.

0:38:530:38:56

You are the world's only one-handed concert pianist.

0:38:560:39:01

Now, you began at the age of 14. How did that come about?

0:39:010:39:04

It's quite a title, isn't it, that?

0:39:040:39:06

Well, I actually wanted to be a chef, which...

0:39:060:39:08

I don't know why I was drawn to these dexterous jobs

0:39:080:39:10

with only one hand but here I am today.

0:39:100:39:12

Yes, I am the only one-handed concert pianist

0:39:120:39:15

and I started at the age of 14.

0:39:150:39:17

I found a friend of mine who was an amazing pianist,

0:39:170:39:20

who played a Beethoven sonata, and I just had one of those moments

0:39:200:39:23

where I just thought, "That's what I want to do.

0:39:230:39:26

"I want to become a concert pianist."

0:39:260:39:28

Not thinking about the fact that I only have one hand but, yeah.

0:39:280:39:30

But how do you play? I mean, is the music specially adapted for you?

0:39:300:39:34

A lot of the stuff I play is actually original material

0:39:340:39:36

from the 19th century onwards,

0:39:360:39:38

which is written just for the left hand alone,

0:39:380:39:40

which is quite a tradition in itself,

0:39:400:39:42

but recently I've been moving into adapting pieces

0:39:420:39:45

and arranging pieces for the left hand alone.

0:39:450:39:48

And you've got a particular passion for music that was written

0:39:480:39:51

or composed around the World War I period.

0:39:510:39:53

That's right. Without a certain man called Paul Wittgenstein...

0:39:530:39:57

He was a concert pianist and he actually went into battle

0:39:570:40:00

and very quickly lost his right arm in battle, as so many did,

0:40:000:40:04

and he returned and he was very, very... You know,

0:40:040:40:09

he was so gallant and very, very determined

0:40:090:40:11

to continue his career of becoming a concert pianist.

0:40:110:40:14

So, he decided to use his wealth - he's from quite a wealthy family -

0:40:140:40:17

and he decided to commission

0:40:170:40:19

all of the celebrity composers of the day,

0:40:190:40:21

so Ravel and Prokofiev and Benjamin Britten...

0:40:210:40:24

He paid them vast amounts of money to write left-hand-alone concertos

0:40:240:40:27

for him and what he also did was he would arrange

0:40:270:40:31

well-known two-handed pieces but arrange them for left hand alone

0:40:310:40:34

in order to keep up his solo concert career.

0:40:340:40:37

So, he's a very steely, determined man.

0:40:370:40:39

What are you going to play for us now?

0:40:390:40:41

Well, I've done one of my own arrangements of Roses Of Picardy,

0:40:410:40:43

which was a huge hit in the First World War.

0:40:430:40:46

Everyone, both in battle and on the home front, absolutely loved

0:40:460:40:49

this piece and it grossed, I think, 100,000 or something.

0:40:490:40:53

It was a real massive, massive hit

0:40:530:40:55

and I wanted to arrange this piece for left hand alone

0:40:550:40:58

as a tribute to that era.

0:40:580:41:00

Well, can't wait to hear it. We'll leave it to you. Thank you.

0:41:000:41:03

HE PLAYS Roses Of Picardy

0:41:080:41:11

The incredible Nicholas McCarthy.

0:43:040:43:06

Well, that is it for today's programme.

0:43:060:43:08

June, it's been wonderful having you here. Thank you.

0:43:080:43:10

Oh, it's been lovely being here. I really mean it, you know,

0:43:100:43:13

to see all these enormous planes.

0:43:130:43:15

You know, I walked under a Vulcan

0:43:150:43:18

and I thought I was wandering under a tin roof

0:43:180:43:21

and it was its tail!

0:43:210:43:22

I mean, how do they get up in the air? You really do ask yourself.

0:43:220:43:25

They're incredible, incredible to see.

0:43:250:43:28

Well, coming up on tomorrow's programme...

0:43:280:43:31

But for this business, I've got to say I'm out.

0:43:310:43:34

..Duncan Bannatyne, formerly of the Dragons' Den,

0:43:340:43:37

tells us about his father's service in the Far East.

0:43:370:43:40

We meet the Bomber Command veteran

0:43:420:43:44

heading back into a Lancaster for the first time

0:43:440:43:47

since the Second World War.

0:43:470:43:48

When the engines started and we started taxiing

0:43:490:43:52

and bumpity, bumpity bump

0:43:520:43:54

and after 70 years, it's almost like a dream.

0:43:540:43:58

And a soldier shares his story about the new battle he faced

0:43:580:44:02

when he came back from war.

0:44:020:44:04

It was just trying to give yourself a reason, I guess, to carry on,

0:44:050:44:11

I suppose, and want to carry on.

0:44:110:44:12

From all of us here at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, goodbye.

0:44:140:44:17

Goodbye.

0:44:170:44:19

EastEnders actress June Brown shares her wartime memories, from being an evacuee to seeing Coventry go up in flames after German raids.

We hear from a man whose life was saved by an act of great courage from his sister who sheltered him from a bomb attack on a London school. Presenter Andy Torbet explores some of the exhibits at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, including General Montgomery's office in a caravan.

There is also the moving story of an Indian soldier who saved the life of his British commanding officer and a stirring performance of a wartime classic by the world's only one-handed concert pianist Nicholas McCarthy.


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