- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Arthur Cope, R. A. (T. A.)
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 August 2005
The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Arthur Cope, R. A. (T. A.) and Richard A. Cope.
'Operation Python' was introduced to ensure that Servicemen came home from active service overseas after five years. Due to the fact that following our evacuation from Dunkirk we had spent less than six weeks in England, our overseas service was allowed to count as continuous, so we were eligible to return to 'Blighty' from Italy even though the exact period was slightly more than four years.
But what a change four years had made. One of the major shocks was to observe how my parents had aged. This was hardly surprising because I had three brothers and all four of us were in the Services overseas. My younger brother, in the R.A.F. was in the Middle East, where we had been fortunate to meet at El Adem for the first time for nearly three years. Our two other brothers were serving in the Far East. The worry had taken terrible toll on Mum and Dad, as was only natural. My brothers and I all received our medals after the war, but I often considered that parents and wives equally deserved some similar recognition.
When I sailed to the Middle East in September 1940, my sister-in-law was 16 years of age. What a difference I found in 1944. She was no longer the long-legged girl, but a lovely young women.
However, one of the most vivid memories I have of my return home after being away for those four years was the greetings that I (and I am sure others) received. Invariably the wording was something like: "Hello, Arthur, lovely to see you. WHEN DO YOU GO BACK?"
"When do you go back?" and I had only just got home! But I am sure they meant well.
Incidentally, I got married on January 6th, 1940, whilst on leave from France, so I had not experienced much 'wedding bliss' when I set sail for Egypt. My wife continued to live with her parents and sister in their two-bedroomed house. I arrived home from my overseas service at 2.30 in the morning and had woken up the family. About two hours later, after non-stop talking, we decided that it was 'bed-time'. My wife and her sister went to one bedroom and her parents went to the other one.
Me? Well, after four years separation from my young bride, I had to sleep downstairs on the settee!
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