Face On A Boat

Kicked out of bed,  dad’s voice gruff but warm, he spoke in terms of needs,  his eyes of love .”Duty, chores and routine: all came first. Emotions were somehow  managed in between.”  Saying that he was a loving dad. In the manner if  seldom in the words,

Staggering, the boy rose up and washed , brushed his teeth and sort of made his bed. His mum was in the kitchen making tea. “What’s up Dad” he asked, still half asleep. “Got to cross the channel. some men are stuck in France”.

“Blimy” he said, “Beats  going out for shrimps “.  Ask more questions : What’s the point?  His Dad would tell him more when time was right.. He drank his tea  and prepared to leave the house.   Gave his mum a kiss and then a hug. “Take care out there”,she said,  and pressed some fresh made sandwiches in his hand. Mum and dad hugged,  They left her at the door.

The docks were crowded with faces  he recognised, and naval  types bossing them about. “Whats going on” he asked a passing friend. “The Army lads are stuck. We’ve got to get them out” so off they went.

The rest is history.Not all got home.  Exploding shells; the men in Khaki scrambling aboard.  The off-key jokes to keep their fears at bay, The calm sea  or else they would have sunk. The journey’s made, more than he could count. Then off to war, he joined the navy then. The convoy duties, the tension and routine. Meeting Maggie and going all soft inside.

Time had put some memories to bed . His dad was gone; sailed off on his voyage with mum, as always, lying by his side.  The new young loved their music now it seemed, and few paused to glance at history. Still that was life until this moment. Now tucked in a boat, wrapped up against the cold, ninety years old, but “keeping things afloat”  His son and grandkids managing his life, had somehow got him in on this event. The Dunkirk boats in convoy down the Thames. His dad’s old craft shining as if new. “Who’d have thought it”, he smiled and shook his head,

Thats when I saw him. Me standing on the bank as wooden vessels eased out of the lock. Some old guy with medals on his chest, on a chair and blankets on his legs. I saw the smile,  shy and unassumed. Baffled by the fuss but gladdened too. Those youngsters he saw,  normally so loud, where standing clapping as his boat went through.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, childhood, creative writing, Life, life2, old age, soldiers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Face On A Boat

  1. Al says:

    I was moved by this, ducks. I only wish I had been standing there with you. We must never forget what a momentous event that was, showered with doubt and bravery beyond our imaginings.

    I remember the Dunkirk scene in the movie “Atonement.” I believe it is the longest moving “single shot” scene ever filmed. Certainly worth another look.


  2. Deana says:

    very moving. Well done.


  3. Barbara says:

    It is so important to honor them. My father-in-law went down in the Pacific, traveled all over the world during WWII in the ferrying command. Good luck prying any of his adventures out of him. He just doesn’t want to talk about it.
    Great story Peter! Great message too.


  4. nelle says:

    Such an astounding save of so many, and no amount of recognition can do justice to what unfolded then. That you try, priceless.


  5. I only wish that people who sacrifice so much today for their families, neighbors, countries, and world could know the appreciation felt by heroes of that era of which you write. I don’t know if the recognition of others makes the losses worthwhile, but the pride in knowing that your country and fellow citizens honor you (rather than marginalize you) must be some comfort.

    Very moving piece, Peter.


  6. b e a u t i f u l.

    Mr. Liverpool’s father was on the death walk? Dunkirk? He was shot by a German Soldier, but survived.



    • Wow. Thats amazing. I’m glad he survived. I am always impressed by the stoicism and acceptance shown by verterans of any conflict. It makes a stron contrast to those who run around screaming because they have lost the butter !


  7. Beautifully told and excellent tribute!


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