History documentary series. Sophie Raworth and Andy Torbet present highlights from a week of remembrance programmes.
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Hello from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.
Throughout Remembrance Week, we've been at this former RAF base,
celebrating courage, honouring heroes
and remembering those who did and didn't return home.
Here are the highlights from a week of The People Remember.
We'll have some special moments from our celebrity guests,
as they tell us the role their families played during the war.
That means a huge amount to my family. Thank you.
Well, you've succeeded in getting
a huge lump in my throat. LAUGHTER
We'll hear from veterans whose war efforts
changed the course of history.
I hope I shall feel all right,
and I've got to climb up on there.
I think I can manage that.
And on Remembrance Sunday,
we honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It's important... Yeah.
..that the sacrifice is remembered of all the fallen.
Welcome to this very special edition of The People Remember.
All week, we've been based here at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford -
home to thousands of exhibits from all periods of warfare.
We've been hearing incredible stories of bravery
and courage from veterans, civilians and family members.
So let's look back at some of the most memorable moments.
We start with the story of one of the few remaining Spitfire girls.
The freedom of being up there in the air, you know?
The wide open spaces and seeing the ground from the air.
You never took it for granted.
You were thrilled at every time.
During the war, Joy Lofthouse was one of just 168 female pilots
who helped to keep our overstretched fighter squadrons going
by ferrying planes across the country.
Other women, certainly, were envious of our job,
because all women were doing something during the war,
and there we were, flying aeroplanes,
and they paid us for it, too.
We were doing, I should think, just about the most exciting job
that there was to be done by women in the war.
I flew a Barracuda, two Mustangs, an Oxford...
This book tells the story of Joy's remarkable time
as a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary.
That was quite a good month.
Joy flew 18 different types of aircraft on hundreds of missions.
She's now 92 but her flying started when she was just 18.
I saw a news item to say that ATA had run out of qualified pilots,
and were training people with no experience at all,
and I thought that sounded better than working in a bank.
I'd never even been in an aeroplane,
and I didn't even drive a car,
so I learned to fly before I could drive.
As war raged across Europe,
the pressure to have fighter planes ready at the airfields grew rapidly,
and pilots were in great demand.
The delivery of new aircraft from factories to operational centres
is the responsibility of a vast organisation known as
the Air Transport Auxiliary,
with men of 14 different nationalities in its ranks,
and also helping in this important work are several women.
You never knew from one day to the next where you were going.
They would hand out the little bits of paper we called chitties,
and then that was the exciting bit.
"Where are you going? What are you flying?" You know?
And they knew, of course,
that we were all trying to fly as many types as possible.
There was one plane that was at the very top of any ATA girl's list.
Of course, I remember the first day I ever flew a Spitfire,
because that was the culmination of our training,
and of course, it was quite the fastest thing you'd ever flown,
but my big worry, the first time I flew it,
was whether I'd lose the airfield.
You're so busy looking at the cockpit,
and then you shut the hood,
and you're miles away by then,
because she's going so fast.
Joy also has a fondness for a more humble aeroplane -
one that started the flying careers of so many pilots.
One of the first aircraft I ferried was a Tiger Moth,
because we were barely through our training,
and they suddenly had a whole gaggle of Tiger Moths to fly down to Wales.
There, there was a little bit of banter, of course.
"See you there, Joy, if you get there," sort of business.
The ATA pilots often flew alone and with no navigation aids.
The dangers were high. 173 aircrew died.
I suppose we lost perhaps a dozen women.
Some of the accidents were weather.
Some were aircraft...
malfunction, you know?
But none of my close friends were killed, no.
Joy's flat in Gloucestershire is a treasure trove of memorabilia
from her flying days -
the centrepiece being her uniform,
still in pristine condition.
And the first time you wore it, of course, you were very proud.
We had two hats.
This is the...seems to be the only one that survived.
I don't know whether my head's got bigger,
but it will just about go on for me.
After the war, the ATA was disbanded,
and for most of these remarkable women,
life was never quite the same again.
I missed flying dreadfully when we first stopped.
I think I last flew in September 1945,
and I thought to myself,
"What am I going to do with the rest of my life?
"I'm never going to do anything as exciting as this again,"
and I was probably right.
For Joy, the years she spent as part of that unique service,
delivering planes to the front-line, will never leave her.
It was wonderful.
There you were, up in the sky, and no-one could talk to you.
Nobody could say, "Come back, you're going the wrong way."
I mean, it was such a wonderful job to be doing.
You couldn't really better it, could you?
And later in the programme,
we'll catch up with Joy, as she takes to the skies once again.
Across the week, we've shared memories with some familiar faces,
who came to tell us about their loved ones.
We had a special surprise for one of our guests -
Si King from the Hairy Bikers.
Now, your father... Yeah.
He died when you were, what, just eight years old? Yes.
But what he did during World War II has really had quite an influence
on you, on how you've turned out?
Oddly, it has. SOPHIE LAUGHS
Yes, Dad was on the Russian convoys, among...
among other sorties of war at sea,
but he was incredibly well travelled, obviously,
and he used to bring really odd ingredients
back from whichever port he was in,
and write them down about how he'd eaten them,
and how he'd, you know...
And he'd bring them home to Mam and bear in mind, Mam was...
Mam was a fantastic cook,
but she was a cook that facilitated miners' shifts.
You know? In a pit village, on the top of a County Durham hill.
So he'd bring stuff like star anise, and...
And I mean, that's in the late, you know, that's in the '40s. Nuts.
So, by the time I popped out, cos I was quite...
I was the youngest of three,
we had this amazing cuisine,
and all our neighbours kind of complaining that
what was coming out of my mam's kitchen was...
So, there was all this kind of...
So, yeah, no, Dad had an enormous influence.
And he was a biker of sorts, too, wasn't he? Well, he was, yeah,
because he was injured, sadly,
during the Russian convoys, and he was put on dispatch to
run between these land-based areas for the Royal Navy.
So, motor cyclist - loved food, by default.
So that's the legacy that he's left me. I'm pretty fond of him.
I didn't know him that well, but, you know, every now and then,
I'll go, "Thanks very much, Dad. You did us well, there."
Si, your dad was part of the Russian convoys, the Arctic convoys.
That was an incredibly gruelling and dangerous operation to be part of.
It was beyond comprehension.
You were under extreme pressure, because you had the wolfpacks,
the German wolfpacks, and submarines that you couldn't see... Yeah.
..so there was just this atmosphere of anxiety,
constantly, plus the cold.
Plus, not particularly that warm clothing.
And, you know, that takes a pretty special type of person, I think.
And it was, you know...
and thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to honour...
to honour all of those men, really, because I think about them a lot.
We'll be hearing plenty more about your father later on,
but first let's hear more about those Arctic convoys.
The convoys were a vital lifeline for our allies in Russia,
but the seamen involved had to contend with
weather conditions beyond our imagination,
and the ever-present risk of attack.
Facing powerful waves and freezing temperatures, the Arctic convoys to
Russia were described by Churchill as "the worst journey in the world".
The men who braved the deadly crossing experienced
some of the war's most horrific conditions.
This treacherous Arctic route claimed the lives of 3,000 men.
It was cold, hard and frightening,
but it had to be done, and we did it,
and I still pray, each day, for those who didn't make it.
93-year-old Austin Byrne was one of thousands of sailors who
endured the icy seas to take vital war supplies to Russia.
He was just 19 when he joined the Royal Navy to serve as a gunner,
protecting the merchant ship the SS Induna.
You were really chuffed, you know?
"I'm going to sea. I'm going to see the world." You know?
They were talking about going down to Africa to the sunshine,
and then we found we were going to the Arctic to the cold.
The weather was, oh, out of this world, horrendous.
You did four hours on watch, four hours off watch,
and in that four hours off watch,
you had to eat and sleep.
The ice was about four foot six thick.
But those harsh conditions were the least of their worries.
Every convoy was in danger of ambush by German planes
and packs of U-boats.
They were sinking merchant ships, like, you know,
knocking them off like toffees, sort of style.
You always worried.
Just a few days into Austin's journey to Russia,
his convoy was struck by a ferocious storm.
That storm was the worst storm I was in in the five years at sea.
The fierce weather split up the convoy, making Austin's ship
an easier target for German planes and U-boats.
After four days, his ship was hit by a torpedo.
and you know she's been hit,
and the stern goes on fire,
so I got out of the gun pit and went down onto the deck,
and the captain said, "Abandon ship."
He said, "Go to your lifeboat station now, boy,
"and good luck to you."
Many of the crew were killed in the strike.
Austin and a few others made it to a lifeboat.
The sea was all burning, where the tanks were busting,
and then all of a sudden, we were rowing,
and bang, another torpedo hit her,
and she just went...
Then the sea was calm,
and we all said, "Look, see if anybody comes up."
But nobody came up, and then it was a matter of - "Row."
We were in the lifeboat four days, three nights,
and you daren't go to sleep.
You dozed, and if he thought I was going off,
"Waken up, Titch."
And if I thought he was going off, I used to say,
"Don't go to sleep, Robbie."
Cos if you'd have gone to sleep, the cold would have got you.
They had limited food and water,
and Austin had to resort to desperate measures to stay alive.
So I peed in a little cup.
It tasted bloody horrible.
It looked like whisky, but it didn't taste like whisky.
After four days adrift in the Arctic waters,
a ship appeared between the ice.
Oh, that was the thrill of a lifetime,
and it came alongside, and they pointed,
"Hmm, you. Hmm, hmm..."
I was stood there, waving, you know, and shouting.
Of the 66 men on the SS Induna,
just 20 survived.
16 of them lost limbs to frostbite.
Austin was one of the lucky ones.
I made it through because I had very, very good clothing on,
and I kept my feet moving and everything moving.
It was good luck and prayers,
and determination to live.
Every year, on the anniversary of the sinking of his ship,
Austin heads out to his garden,
to remember those who never made it to shore.
Eternal rest, given unto their souls, oh, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
It brings back all the men that I knew,
and but for some wonderful sailors, I'd be dead,
and it's the least you can do is pray for them
and remember them each day.
Freedom is an expensive thing.
Si, "good luck, prayers and a determination to live".
That's what he said you needed. I mean,
incredible to think your father went through something like that.
It's made me quite emotional, that clip.
No, I'm very proud of my dad. Very proud of him.
I'm very proud of what he did and all the men.
They were an incredible breed.
And one of the real issues there was the cold was
almost as big a danger, if not a bigger danger... Yeah.
..than attack from the enemy.
I think that that was an overwhelming thing that Dad
used to talk about, was the cold.
You know, chipping frozen saltwater off the bulwark of the ship,
because if you didn't,
it would become too top-heavy and topple over.
I can't imagine that cold. No.
We have a bit of a surprise for you, actually.
In 2012, the Arctic Star was introduced -
a medal for those who had taken part in the Arctic convoys.
The first medals were awarded in 2013,
and Air Commodore Chris Bray is here, and he will explain why.
Very nice to meet you, sir. Nice to meet you, Si.
Well, Si, erm...
I'm here on behalf of the Ministry of Defence,
and the nation, to present you with the Arctic Star,
for your father's service on the Arctic convoys.
Thank you very, very much, indeed.
That means a huge amount to my family. Thank you.
Well, you've succeeded in getting a huge lump in my throat.
I told you...
Wow. Thank you very, very much, indeed. My pleasure.
That is an absolute... It was a long campaign, wasn't it?
The Battle of the Barents Sea was
a particular part of the Arctic convoy war,
if you like, the mini war,
and your father, Graham, was serving on HMS Sheffield...
Yes, he was, yes. ..during that battle,
and it was a very important battle,
because Russia was fighting the Germans at Stalingrad,
and it was very important that the particular convoy got through...
Yes. ..and that was the convoy that your father was on.
Sadly, your father's not... No.
Hasn't survived to be awarded the medal,
but I'm very grateful that, you know,
we can get you here today to award you the medal.
Only a few people now have that medal.
Well, I'm incredibly touched, and I know
my brother, my sister, and...
all of my family will be...
I can't. I'm lost for words, really. I'm incredibly touched.
Thank you so much, and this is a legacy I'll leave my sons...
..as my father did for me. Thank you.
There have been so many moments during the week which remind us all
of the courage and bravery of men and women on the battlefield,
and on the home front.
We still have many more memories to share with you.
Coming up - we hear Churchill's speech,
which inspired so many veterans.
This was their finest hour.
Former Spitfire girl Joy Lofthouse takes to the skies...
I don't think I'm going to do anything fancy.
..and a performance from The Three Belles.
During the 13-year conflict in Afghanistan,
the insurgents' weapon of choice was the IED -
the improvised explosive device.
This Husky vehicle was hit by one, and as you can see,
was badly damaged, but thankfully, no-one in it was injured.
But of course, many, many were,
and for wounded servicemen and women,
their injuries can be life-changing.
Here's Rick Clement's story.
Six years ago,
Rick Clement was a newly-promoted infantry sergeant
in the Duke of Lancaster Regiment.
I really felt that I'd achieved something,
to reach the senior rank,
and to have the responsibility of people's lives
when you were deploying operations,
is as big as a, kind of, privilege that you can be given.
Rick's first test of this responsibility was in Afghanistan,
and during his training,
the dangers ahead weighed on his mind.
There was a lot concentrated on amputations
and severe wounds, and how to treat them,
so straight away, through that,
you kind of got a very good idea that the chances are,
you might be doing that for real.
I suppose, you can't think that it'll happen to you,
or you wouldn't want to go anywhere.
In April 2010, Rick's platoon was sent to southern Afghanistan.
Seven weeks in, he was leading his team on a routine patrol.
Always conscious of hidden Taliban bombs,
he had to decide their best route.
We only needed to go about 10 to 15 metres along this path,
and it was still pretty close to our base,
so I felt it would be all right to go that way, really,
and that was... It was my decision on the day.
The two men ahead had checked the path for bombs,
but Rick put one foot wrong,
and triggered a hidden explosive device.
The only way I can describe it,
how it was to me at the time, was it was like a "puff",
and obviously, it wasn't -
it was a massive explosion -
but that's how it kind of sounded to me,
and then everything went just dark.
Rick's injuries were life-threatening,
and he was flown to the UK for treatment.
He'd lost both his legs and was in a coma.
After three weeks, he woke up
to face the full extent of his injuries.
He was told he might be wheelchair-bound for life.
I just felt, like, how was I going to deal with it all? How...
You know, was the rest of my life going to be...
where I've got to be looked after by somebody 24 hours a day?
To me, that isn't much of a life.
You know, erm...
It was just...
..trying to, trying to...
..give yourself a reason, I guess, to carry on, I suppose,
and want to carry on.
The darkest time of my life by a long, long stretch.
While Rick was at his lowest ebb,
one of his best friends was killed in Afghanistan.
This made him rethink his own situation.
I was just devastated. It broke my heart.
And it made me realise that I needed to appreciate
the fact that I am still there with my family.
The painful months of rehabilitation
started to take their toll on Rick's marriage.
Over the next year, we grew further and further apart
and it just became clear, really,
that we weren't right for each other. Erm...
And we had to kind of make the decision
where we were going to go our separate ways.
Rick had to adjust to life on his own - and in a wheelchair.
Even simple tasks, like laundry, were a struggle.
Back in the early days, I was dropping things quite a lot,
just because of my grip, really.
And I wasn't able to reach the floor.
And it's very frustrating when you need to get someone to pick them up.
One of the things that I did start to use,
litter pickers use on the streets
and it's just, obviously, got the grabber at the end.
Now, I don't really need it for picking things up off the floor.
You can see, even with a washing bag,
I'm pretty much reaching down to the floor now
and the strength in this arm allows me to do that.
And it's not really much more of a difficult task
than for anybody else now.
Despite adapting incredibly well,
Rick would love to walk again.
Today, he's at a rehabilitation centre in Preston
to practise on a robotic leg, which could change his life.
To walk again is an immense thing, if it can happen.
Doing things like looking someone in the eye
and stood at a bar or whatever it might be,
would be something, you know, really life-changing.
OK? Yeah. Do you want to have a walk?
It's taken Rick over six months of gruelling training
to get to this level of walking.
As you can see, I'm starting to sweat quite a bit.
Erm, it is hard work but, erm...
it feels pretty good, to be honest.
Now to the extraordinary story of a piece of music
which was composed on a scrap of paper in the trenches of World War I.
Historian Richard Van Emden has been investigating.
Soldiers in the trenches
had to cope with death, disease and destruction
almost every single day.
But there were moments of respite amid the carnage
and men sought out any comfort to distract them from the battlefield.
At the front-line, many soldiers craved a reminder from home.
Such a simple thing as music gave men the escape they needed
from the horrors of war.
I've come to the museum at the Royal Academy of Music,
to discover more about the importance of music
for soldiers in World War I.
Joanna Tapp is the exhibition curator.
So what role did music play at the front-line?
It served all sorts of purposes,
from instilling pride and patriotism
with sort of military bands and religious music,
to the more nostalgic reminders of home
and the sorts of music that soldiers would want to listen to
when they got some downtime
and were sitting around with their friends making music,
listening to records.
So we have here a gramophone.
Did they have these in the trenches? They did, indeed.
And it's called a trench gramophone because,
for the first time, during the First World War,
gramophones were made to be entirely portable
and you could pick it up and carry it from camp to camp
or from dugout to dugout.
I mean, it's a fantastic contraption and really gives that feeling of,
if you had that playing in a dugout, of a little bit of home.
That's right. That's one of the things that music can do.
It can transport you to somewhere else.
But one man in the trenches wasn't just listening to music,
he was scoring it.
Composer Harry Farrar
served in the Royal Field Artillery in northern France.
He survived the war and died aged 70.
After his death,
Harry's family discovered a diary he'd written on the front-line.
I'm meeting Harry's son John and grandson Nick to hear Harry's story.
So, John, did your father see much action?
Well, he must have done.
Because on 24 April he was at Villers-Bretonneux
and he's written, "Jerry came over. Fiercely exciting day.
"Saw Jerry advancing and fired point-blank.
"Machine-gun bullets flying all around us."
I think it was probably quite a pivotal point in the war,
because they pushed the Germans back. You're spot on.
Your father was part of a very, very significant battle.
The Germans were trying to push to take the strategic town of Amiens
and they were held up there
and that was the critical point of this battle. OK.
So during the fighting, did he lose any of his comrades?
Yes, there's an entry in here where he actually says
he loses three from one shell.
"Corporal Watts, Sanderson, Lancaster killed with one shell.
"Everyone felt pretty rotten."
"Everyone felt pretty rotten." It's so understated, isn't it?
I know. Yes, it is.
And I think that was the issue then,
because you were losing so many friends. There was death all around.
You couldn't dwell on it. No, no. No, you couldn't.
The diary didn't just reveal the horrors that Harry went through.
Hidden within it,
the Farrars came across a special piece of paper.
In the diary, we found this little piece of music,
which he's written while he was out in France.
So one could imagine him trying to take his mind off
what he's seen, what he's done.
I would imagine so.
He finds a bit of sheet music and starts composing.
Well, there's one entry here where he says he
"found a piano, a grand,
"and enjoyed myself up to the mark," he says.
So it could very well have been he played whatever he liked to play
and may have written this little piece of music at the same time.
Well, he must've had an incredible mind-set
to be able to block out all those horrors
and to concentrate on the better things in life.
Quite extraordinary, really. But he was a very talented musician.
No doubt about that.
And went on to make a good living out of it.
After the war, Harry had a successful career at De Wolfe music,
composing over 700 pieces for film and television, including this one.
But the piece of music Harry wrote almost 100 years ago
is being given a new lease of life.
And we've arranged a surprise for the Farrar family.
The score that your father wrote,
that we found in the rear of his diary,
has been put to an orchestral arrangement by De Wolfe
and you're going to hear it right now for the first time.
Oh, this is going to be amazing.
I'm sure we're going to enjoy it very, very much
and remember it a long, long time.
MELANCHOLIC ORCHESTRAL MUSIC
Oh, that was awesome. Very, very emotional.
Ah, thank you so much. Thank you very, very much.
You can see what effect that has had on me.
It's quite incredible.
It emphasises the power of music and what it can do to people.
And also, how fortunate we were that he survived.
Obviously, so many of his colleagues did fall
and their legacies will, hopefully,
live on with this piece of music, as well.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
In the summer of 1940,
with the imminent threat of attack from Germany,
Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined
we wouldn't be defeated.
He rallied the nation
with one of the most powerful weapons in his armoury - words.
On 18th June, Churchill delivered a speech
to galvanise the nation for the brutal battle ahead,
read today by veterans who took part in the war effort...
The Battle of Britain is about to begin.
Upon this battle
depends the survival of Christian civilisation.
Upon it depends our own British life,
the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire.
The whole fury and might of the enemy
must very soon be turned on us.
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island
or lose the war.
If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free...
And the life of the world may move forward into broad sunlit uplands.
But if we fail,
the whole world, including the United States,
including all that we have known and cared for...
Will sink into the abyss of a new dark age...
Made more sinister and perhaps more protracted
by the lights of perverted science.
Let us, therefore, brace ourselves that,
if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for 1,000 years...
Men will still say...
"This was their finest hour."
On 10th July, the Battle of Britain started.
Wave after wave of German bombers and fighter aircraft
launched attacks on Britain's air defences.
The RAF fighter pilots were outnumbered,
but they held firm.
After nearly four months of battle raging in the skies,
the Luftwaffe retreated,
wrecking Hitler's plans to invade Britain.
Churchill was deeply moved
by the bravery and sacrifice of the Air Force.
He delivered a speech at the height of the battle,
praising and encouraging the pilots in the epic struggle,
which turned the course of the war and of history.
The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire
and, indeed, throughout the world...
Except in the abodes of the guilty...
Goes out to the British airmen, who, undaunted by odds...
Unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger...
Are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and devotion.
Never, in the field of human conflict,
was so much owed by so many to so few.
And during the Battle of Britain,
Duxford's operations room would have been a hive of activity.
Andy is there now.
During the summer of 1940,
Duxford was home to five RAF squadrons.
As German fighters crossed from Europe,
our boys would scramble into their planes to meet them.
And the battles that ensued would be directed from places like this.
One of the ladies who worked in an operations room
during the Battle of Britain
is Sheree Lygo-Hackett.
Sheree, thank you very much for joining us.
Now, when was the last time you were in an operations room?
Well, it'll be about early 1943, it would be.
So, 72 years? Yes.
And what was your job? Well, I was a plotter. OK.
Can you show me what you used to do?
Well, they would send the number of the raids through,
which you've got all set up here.
You had the number of the raid
and you'd have the height
and the number of aircraft.
You would put a plot, either...
According to the clock. The ops room clock.
You changed them every five minutes.
By doing that, the controller would be able to get the aircraft
up in the sector where we were to intercept the enemy.
So you were monitoring where all the aircraft were?
You had to keep your wits about you,
because you would have this on
and you had to listen to the plots coming through.
And the sooner that you got them on the board,
the sooner the controller could act and get the kites airborne.
And what was it like when, you know, bombers were flying overhead?
In those days, you didn't allow yourself to be frightened.
You got on with it.
Generally, I think people didn't know
whether they were going to be alive the next hour.
Not just in the ops room, but generally with the public.
And I think that, yes, people were a bit afeared,
but we got on with it. You had to.
There was nothing else you could do.
So live life while you could.
Sheree, are you proud of the work you did during the war?
Yes, I am.
And I think all of us that were in the war are proud of what we did.
We were all cogs in a big wheel
and, if we hadn't all pulled together,
we'd never have made it through.
Sheree, thank you very much
for sharing your experiences with us today.
Across the week, we spoke to some of the thousands of visitors
who pour through the doors of the museum here.
And, as we found out,
this museum holds a special place in many people's hearts.
Duxford was where I spent probably, like many others,
the happiest time of our young lives.
I came here raw, young, naive
and I realised that there was much, much more that I could achieve.
It just changed my whole view on life. It was brilliant.
It was quite impressive how they just managed
to just get all of these planes into this one place.
This plane behind me is the one I flew a number of times
on the Berlin airlift.
We carried flour, coal, anything needed at the time.
It was hard work.
Today we've seen the Spitfire.
And that's been flying around.
And it's been pretty great to see,
because they've done it up, restored it
and it's looking pretty good in its glory.
I'm reminiscing my childhood in RAF Duxford.
We came here to live in 1946 and we really had a lovely childhood here.
Across the week, we heard from EastEnders actress June Brown,
former Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne
and broadcasters Angela Rippon and John Sergeant.
Here are their stories...
Now, your dad missed the first few years of your life
because of the war, didn't he? Oh, very much so, yes.
My father was a Royal Marine and he had a very busy war,
as his sort of rack of medals shows!
I was spotting that on the sofa there.
He was a bit busy during the war,
because he was in Italy and Africa twice
and the Pacific, the North Atlantic,
he was on the Malta convoys.
So he was all over the place and he didn't actually get back...
I was born in 1944 and he didn't come back to England
until the beginning of 1948, when I was three and a half.
And when I met him for the first time...
I have a wonderful photograph of me meeting him on board the ship
when he came back to his home port in Plymouth
and I've got a face on me like a plate of sour milk because,
of course, I'd been brought up by my mother and my granny and my aunt
and I'd never seen this man before.
But he was very much the hero of my life
as, I'm sure, an awful lot of young children at that time felt,
you know, when I got to know him better.
And I always say that my dad spent the rest of his life
making up for the fact that he hadn't been around
until I was three years old and he'd missed all those baby years.
Did it really affect your relationship with him? Very much so.
I became very, very close to my dad and I always feel that he...
My mother couldn't have any more children after me, unfortunately,
and I think my father, being a very macho Royal Marine,
would have loved to have had a son.
Instead, he got me. He wanted me, obviously, to be a young lady.
But at the same time, I always feel that he helped instil in me
all of those qualities of sort of self-reliance
and courage and determination.
All of the things that he would've wanted, as a man,
to pass on to his son.
And I think they probably stood me quite well,
as you will appreciate, in the job that we do!
Now, Duncan, your dad worked on the Thai-Burma Railway,
which was notoriously known as the "Death Railway". Yeah.
That must have been a horrendous experience.
Yeah, it must have been terrible.
So many people died there.
You know, it was just difficult. I think surviving was what they did.
It was the only thing they could do, either survive or die.
The most extensive conversation I had with him
was after my sister's funeral.
And he started to tell me about how
one of the jobs he had in a prisoner-of-war camp,
before he became really thin,
was to put the bodies on the fire.
They'd have a fire once a month and they'd burn the bodies.
It was really upsetting for him to talk about that.
So I think the reason a lot of prisoners of war don't talk about it
is because it's so upsetting for them to do so.
He got moved around a lot, didn't he? He did, yes.
For some reason he was taken to, I think it's called Formosa,
and taken to Japan, to a prisoner-of-war camp there
and just spent the rest of his war years there.
I've got a couple of documents I don't think you've seen yet.
So let's have a look at one of these.
This is his liberation questionnaire.
So this is what he filled in on liberation.
And you can see there... I'm sure you can recognise his handwriting,
it's his own writing there, I think.
Is that your dad's handwriting? I would think it is, yes.
It's very similar to mine. And you can see here...
So it lists the camps...
Kuala Lumpur. There, Kuala Lumpur.
And then Thailand. And the dates he was taken there. Yeah.
The date that he was first captured, actually.
26th February, '42.
And then his regiment, as well,
I think you know, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Right, there's Formosa. And then Japan. Formosa, Japan.
Wow, three different camp leaders. Yeah.
And then we also have this. There you are.
This is his prisoner-of-war index card, filled in by the Japanese.
There is his name, William Bannatyne. Yeah.
Date of birth, which they got wrong to begin with.
And then, obviously, his address and everything.
And then this is really interesting. We had this translated here.
So his occupation...
And he lists as a farmer.
Did he? That's what it says.
Was he ever a farmer before the war? Not to my knowledge!
Maybe he did that for a reason? Yes, maybe he did?
Maybe there was a rumour if you say you're a farmer
you get out in the fields or something?
And the address there, is that an address you recognise? Yes.
Yes, Kilbowie Road, Clydebank.
Absolutely, yeah. Yeah.
I think that was the pub!
It's amazing, though, isn't it, to see these documents from the past?
Yeah, it is.
One of my favourite exhibits here at Duxford is this,
the Lancaster bomber. John Sergeant is still here.
And I know you're fascinated by these incredibly majestic planes.
They are. Kids nowadays talk about things being awesome,
but that really is awesome, isn't it?
And what's amazing is that, when I was a child looking at these things,
you didn't associate it with death and destruction.
You just looked at the plane and you thought, "This is just so..."
Well, it's so cool, isn't it? It's just so beautifully designed.
And to think this big thing would go up into the air
carrying all these people.
It was just in a very simple way, can a plane do that?
And can they do it with such, sort of, fortitude
and with all the ack-ack guns going off around them?
And this thing is flying through the night.
I just thought then and I think now, awesome.
But they must have been incredibly frightening for the crew on board.
They were. And, you know, a lot of them, of course, would be killed.
And a lot of them couldn't communicate very well
because there's the rear gunner.
So there are seven in all.
Then there's the gunner here in the middle position.
But they're very vulnerable below here.
So you've got the navigator.
You've got various people there. But there's not much contact.
Tell us about your war years. Where were you during the war?
Well, I wasn't a brave warmonger, as they say.
I lived in a backwater, really.
I lived in East Anglia
and, at the time, we were 12 miles from the sea.
So I didn't have to go through all the bombing
that the people in London did and in the big cities.
Well, you say that, June,
but you actually came under fire a few times, didn't you?
You saw some action.
Well, in a strange sort of way, yes.
I was waiting for a trolley bus, I think I must have been about 15,
halfway down the hill that I lived in.
And I looked up to see if it was coming round the corner
and I saw a German fighter coming down the road, machine-gunning.
Well, fortunately for me,
there was a little cobbler shop attached to a residential house
right by the trolley bus stop and it had a lot of steps
and I ran up the steps
and flattened myself against the door.
Because I didn't go in. I wasn't a customer.
And then, when it had gone,
I just came down and waited at the bus stop again.
One of the most costly campaigns of recent times
has been the conflict in Afghanistan.
Today, on Remembrance Sunday,
we remember the story of one soldier, Jamie Webb.
A guided tour around an army patrol base in Helmand Province.
Lance Corporal Jamie Webb recorded this video
to show his family back home what life was like in Afghanistan.
Jamie's cheerfulness in adversity
shone through in the letters he sent home.
"Dear Mum and Dad and Luke..." - smiley face.
"Hope you are well and OK.
"I received some airmail today with some letters.
"It's quite a hot area.
"That means where helicopters can't land,
"because they have been targeted by Taliban.
"Just counting the days until I'm home again.
"Mum, Dad and Luke, I love you all so much.
"Love from Custard Cream Jamie."
To tell the story of Jamie - he was brave.
He was more than my brother.
He was my best friend.
And he was more than my best friend. He was my hero.
Always a very jolly person.
A lovely young man.
He was lovely.
He was a loving son to me and Sue.
I'm very proud of Jamie.
Jamie joined the Army when he was 18.
He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I worried about him all the time.
And when I spoke to him on the phone,
I'd ask him how he was or what he was doing and then, you know,
sometimes he couldn't tell you and he'd say, you know,
"The base has been attacked."
And then he'd say, "Not long until I'm home now, Luke."
On his second tour in three years,
the British withdrawal from Afghanistan was gaining pace.
Jamie rang his family to tell them he would soon be heading home.
He was on a high. Really happy.
To think it's over.
You know, the tour, like.
But later that day, there was a knock at the door.
Sue came upstairs and said, "There's a man at the door in a suit.
"He wants to see you."
And he came in and he explained about
that Jamie had been in a major incident.
And I said to him, "You'd better check his number,
"because I just spoke to him this morning."
So I said, "There's no way it could be my son. No way."
He said that there was an insurgent attack on the base...
..and that a truck had been driven through the wall
with explosives in and chemicals
and it had gone through the wall and it had blown it up.
I couldn't stand the thought of not being with him.
I wanted to know someone was with him when he died.
That's what it was.
He's never been without me.
Anything... When he was poorly when he was little,
I was always there.
And that was the hardest thing, not saying goodbye.
And we miss him terribly.
A British soldier has been killed by insurgents in Afghanistan.
Jamie's body was flown home to Cheshire.
The people of Handforth lined the streets in his honour.
There was loads.
It was covered, all that side, all the other side of the street.
And all the children were in a line throwing roses on the coffin.
It was just full.
That was so much respect for my son.
Jamie's name was recorded on the Bastion Wall,
a memorial standing in the Army's main base in Afghanistan.
It's since been dismantled and recreated in Staffordshire.
His family are going to see it.
For me to go...
..it's hard, but good.
Such a lovely man.
Oh, there's the wall, look.
Jamie's name will be one of 453
being rededicated on the new Bastion Wall,
a replica of the one which stood in Afghanistan.
It will join 300 other memorials in the Arboretum.
It's the first time Jamie's family have seen his name on it.
To look at a wall that Jamie would have once seen
in Afghanistan, in Camp Bastion...
Yeah, he must have walked past it.
And now it's over here in the National Arboretum.
And he used to pay his respects to them all,
because he lost lots of them, of his friends.
He wouldn't think he'd be added with them.
Forces families are joined at the rededication ceremony
by the Prime Minister and Prince Harry,
who himself saw action in Afghanistan.
THE NATION ANTHEM PLAYS
This memorial reflects the spirit of the old one,
containing, as it does, the original brass plaques,
a large piece of the original stonework,
the original cross
and the last Union flag to fly over the memorial in Camp Bastion.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.
We will remember them.
THE LAST POST PLAYS
I'd like to thank all the people that have made this happen.
Yeah. It means a lot.
You know, to help keep the fallen's memory alive for ever.
Because it means a lot. And it means a lot for the soldiers, as well.
Yeah. Because of their friends, comrades.
They were together through thick and thin over there.
Brothers in arms for ever.
Well, earlier, we heard the amazing story of Joy Lofthouse,
who flew 18 different types of planes during the Second World War.
Joy never lost her passion for flying.
And what better way to celebrate the wonderful work she did
than by reuniting her with one of her favourite planes?
Today is a chance for Joy to turn back the clock.
More than 70 years after she learned to fly,
she's taking to the skies once again.
Well, it's a long time since I've been in a Tiger Moth.
So part of me is looking forward to it
and part of me is wondering how I will feel in the wide open spaces.
But I'm very much looking forward to it,
taking me back to my very, very early days of training.
Tiger Moths were the main training planes for ATA pilots.
With an open cockpit and simple controls,
they were the ideal plane to perfect flying skills.
Today, Joy will fly in this one
at White Waltham Airfield in Berkshire,
her old training ground.
It's so long since I flew in an open-cockpit aeroplane.
I hope I shall feel all right!
And I've got to climb up on there. I think I can manage that.
Flying with Joy, another woman of the sky,
instructor Amanda Harrison.
Hello. Oh, it's a lady pilot!
I'm your pilot today. I hadn't realised that.
I have to say, I've wanted to fly an ATA lady... Have you?
So this is a huge privilege for me. I'm glad about that.
After we've done the three circuits... Yeah.
..we're then going to fly out and I'm going to hand it over to you
and say, "You have control."
Well, not for long!
How's that? That's OK.
Not since the 1940s has Joy done this.
And there's no stopping her now.
Right, here we go. It all gets quite noisy.
Well, now, I'm not allowed to say what her landing was like.
I'm sure it was better than anything I could have done!
I'd better say it was eight out of eight, shall I?
It was a great experience to be back in a Tiger Moth, yes.
I wouldn't like to do it day after day after day at my age.
But the experience of being back in an open-cockpit aeroplane
that I flew during the war...
Everybody wants to be reminded of when they were young.
And flying today does that for me,
reminds me of when I was young.
Well, that's about it from this special programme
for Remembrance Sunday.
But there's just time to show you
one of our favourite performances from the week.
# He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way
# He had a boogie style that no-one else could play
# He was the top man at his craft
# But then his number came up and he was gone with the draft
# He's in the Army now, a-blowin' reveille
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B
# They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam
# It really brought him down because he couldn't jam
# The captain seemed to understand
# Because the next day the cap went out and drafted a band
# And now the company jumps when he plays reveille
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B
# A-toot, a-toot, a-toot-diddelyada-toot
# He blows it eight to the bar in boogie rhythm
# He can't blow a note unless the bass and guitar is playin' with him
# He makes the company jump when he plays reveille
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B
# He was some boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B
# And when he plays boogie-woogie bugle he is busy as a buzzy bee
# And when he plays he makes the company jump eight to the bar
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B
# Toot toot toot-diddelyada Toot-diddelyada, toot-toot
# He blows it eight to the bar
# He can't blow a note if the bass and guitar isn't with him
# And the company jumps when he plays reveille
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B... #
# He puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night
# And wakes 'em up the same way in the early bright
# They clap their hands and stamp their feet
# Because they know how he plays when someone gives him a beat
# He really shakes it up when he plays reveille
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B
# Dat-da da-do-do da-dup
# And the company jumps when he plays reveille
# He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B. #
Thank you for joining us on this day of reflection.
From all of us here at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, goodbye.
On Remembrance Sunday, Sophie Raworth and Andy Torbet present highlights from a week of programmes from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire. The series includes stories of courage and sacrifice from both the battlefield and the home front. Special guests include 'Hairy Biker' Si King, former Dragon's Den businessman Duncan Bannatyne and broadcaster Angela Rippon, who recall the role their parents played in the Second World War. Plus there's a feature on former 'Spitfire Girl' Joy Lofthouse as she takes to the skies once again at the age of 92, and a rousing performance of a wartime classic from The Three Belles.