Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 45

Judges 7 v 1 – 8

Take up Your Arms.

I have just completed reading Captain Sir Tom Moore’s autobiography which is a fascinating read. Although there are obvious differences, there are many parallels between his life experiences and those of my own father. I suppose it is inevitable in many ways due to their similar age and therefore generation.

Both were Yorkshire men, Capt. Tom being born in Keighley and my dad being born in Barnsley but moving to Bradford, a stone throw from Keighley. Both had suffered bereavements at an early age, my dad lost his mother and sister while Capt. Tom lost his uncle.

I have to admit I know very little about my dad’s childhood, I don’t think he shared a great deal even in conversation when we worked together. I know his father, (my Big Grandad), remarried after the death of his first wife, and had quite a large family to his second wife creating a second generation of siblings to my dad and his immediate brothers and sisters.

As was the case with most men and boys in the Barnsley area at that time it was expected that as soon as age permitted they finished up underground in the coal mines, (down t’pit) or at best working on the surface but still at the colliery and dad was no exception.

Then comes another parallel with Capt. Tom, motorbikes.

Dad used to tell the stories of his adventures on his Matchless 1000cc bike as a youth with similar experiences to Capt. Tom on his motorbike. I think dad still had his bike when he met my mum but I don’t recall either of them indicating that mum ever rode on it. It is interesting that despite dad’s passion for motorbikes, he strictly forbade me from having one. To this day although I have driven most types of four wheeled vehicles, I have never ridden on a motorbike.

Similar to Capt. Tom, dad’s passion for motorbikes was pivotal in his role in world war two. Dad used to tell the tale that after conscription and basic training; officers asked if any of the new recruits could drive. Dad put up his hand but failed to disclose that he had only ever driven a motorcycle. He along with one or two other men, were taken to one side and presented with the keys to an extremely large tank transporter, which was a very big articulated lorry specifically designed to carry tanks. For the majority of the war, dad, and his tank transporter, where in North Africa transporting new tanks to the front line and bringing damaged tanks back for repair.

Captain Tom, first had command of a tank then moved to be an instructor in tank warfare, but he was stationed in Burma.

There was a time when dad was re-introduced to a motorcycle but details of this escapade were always sketchy both from dad when he was alive and research after his death. It involved dad acting as a dispatch rider on a motorcycle but whatever the purpose behind the operation or the eventual result of the action was never revealed. It earned dad a mention in dispatches and he was honoured with an Oak Leaf to add to his medals.

I noted that Capt. Tom also had a similar experience as a dispatch rider for which he was also decorated for his actions.

On de-mob dad chose not to return to his previous employment and attended a rehabilitation course in building construction at Thorpe Arch near Harrogate, something that was to be the blueprint for his employment for the rest of his life.

Dad and his three brothers started a building business called, ‘Turton Brothers’ and carried out building work across the Yorkshire area. In the early 1950s dad decided to go it alone and formed his own business which he ran until retirement. Capt. Tom on the other hand returned to his father’s building business.

If we read the Bible, Judges 7 v 1 – 8, we see there were even stranger methods of selecting suitable soldiers for battles. Judges describes the period in Israel’s history after the death of Moses and Joshua, but prior to the introduction of their monarchy. Over this period several notable people established themselves as great leaders and ‘heroes’, (Judges) of the Jewish nation. One such leader, (Judge), was Gideon.

Gideon had the unenviable task of facing the mighty army of the Midianites and he started to recruit his own army to attack the enemy camp. He achieved in assembling a force of 22,000 soldiers before God intervened, instructing him that if he followed God’s instructions there would be no need for an army of that size. When the army would have victory they would claim it for themselves and not accept that it was down to God’s power that they succeeded. God wanted an army of just 300 men to destroy the Midianites, and then it would be clear to everyone that God is powerful.

The selection process involved taking out all those who were afraid, those who did not want to be there, and those who drank water from the river in a certain way, (lapped the water up with their tongues). Eventually God had selected 300 men from the original 22,000 for Gideon’s army.

Gideon followed God’s instructions and armed his men with a trumpet and a glass jar containing a torch and by creating fear and confusion they drove the Midianites into frenzy and they began to fight amongst themselves.

Notwithstanding the fact that dad rode a motorcycle, drove a tank transporter, drove army surplus trucks and vans for the business and a car for himself, he never passed a driving test , – and you could tell.

His driving licence came from the army and entitled him to drive just about everything.

Derek T.