Monday, April 11, 2011

"Our Olympics" by Harold Drake, R.A.

Medals and trophies were different for the 'Wartime Olympics'

At the annual buffet dinner dance of the West Cumbria branch of the Normandy Veterans Association in November 2000 one of the members, Mr Harold Drake, R.A. of Egremont, Cumbria read out a few thoughts he had written down after watching the Sydney Olympics a couple of months earlier.

Although Harold has since passed away, I have a copy given to me by Harold which is transcribed here. It is an insight into a life experienced by someone who served in the Forces during WW2.

To read Harold's story click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

"Our Olympics" by Harold Drake, R.A.

"Our Olympics were very different from the recent Games in Australia. In September we all witnessed how the Olympics dominated our televisions. The athletes taking part had trained for four years, eating the best of steaks and selected foods. Most had individual trainers, physiotherapists, masseurs and, if they pulled a muscle, counselling for depression.

The athletes trained for the high jump, long jump and 100 yard sprint and much more. If they were successful in their event and won a gold medal, when they returned home they were showered with confetti and could make a million pounds from spin-offs for winning a medal. That is now! They relentlessly had a dream to win and I take nothing away from them.

Then there was our 'Olympics'. Sitting in this room tonight are people who trained for six years on horse meat, tinned pork, 'veg. macedoine' and 'bully beef'. Their high jump was a shell exploding behind them. Their long jump was a slit trench quarter full of water. The 100 yard sprint was over open ground with helmet, full pack and a rifle - and many did not reach the finishing line.

Our confetti was air burst shells showering shrapnel. We also relentlessly had a dream … and that dream was to return home alive. At the end of our Olympics we were presented with up to three gold medals (or at least they looked like gold!) and also up to four silver medals (or at least they looked like silver!). We did not receive any counselling.

We were rewarded, but our reward could not be banked, spent over a counter or on holidays, because it was in the form of bond. And that bond was one of brotherhood, comradeship and friendship which is so strong that its memory and warmth persists - even over 60 years later.

Written for an Army Veterans Reunion in Millennium Year".

Monday, 11 April, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

To read a story I posted to the BBC “People’s War” website about Harold Drake (including a couple of photographs):
click here

Monday, 11 April, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A few personal comments:

The trophy seen in the photograph is one of mine. Any medals and trophies I may have won for sport may have been hard won. Yet, they were evidently not as hard to win as the medals Harold gained during the war and which he always wore with pride.

It is surely far better to have friendly sporting competitions involving young men and women of all nations rather than them laying down their lives in a World War. Long may the Olympics continue to help peaceful co-operation and respect between the people of all nations.

Monday, 11 April, 2011  

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