Bells are ringing…

23May18

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There were plenty of excuses NOT to come to see us in Engine Brake at Salisbury Playhouse last Saturday afternoon, (19th May.) The much-touted ‘Making of the Mayor’ parade was bringing the sun-drenched Wiltshire streets to life with its celebrations; whilst footie fans were busy clearing the mart-shelves of Carling in readiness for the Cup Final. Meanwhile, down the Thames Valley the fairytale nuptials of the sometime-reluctant Royal – Prince Hal – and his American-born actress bride Meghan Markle, were pulling at the Nation’s fickle heartstrings whilst earning a tidy bob or two for the UK tourism industry. Some of the coolest-staged, and genuinely heartfelt looking photos emerged from the House of Windsor that day. By way of comparison….

Back in Brum with my mind bent on the Fred Jeffs Project, I finally find something that has been eluding me for months. The above picture.

It is 70 years old, and shows Fred Jeffs and Betty Marshall on their wedding day, 1948. The best man is my grandad, Doug Rose – Fred’s elder, half-brother – and a maid of honour whose name I have not yet found, perhaps Betty’s sister?.

Betty herself looks happy and radiant; my grandad looks joyful; Fred looks… frankly, a little stiff, uncomfortable.

Barely three years before this photo was taken the two brothers, Doug and Fred, were occupying dorm space in Stalag VII, near Munich, to where they were likely marched from their respective POW Camps in Poland. My grandad, captured in Crete 1941, wound up in BAB21 (Auschwitz-Bleckammer). His younger brother Fred, captured at Dunkirk 1940 at the age of 21, ended up in Posen (Poznan) Stalag XXI-D. They return to Civvy-street with hopes of a return to ‘normality’ in a ‘land-fit-for-heroes’. They also, very likely, opted to keep ‘schtumm’ about the horrors that they had witnessed in the theatre of war, in the POW Camps and on the west-bound Death Marches out of Poland prior to liberation by the Allies.

 

 

 

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