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Reg becomes introspective

by Market Harborough Royal British Legion

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
Market Harborough Royal British Legion
People in story: 
Reg Tarry
Location of story: 
East Africa
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 January 2006

After three years in the RAF and nearly two overseas, in Egypt and East Africa, Reg Tarry wrote in his Journal that he had sent the following letter to his mother and father. This assessment of how this period had changed him must have been paralleled in thousands of other young men and women. It is submitted to the site on behalf of Mr Tarry, now a lively old gentleman of nearly 96, by a member of Market Harborough Branch, Royal British Legion. Several other extracts from the copious Journal he wrote whilst overseas have already appeared on the site, so he fully understands its terms and conditions.

“Three years ago today, on July 8th 1940, I went to Cardington for my attestation for the Royal Air Force. What a lot has happened in those three years. The places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met are amazing when one stops to think of them, and, except fort the separation from home and family — and of course, the cause of it all — I don’t regret it one bit. It has been a truly wonderful experience and an education to me and I thank God that I have a discerning mind and have been able to find something of interest in all I’ve been privileged to see and do.

“On the whole I don’t think I’ve changed much in spite of it all. Certain changes are bound to have occurred; my speech for instance, has changed as it must through association with people. I have lost my local dialect — all to the good, I feel. I have more confidence in myself. I have a wider appreciation of men and matters, and, I think a shrewder judgement of things and people.

“The experience has broadened my mind and taught me many things about the world in general and human nature in particular I would never have learned at home; it has made me realise that there are places other than Rushden which was, for nearly 30 years my world. Truly travel is a great school. I have met people of types and classes I’d never have had the privilege — or the courage - to have met before the war. In those days a fellow who was, say a bank manager for instance, was in another class — even a world apart from me, and as such, in narrow little Rushden, almost unapproachable, and so far as people whose income ran into thousands, why, I’d have trembled had they spoken to me. Now they are just people whose jobs are slightly different to mine, and actually are perfectly ordinary blokes and just as human as myself, which to a fellow born in the rut of a narrow little one town world is a great thing, and just as it should be. One gets an understanding of the other fellow’s point of view and an appreciation of his problems as well as his pleasures, and don’t you think that if this was experienced by more people of all classes there would be more mutual understanding and, in consequence, a much better world?

“We are taught to look for the good side of all things and surely this is one of the good things among the many evils of war.

“There are some things the last three years of life have taught me and they are things I’ll never forget. No class of people hold any terrors for me any more because I know I can approach anyone no matter what his social position or what his income, and he would be the first to admit that only superficial differences between us was our relative education and our jobs, both of which can be altered and improved by our own efforts. It is my aim in the future to reduce this difference — and it does exist to a certain degree. No more slaving at dead-end jobs in factories for me; I’m going to get out of the rut in which my life has run hitherto. I’m going to live, not merely exist, and with the unlimited opportunities for education and the wide field of interesting and remunerative occupations in the world today it will be entirely my own fault if I do not make a success of the future.”

The Journal entry following the quoted letter, reads, “I have gone to the trouble of setting this down in order that I may compare my state of mind now with what may take its place in the future, for I hope to keep this book for reasons of interest to myself and family in the years to come.”

Reg has not said whether he made these comparisons during the many subsequent years of his long life.

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