Grandad’s War – Chapter Twelve ‘No one said a word’
‘Grandad attended many Coldstream Guards dinners both locally and across the country with other branches as well as down in London he kept every menu and ticket, he even kept the very first Menu from 1945 that his comrades signed whilst they were still in Europe. This is a short story told by Steve’s son about one of those dinners;
It was around 1984, the Coldstream Guards Association, Doncaster Branch were holding an annual dinner, my Dad and I were going along to a venue in Doncaster one evening and I went to Crossgates to pick him up from his house, he got in the car and was carrying a spare Coldstream Colours dress tie and a suit jacket. I didn’t really question it at the time even though he was wearing them already with his suit He told me to call over at Castleford, as we were going to give his mate a lift to the dinner, he was also a Coldstream Guard WWII veteran, my Dad had paid for his friends dinner ticket as a kind gesture. We proceeded to a small house in Castleford, Dad’s friend was so happy to see him and was so grateful when he realised my Dad had brought him a spare regimental tie to wear to the dinner.
We went into his house, it didn’t have much inside at all, and hardly any furniture or comforts I could tell that he was very poor. He stood in his old trousers and pyjama jacket top and put the tie on, I thought he was going to get changed and put on something else, but he didn’t have anything else to wear, he couldn’t afford it so we left and got in the car as he was. We all drove to the dinner at Doncaster and walked into the venue, it was lovely and everyone was dressed formally, Dad’s friend came in with us wearing his pyjama top and old trousers, I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in and people in the room looked over to us. Immediately the veterans and guardsmen at the dinner all came over to say hello and not one person batted an eyelid at the man in his pyjama top, they treated Dad’s friend, a fellow Coldstreamer with as much respect as they did me and my Dad. All evening this man sat in his pyjamas wearing his Coldstream tie with such pride, he conversed with his old comrades and younger Coldstream Guards, we sat through dinner and had a lovely time, I was simply humbled that absolutely no one mentioned his pyjama’s or gave him a funny look, he was treated with the respect and honour he deserved for being a Coldstream Guard Veteran, one who had served King and country.
‘A persons true character is shown when they carry out acts that no one else may ever see or know about, this story is so moving and encapsulates how Steve valued his comrades, and how they value each other. It is important that we understand and respect what our forces have done for our freedom today, and continue to do, it helps us to understand why Steve kept all these things and marked his journey as if it is one of the most important stories to be told, because it is. Over the years we may forget words, what people have told us or said to us, but we never forget how someone makes us feel, Grandad seemed to have the power to put a smile on anyone’s face and make them feel warm, respected and loved; what a gift.’