I decided to read this book around remembrance Sunday. It’s the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and I wanted to read something that I felt she would have empathised with. Now my grandmother grew up in a castle in Belgium so her start in life was very different to that of Harry Leslie Smith but she firmly agreed with him that the war they fought was not meant to save the country they were now living in. they fought so people would have a brighter tomorrow and to be able to enjoy their freedom, they did not fight to see a return to the times of the great depression.
My grandmother grew up in Belgium and lived through the Nazi occupation where she joined the resistance. She then met a Brit and moved to London and began a new life. When she left Belgium her father told her ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ or in other words ‘assimilate’. She took those words to heart and really became a proud British citizen who loved her new homeland.
She raised my mother and later me to be proud to come from England and Belgium. However in later years she felt a lot had gone wrong, she felt it was a darker sadder time than in her youth and she felt that somewhere along the line things had gone wrong and that change needed to occur.
Reading Harry’s last stand I could just imagine her nodding along. Here is a man who lived through the depression and world war two and who was willing to fight to protect his country. He managed to get himself out of poverty by joining the RAF and met the love of his life and has for the most part lived a happy and fulfilled life. Now he is angry and disappointed and wonders why he bothered. He wonders whether it was worth it and why the world we live in seems to be intent on blaming the poor for all the miseries people face.
He makes valid and well reasoned points to back up his argument. It’s well worth a read to really see what is happening in the UK and what could possibly be done to change it. If nothing else he’s become an iconic figure and it was fascinating to read about a lifespan that has spanned nearly a century.