Sunday, September 23, 2007

social life

Hello gentlemen, I am back with a new aspect to explore:
In-between battles, did you have time for any social life?
We have been told of the cinemas and of the entertainers that
came to 'visit', what else can you add to the picture?
All of you young men must have wanted to have fun
whenever possible - if only to keep your minds off the
war. Please tell more about it!

9 Comments:

Blogger Ron Goldstein said...

Hi again Catherine !

You will be pleased to hear that this Blog has alresdy pontificated on this subject !
Look to your right, scroll down to August 2006 and under the title "Garrison Duties" there are 17 entries.
To give you a taster I've copied one of the enries here:

Gents
You really musn't get me started on these memories and yes...I know I've already told this story on the BBC WW2 Archives but I couldn't resist telling it again..so there!

It concerns a young Lt.Whitfield.

The campaign in Sicily had been sucessfully concluded and we were waiting for our next move, the invasion of Italy.

Someone at Regimental level had decided that the Batteries should put on their own concert parties to 'entertain the troops' and young Lt.Whitfield had drawn the short straw, he was now 84 Battery Entertainments Officer.

In a moment of madness I had volunteered to play on a battered 'joanna' and other fools had likewise offered to sing, tell jokes or tell monologues but all this was not enough for Lt.Whitfield who obviously considered that this was his moment for show business glory.

“What we are going to do” he proudly told us ('us' being his not over-enthusiastic band of volunteers and pressed men) “is to finish the first half of the show with every one on stage singing “Come landlord fill the flowing bowl until it doth run over”.

“The clever part” he confidently continued “is that whilst this is all going on, we will have other chaps coming down the aisles dishing out mugs of vino, which I will organise”.

Came the night, the show went like a dream and we duly sang ‘Come landlord fill the flowing bowl’ as though we meant it.

Bang on cue, the mugs of vino were brought down the aisles to rapturous applause.

One slight hitch… the vino was in such quantities that we never got to start the second half of the show but dear Lt.Whitfield has gone down into Army folk lore history,mine anyway!

Ron

Sunday, 23 September, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Catherine =
welcome back - sure we had cinema's - we saw "Mutiny of the Bounty" - seven times... "Shadow of a Doubt" with Joseph Cotton - Teresa Wright - four times - once in English when the denouement newspaper article was not shown - then again when it was shown - but in French - then again in Italian...the fourth time the projector broke down - so I still don't know what it was all about !

WE arranged a sunday afternoon dance for the whole village of Strassburg in Austria as we were fed up with badly danced Polka's and Viennese waltzes, so we thought we would give them an exhibition a la Hammersmith Palais.
This dumbfounded the villagers - ALL of them - then we served food at the interval - big mistake - the food disappeared as did ALL of the dancers !

We had a marvellous concert by Beniamino Gigli and his daughter played the accompaniment on the piano - a demo of Table Tennis by Richard Brooks and another Richard - both Champions - but the most memorable was a concert by a well known singer ??? and her pianist Jimmy Brown - she sat on the bedside of one chap who had lost both legs and sung - "You'd be so nice to come home to "...

That was a three kleenex job !

Monday, 24 September, 2007  
Blogger Catherine L said...

Sorry Ron, for not being able to look in the right places once again! And thanks for the tip. I had such a giggle over it all, too - so now, the booze, the music, the dancing, the shy girls... wonder what's left to add? The not-so-shy maybe?

Tomcann - Shadow of a Doubt is a terrific movie - I saw it a few times, having become a Hitchcock fan over the years - you should have seen the ned bit, gory - an unusual denouement.
Surely skipping it was deliberate to spare your frayed nerves!

Monday, 24 September, 2007  
Blogger Catherine L said...

I meant the END bit, of course!

Monday, 24 September, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Catherine - know what you mean except meeting the 'not so shy girls' personally never met any but I would refer to the 1st Canadian Divs "take' on Lady Astors epithet regarding us out there -
"The Moro and Ortona were taken in our stride,
we didn't really fight there,we went there for the ride,
Sleeping till noon and playing games,
We live in Rome with lots of Dames,
WE are the D Day Dodgers,in sunny Ialy.

WE are the D Day Dodgers, way out in Italy,
We're always tight, we cannot fight,
What bloody use are we ?

If you look around the Mountains and through the mud and rain,
You'll see the rows of crosses,some which bear no name,
Heartbreak and toil and suffering gone,
The boys beneath, they slumber on,
They were some of the D Day Dodgers,who'll stay in Italy "

WE could only laugh at the good lady !
Incidently there was no fraternisation ban in Italy so everything was up to the individual - and his conscience !

Monday, 24 September, 2007  
Blogger Frank mee said...

Catherine,
You forget a couple of things, men who are now settled down with a bus load of grandchildren are not going to be open about that subject.
Then we have Leslie Thomas writing the Virgin Soldiers in the 1950's, it was set in Malaya where men were fighting and dying at the time. My bet is quite a few did die virgins.
Those were the days when there was no morning after pill or any kind of pill. If things went too far and the girl became pregnant a shotgun wedding took place, you do not argue with a shot gun.
Whilst we were on the troopship we were lectured daily on the horrors that befell a squaddie who even looked at a local woman, apart from the fact the local men would have stewed your cojones with the sheep's eye broth.
We lost men who I would bet never knew a woman in the biblical sense. All those freedoms came in the sixties way too late for men of our age.
You cannot look back using your own experiences on those times, it was all so very different.

Tuesday, 25 September, 2007  
Blogger Catherine L said...

Frank, what you wrote made me both smile and cry (or almost). I understand what you mean. However, I never asked for you to reveal your private lives in that matter. Thank you for reminding us all that my generation was very fortunate to grow up in a more relaxed atmosphere - from all points of view.

By the way have you seen the movie 'Mrs Henderson Presents"? - it deals very delicately with the aspect you developed.

I wish to share a memory with you:
Back in the mid-sixties, the US Navy used to stop in Cannes and always asked the English-speaking locals to organize events for the sailors, the officers, I should say.
Well we had all sorts of parties, they were held under the (supposedly) strict supervision of the matrons at the Anglo-American hospital there (it was called 'Sunny Bank') - but let me tell you: the guests were always ready to come back and we all had a great time (and I never lost an opportunity to improve my English in those days!)

Then de Gaulle decided that the US Navy was no longer welcome in the Med - so the only options left were to cross the ocean ourselves or write letters!

Wednesday, 26 September, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Many of the top entertainers of WW2 were right out there with some of our "boys" (one or two of them already having added their piece to your question). Regarding the Allied lads "fraternising" with the local population while in Europe I know several involved in the Nort West Europe Campaign (1944 - 1945) who were given warnings against it. One gentleman told me about a Scots fellow who said, "Fraternisation? We want tae blae their ***** heads off!" (pardon the expression in polite company). Tom and his mates down in Sunny Italy were similarly not too polite in singing about out dear Lady Astor (I think he quoted a rather mild version of the song here!).

My 'knowledge' insofar as I have any at all, is based on personal research and listening to others.

Wednesday, 26 September, 2007  
Blogger Frank mee said...

Sorry Catherine to sound a bit prim and proper, of course it was not all sand scorpions and female Camels.
I first met the American Navy off Port Said they came ashore to play football cricket (that was a laugh) and base ball. We got invited back to an alien world indeed.
Everything was so relaxed and yet professional, the food was beyond belief and ice cream dispensers in some of the corridors got well used.
We then got the job of rounding them up from some of the less salubrious parts of Port Said and getting them safely back on board their ships. I do not know who paid for the damage but they left some very angry Egyptians behind.
We got leave in Port Said at the WVS run leave camps there.
They held some nightly dances where the local girls could come in, they were mainly Greek and Italians.
The girls would have one or even two chaperone's to make sure there was no messing about.
I was well into dancing and danced with the WVS ladies, nice motherly women who could all dance well.
As I sat down after one dance this lady with a moustache came marching over and said in some what mangled English "you dance with my daughter next dance" err right, I did not fancy a fist fight with her.
So next dance I walked over asked the young lady to dance she was all shy and demure until we got into the crowd and away from mothers eye, then it was fight for your life until we were back in view.
I decided once was enough and went back to the motherly ones, I did not fancy a knife in the back from an irate mother.
That is how it was then, all females were ladies and we treat them as such out of habit, it had been bred into us.
Cyprus where I was sent next was a far different story. The girls knew that marrying an English soldier got them away from a life of drudgery or so they thought.
I believe they thought we all lived in Castles, our pay was on a par with a civvy tradesman o we must have appeared rich to them.
Our Sergeant said just look at their mothers, they will look like that in ten years time. That was enough for most of us though some fell for it.

Wednesday, 26 September, 2007  

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