… aside from not opening its overheated pages, that is. But when you do – here’s the Opinion spread this morning.
Yes, Comment is indeed Free; and opinions cheap. May dragging the UK under … Brexit to cost Britain dear … Britain is in chaos … Tories may destroy the Union … the Brexit fanatics are at the helm … time for Wales to start talking about Independence … May must not trigger Article 50 … (leavened with a little squeak of … I feel ill at the thought of another referendum in Scotland).
Wow. Enough to make any of us feel ill.
Well. I’ve been travelling a bit recently, and took the opportunity to re-read Fitzroy Maclean‘s fabulous memoir of his legendary exploits in WW2 (special forces ops in the western desert and Yugoslavia) and the years preceding it, Eastern Approaches. And not just his own stirring deeds. Have a read of this and put the Scotty fish-woman out of your mind. This is what Britain is made of.
No account of events on Vis [an island off Yugoslavia] would be complete without some mention of Admiral Sir Walter Cowan [who] had, after a long and distinguished career, retired from the Navy in 1931, at the age of sixty. In 1939, the outbreak of war, he had managed to get himself re-employed, and not wishing to stay at home, he had himself sent out to the Middle East which, he felt, offered more scope to a man of his tastes. He had always enjoyed fighting on shore, preferably hand to hand, as much or more than fighting at sea, and had won his D.S.O. in the Sudan serving under Lord Kitchener in the ‘nineties.
Accordingly, at the age of seventy, he attached himself to an India Cavalry Regiment serving in the Western Desert, with the rank of Commander R.N. and in the somewhat ill-defined position of Naval Liaison Officer. In this capacity he took part in a number of Commando raids, startling all concerned by his complete disregard of danger. But in those days things were not going as well as they might in the desert and one day the party he was with had the misfortune to be completely overrun by a strong force of German tanks. Admiral Cowan was last seen advancing sternly on one of the enemy’s tanks, discharging his pistol at it from point-blank range.
Last seen, that is, until, having escaped from his prison camp, he appeared a year or two later in Italy and immediately attached himself to Tom Churchill’s Commando Brigade. Those of us who had known him in the desert were delighted to see him reappear on Vis, as frail-looking, as dashing and as friendly as ever. There he was to end the war, adding, at the age of seventy-three, by his gallantry on a raid, a bar to the D.S.O. which he had won half a century before.
What a man! What men they were indeed.