Turnstone, by John Maiden, Tuesday, June 21

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether memories from early childhood are based on personal experience of events, or on hearing stories from older relatives who definitely witnessed those events.

I am fairly certain that when it comes to the damage caused by German bombs, which fell within a stone’s throw of our family home in Westgate, my memory is 
reliable, because I can recall seeing the whole gable end 
of the house diagonally 
opposite reduced to a pile of rubble.

On the other hand, I only know that I survived unscathed, because my parents informed me, more than once over the following years, that they had removed me from my bed under the window minutes before it was showered with broken glass.

This is by no means the only memory I have of World War Two, because in addition to seeing scaffolding and barbed wire on Hunstanton beach, I knew my uncle could not get to his beach hut at Old Hunstanton because of a minefield. Compared with what was happening elsewhere in this country and all over the world, these were minor inconveniences. As a boy I actually preferred the presence of soldiers in my home town to the seasonal influx of visitors. Collecting cap badges and shrapnel was a popular pastime, especially for my older brother.

Even before starting school in 1943 I was aware of an influx of much younger wartime outsiders, known as evacuees. I even remember a boy called Cornelius, all the way from Rotterdam in Holland who was staying at the Roman Catholic presbytery, but coming to our house for some of his meals. My hatred of war probably stems from this first-hand experience, together with later revelations of atrocities perpetrated on civilians as well as military personnel.

Today we are told that the current refugee crisis is the worst since the aftermath of WWII; a time when the whole of Europe was also faced with the cost of rebuilding entire cities and restoring essential services.

After listening to the arguments being advanced by those who think now would be a good time to break away from the European Union, I have come to the opposite conclusion. Having lived at a time when this country went to war because Germany invaded Poland, it gives me great pleasure to see teams from both countries competing on a football pitch in France, hoping to make progress in the European Championships. A goalless draw was a fair result, because on the balance of play and unlike 1939, neither side deserved to lose!

Unfortunately, a small minority of so-called England fans and a similar proportion of their far-right Russian counterparts, obviously forgot the fact that their respective countries were on the same side in WWII and brought disgrace on themselves and the beautiful game by their reckless and violent behaviour.

The very real threat to innocent civilians posed by so-called Islamic State makes this kind of mindless hooliganism all the more unacceptable. Yet another mass shooting in the USA, coupled with the violent death of a Member of Parliament in this country, provides even more reason for working together with our neighbours at home and abroad to defeat violent extremists.