My Brother Gordon
My big brother, arms out, me with a shy smile biting my lip and of course trying to pull my dress down to hide my enormous navy knickers.
The Passing Out Parade
Here’s another memory to make me smile, and to celebrate the life of my brother who has just passed on.
My brother Gordon was 18 years older than me, so I never remember him being at home, but I do remember when he went into the Manchester Regiment to do his National Service.
My memory is one of the passing out parade.
Of course, Mam, Dad, my brother David, and I, all went to the Ladysmith Barracks in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, to welcome him back. He had been in Singapore and Malaysia. Mum could walk then, and I remember her very smart hat and long full coat. The soldiers were all lined up in very straight lines. I wondered how they got them so straight, and then I saw how they did it: hands on their neighbours’ shoulders, a shuffling of feet and bingo! – straight as a dye. There was a lot of shouting by a man at the front, some saluting, and then a huge shout: “Parade……. Dismiss” and sure enough the straight lines collapsed, and the soldiers started mingling with the many excited families, who, like us, had come to see the passing out parade and welcome their boys home.
Mam said brother Gordon was there somewhere, and that we had to be patient. When he arrived, I hid behind Mam’s coat and peeped out. After hugs and handshakes, big brother sought me out. He lifted me high into the sky, arms straight out. Me, with the usual basin haircut, complete with ribbon, the traditional pinafore corduroy dress, and an
enormous pair of navy knickers. I remember trying to hold my pinafore dress down to hide my knickers, but to no avail. And there it was, a photo snapped for posterity, by the Daily Herald which became my Mam’s favourite photo.
20th December 2021