Coming of Age in Wartime
I have been lucky enough to have been given access to a number of artefacts belonging to a cousin dating from World War 2.
25 years after he returned home, his eldest son enlisted in the NZ Airforce to serve his country during World War 2.
Ron kept a diary through 1944 and 1945, albeit sporadically. In it, he has entries for his two birthdays on 11 July, 1944 and again in 1945.
The 1944 entry reads: "Birthday! 20 years old today. Caught the afternoon train to Calgary [at the time he was a trainee pilot in Canada] and went to the evening show at the Stampede. [Long?] show most of it - very good. 200 Capstan from the Dept today Good show!"
The 1945 entry is succinct: "Birthday!! Small party in the mess"
Ron was the same as his father had been at enlistment - just 20 when beginning his military service. There is something terribly sad about both entries; they hint at a degree of isolation for one so young; and recall the terrible waste of lives not yet lived by war on this scale.
Both George and Ron were fortunate to return from their wars, and both lived long and worthwhile lives.