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I’ve just finished reading Remember Me, No. 110 (Hyderabad) Squadron, Royal Air Force. by Sara V. Mosher. The book is beautifully produced, from the striking cover, the many photos, to the meticuously researched notes and appendix. But it’s the undercurrent of love and respect – not just between a daughter and her father – but between two generations, that gives the book its soul. The book isn’t just about the author’s father. The book is about a squadron of young men. It’s about youth, it’s about dying, and it’s about old men who remember. The title is perfect.
Once upon a time, - back in the sixties and early seventies of the last century, in a far away place – out in the western suburbs of Winnipeg, some children were playing, learning and growing. What I’m trying to say is that Sara and I have been friends since way back. Then we grew up, moved away and rarely saw each other.
Back to this current century. Unknown to each other, while I was busy trying to figure out my mother’s life, Sara started to research her own family’s past. We both had fathers who were in the air force (albeit different teams). Both fathers ended up living quiet lives in the suburbs, raising their children, worlds away from what were the tumultuous, life-changing years of war.
My reactions to the book? First of all, how very sad. So many young men died. Sara gives them names and faces and events. Boys with smiling faces. Dead.
My second reaction is awe. I’m impressed with detailed names of places, of planes, of dates. For anyone with an interest in World War II – whether because of family, or because of the military, this book provides exact details. There are no sweeping generalizations here. No blame, no verdicts. Just real people in unreal situations. The amount of research is amazing.
My own father’s war experiences disappeared into forgotten memory when he died. Sara has grasped her father’s military experiences and put them into a compelling narrative.
My favorite chapters were near the end where Constance Pitts and Kenny Mosher become a couple and thus, the future parents of my friend. Here, the author’s wry sense of humour sneaks out. The warm feeling that the large Mosher family still shares, is also evident.
Well done, my friend. I recommend this book to anyone connected to WWII.
Excerpt from the opening paragraph of Chapter 16, page 101:
“A clothes peg drops suddenly from her mouth as she tightens her grip on the other wooden peg that clips the freshly washed pillow case to the line. Her eyes are fixed on the sky as she stares at the German airship flying its customary scheduled route from Germany to New Jersey, passing over Apple River. It flies low and slowly. Mrs. Larsen feels sure the Germans are mapping the countryside. No one trusts Hitler. Even so, later that summer when a neighbor with a battery operated radio shouts anxiously across the field to Mrs. Larsen, "We're at war again with Germany," the news is met with disbelief."