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The WW2 Rhigos Experience - Part 4.

by Malcolm Mort

Contributed by 
Malcolm Mort
People in story: 
Malcolm Mort and relatives
Location of story: 
South Wales
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 December 2005

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After the war, my father worked for various large engineering contractors, installing heavy plant and equipment at oil refineries. One of the problems with this kind of work, was the long time periods of unemployment between contracts. This caused many arguments and bitter rows between my parents. After one such row, he packed his bags and left home, leaving no forwarding address. From what I can remember it wasn't a happy marriage, because my father wanted his independence and only came home when it suited him.

One day, my mother and I were visiting my sister's, when after ten years he had suddenly called to see her. He had reached retiring age and now had heart and blood circulation problems. He later visited my mother on a number of occasions, with a view to them getting back together again. It was decided that he should move in to live with my mother and I, but things didn't work out, so he got a flat nearby and began to live alone. All the same, he occasionally came around to see how my mother was and I often went to his flat and had a drink with him. In those days I was still working at John Currans.

One morning late in October 1982, my mother told me that for over two weeks she had not seen my father out shopping as she usually did. This resulted in my going to his flat to see if he was alright. When he answered the door, I noticed that his trousers were stained with blood and faeces. When I entered, I was confronted with a terrible mess. There was blood and faeces in the bathroom and on the carpets and there was blood in the bath. When I suggested getting the doctor, just like my uncle Harry had done, he told me that he just wanted to be left alone in peace. I went back home and telephoned his doctor, then returned to his flat. When the ambulance arrived, he quietly told me that he would be gone by Christmas. Needless to say that he was right.

After his death, the affect on my mother was that she hardly ever went out of the house. I always did the shopping and nothing that I bought was ever right. On occasions, I took her to my sisters house by car, but as she got older, she virtually confined herself to the house. In those latter years with Currans, I was fortunate enough to be involved with refurbishment and new building projects within the factory, which gave me the time to spend at home.

Returning to the chronological sequence of events, I decided to once more resort to part-time security work as a means to earn a living and to study for a Criminology Diploma on a part time course at the University of Wales College Cardiff.

For me, it was a hard two years with having to care for my mother. However, I successfully passed my written examination and both of my dissertations were accepted, which led to the award of my diploma.

I wrote to a number of large contract security firms, who could only offer me employment as a retail security guard, on a wage of £2.00p an hour. In addition, they expected me to cover assignments at various places within a 25 mile radius, using my own car for transport, at my own expense. The situation as I saw it, was that they were being dictated to by their clients, who were not prepared to go to the expense and trouble of employing their own security staff, but were prepared to entertain a situation which compelled contract security firms in turn to exploit their guards to survive in business.

The reality of the situation was that I had resorted to my RAF Police experience, followed by four years as a Special Constable in the Glamorganshire Constabulary, to be faced with the fact that contract security had no career prospects for me even though I had also written a dissertation on industrial loss risks as one of my criminology projects. As far as I was concerned, contract security work had served its useful purpose in my life and I had thoughts about freelance writing.

The reality of the situation was that my mothers health had worsened as she had aged. Things had got to the stage where she ate very little, unless I cooked her a meal. Whilst I had been traveling daily to Bristol doing security shift work, she had been getting meals on wheels, which even the cat wouldn't eat.

After rewriting my CV, I placed my name on the books of a large employment agency, knowing that I had practically no chance of getting back into industry as an Engineering Inspector. I then signed on at the Job Centre and started to study Short story writing, Radio Journalism, Radio Drama, Script Writing, Television Drama and Film Script Writing on a part-time basis, with the Extra Mural Studies Department at Cardiff University.

In due course, the people in the Job Centre sent me on Management Extension Programmes, which placed people who had technical and supervisory experience with small firms. However, I was fortunate in that I was able to obtain experience in journalism with them.

Just after my 55th Birthday, I lost the sight in my right eye, when the blood vessels in the back of my right eye ruptured, due to high blood pressure. After laser surgery to prevent further deterioration to my right eye, I was considered as being unemployable.

In 1992 my mothers health had deteriorated to such an extent that she became a resident in a home for the elderly and I was left living alone in a three bedroom house.

In 1997 I had a recurrence with my body tending to stoop forward and experienced difficulty walking with a tendency to lose my balance. The pain was put down to Arthritis and Rheumatism. At times my left arm was painful when changing gear. I also experienced problems sitting and standing. Over the years my health has deteriorated. I now live in a bungalow which has been built and fitted to house a disabled person.

There is a saying, that former armed services and merchant navy people find friendship in later life by joining their various ex-services charitable organizations. In 2000 I joined the Cardiff Merchant Navy Association (Wales), as their Hon Welfare Officer. In addition, I joined The Royal
British Legion (Cardiff Central Branch) and trained as a Welfare Caseworker. My main interest being Welfare Benefits and Disability Problems.

Some of my experiences in dealing with sick and elderly people who survived WW2 and those who served in the armed services in various actions since, leaves me sadly disillusioned where the Health Service, Benefits Agency and modern day Politicians with no armed services experience are concerned. With the Social Services, there are very long waiting lists for assessments by Occupational Therapists, where people require special aids such as, Stair lifts, Walk in showers, Beds, Lifting and reclining chairs, Electric scooters etc. to enable them to live at home. Things have got so desperate now, with Social Workers in some Hospitals asking patients if they served in the armed forces? If so, they suggest that patients could apply to The Royal British Legion for help, in the hope that a hospital bed could be unblocked. Some other welfare cases that I handled, concerned ex-services people who had been discharged on medical grounds being compelled to join long National Health Service hospital waiting lists for stress related, psychiatric or physical treatment. This I feel, leaves much to be desired where resettlement into Civvy Street is concerned.

I have met people who were Commissioned Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, who had had good standards of living in the services. The fact that their service occupations were not comparable with work in civvy street, resulted in severe income losses. Some people set out to buy houses, later to find themselves in trouble with overtime cut backs and redundancies. From my own experiences, I strongly advise service people to join the Royal British Legion whilst they are still in the services, as this gives them the opportunity to meet people who have civilian jobs. Leaving the services at about 30 years of age and training for a new career, is a lot easier said than done these days.

In the earlier part of this story I mentioned Richard Henry Thorne (Uncle Harry), but was unable to write in detail until obtaining access to his service records. His service reference states that: during WW2 he served as a Dragoon in the Warwickshire Yeomanry, for 7 years in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Persia, Egypt and Italy. He was a man of complete integrity and reliability. Due to his hard work during training, his conscientiousness and dedication to duty in action, he was considered with high regard. The photograph of his medals and this reference, speak more for the man of worth, who always said very little about his WWII experiences.

What I have written about my own experiences, serve to show that establishing a new career, is not always as easy as first thought, due to other things happening in life.

At a promotion interview in the armed services, hobbies and interests play an important part, in that it allows candidates to show aditional skills, knowledge and understanding, which allow them to emphasise their ability. Unpaid voluntary work as welfare case workers within The Royal British Legion, provides useful experience. This also applies where the Royal Airforce association is concerned. Within the Royal British Legion, there is also a Duke of Edinburgh Award training scheme for young people working on a voluntary basis.

The story of THE RHIGOS EXPERIENCE parts 1- 4, were written by Malcolm Mort and edited by Chhimed Wangpo

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