The presence of Gurkhas in Hunstanton last Friday reminded me of a close encounter of the Gurkha kind during World War Two.
My brother Paul was eight years my senior, so I was always flattered to be included in his adventures, regardless of the fact that he never carried out a ‘risk assessment’ before allowing me to tag along.
I was only seven when the war ended, so I must have been quite young when he persuaded me to climb from the beach to the lighthouse via a large cliff fall, on which a scaffolding ladder had been erected. Paul made it clear that I was in no danger as he would catch me if I slipped.
On reaching the cliff top I was confronted by an unsmiling Gurkha guard. It was only then that I remembered someone telling me about the fearsome knife they carried into battle, called a Kukri. Sure enough, there was one on his belt.
I did not hang around long enough to test the theory that if a Kukri is taken out of its sheath, the Gurkha is supposed to draw blood before replacing it! Paul was probably asked to explain why he had ignored the notice to “Keep Off”, but he soon caught up with me. Once I had accepted a small bribe, it was agreed that our parents should not be informed of our escapade!
In case anyone in authority is wondering if I might still be open to offers for keeping quiet about much more serious errors of judgement, let me just say: “No Way!”
This prompts me to mention the exchange of emails between the Local Highway Authority and Heacham Parish Council, which has reached an uneasy stalemate; with the council and many local residents feeling very annoyed by the intransigent position adopted by the Highways Authority. Now we hope our concerns about road safety prove to be unfounded.
Meanwhile back to WWII – which remains the setting for many fascinating television dramas.
In spite of the hardships it caused the civilian population in this country, there appears to be a lingering affection for the war and its immediate aftermath.
One of the positives for my family was the absence of visitors, which meant our mother was able to spend more time with her three children in the summer holidays, than would have been the case if she had a houseful of paying guests to look after.
My father’s wartime occupation was driving a NAAFI lorry to RAF and army camps all over Norfolk, delivering cakes and pastries made at the bakery situated on the corner of Church Street and Westgate.
He was also in the real ‘Dad’s Army’ before becoming a part-time fireman.
He was photographed with his contemporaries, outside the imposing Town Hall.
The photograph from the Heritage Centre archives reminds me of Dad’s Army for another reason, because seated on the left of the picture is the spitting image of Sergeant Wilson!
If only Hunstanton had retained more of its Victorian and Edwardian character, especially our very own Jolly Roger Pier, Walmington-on-Sea might have been created here instead of Thetford.
And we cannot blame German bombs for destroying the Victorian pier and some of our finest buildings – we managed that all by ourselves!