|photo courtesy of Richard Armitage Central Gallery|
Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) has always had a special significance for me. My father was a veteran of World War II in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). It was something he never really talked about, as it is with most veterans. The only war stories I ever heard were the more pleasant memories and those were usually told by old comrades who came to visit.
Talking Old Soldiers / Elton John
|WWII Recruiting poster by Ted Harris|
The movie is based on the true story of the crew of the B-17 Bomber named Memphis Belle which was profiled by Life Magazine for being the first crew to complete their tour of duty safely after enduring 25 bombing runs. The film tells the story of their last run, and in the following scene you will see Billy Zane as the bombardier who has just made the decision not to drop the bombs as the target is obscured by clouds. Although low on fuel, the pilot (Matthew Modine) decides to take another run over the target.
Memphis Belle (1990)
Although the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force crews flew Lancaster bombers, everything else about this movie seemed to be exactly as I might have imagined it (from the little I had heard or read). I never did get to share that movie with my father, which is probably just as well, because even though there are lighter moments in the movie, the drama can get very intense. I thought it did a good job of showing some of the moral struggles in the split decisions that had to be made in the midst of battle. I had heard of crews that been returning from bombing runs with their bombs still intact. They had to drop their load over the Channel before returning to England or risk an explosive landing.
A wartime casualty resulting from this practice is rumoured to have been the famous American band leader Glen Miller, whose plane disappeared over the English Channel after leaving France on Dec. 15, 1944. Here is a tribute to him which includes the beautiful song Moonlight Serenade.
In a modern war story Strike Back episode 1, based on Chris Ryan's book of the same title, John Porter, played by Richard Armitage, makes a moral decision to save the life of a young, would-be suicide bomber by defusing the bomb. It is a heroic act that is later thought to have dire consequences for his future career in the British army. The story is artfully portrayed using the poet-turned songwriter Leonard Cohen's magnificent "Hallelujah", sung by Allison Crowe.
Hallelujah / by Bccmee