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Posts Tagged ‘Battle of France

How and why I’ve been telling my life story here and elsewhere!

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António Damásio, Portuguese neuroscientist.
Image via Wikipedia

I like Antonio Damasio‘s thoughts about our brain and our behaviors influenced by the working of our brain, or brains!

Here is what I read by him on the Big Think web site:

we do not give the same amount of emotional significance to every event.

For some 45 years of my life I felt little emotional significance coming from my experience in Spain, France and then Canada when I was a babe in arms until I was 10 or so. It was as if I had not experienced anything but I did have nightmares and often.

And yes I remember being a fearful little boy, bigger boy and teenager. But since my birth family believed that we had to move on and not dwell on less beneficial history, I never had nor asked for, the chance to recover, consider and put behind me the frights that I lived through especially in France from September 1939 until we arrived in Canada in July 1940. I guess you could say that I had almost 12 months of little boy hell with my birth family during our prolonged “escape” during the Fall of France.

As I understand it from pieces of family recollections, my mother and my siblings lived in and around Verneuil-s-Avre about 160 kms south east of Paris during most of that time.

It must have been a reasonably quiet place until refugees from Belgium, Luxemberg and the north of France began trickling through starting around May 10, 1940 and then stampeding through after May 18 to the south and west of France chased by the German panzer tanks, infantry storm troops and terror bombing by Stuka aircraft.

But let me go back to what Damasio says about the amount of significance I must have put on those experiences, especially when my nanny, Pensa Gomez, left us to live with the Wanamaker family in France. To this day, I can’t hear some music without tears welling in my eyes. In my case that’s got nothing to do with John Boehner‘s supposed emotional outburst talking about how much he has done to protect and recover the American Dream. But I guess each of us has a right to our own significance!

Later in his discussion Damasio says that we tend to go on and change or reconstruct the narrative we tell about our life. Depending on other pleasureable or unpleasant events in our life. For myself, I cam late to the telling of the narrative of my life. I didn’t really begin until I was 65 or so.

From 4 to 65 is a long time to have left my narrative untold and unremembered. But I finally got here and now I feel better for having told my narrative, even if the first 5 years worth are mostly reconstructions from bits and pieces from my older brother, random family records and photos. At least I know what I looked like at about 8 or 9 months in Barcelona and then in Montreal and in the Pyrenees when I was 2 and after that when I was 4 in Paris in 1939.

I’ve just had a thought that I regret because I thought that I had put this stuff behind me insofar as my father was concerned. But I had another thought, and maybe Damasio is right in this way, about resenting my father’s placing more importance with his Bank and employees in France and not enough on me in my plight of feeling repeated losses too early in my short life till then. There I’ ve said it “I resent what my father did to overstay in France and Spain” just to satisfy his own interests and those of the Bank!

I will come back to this tomorrow or the days after!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/12 at 00:26

June 18, 1940 me and my family were still in France

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and Sir Winston Churchill was giving his “their finest hour” speech in the British Parliament:

This is how this time is described in yesterday’s NY Times:

Seventy years ago, on June 18, 1940,Winston Churchill, barely six weeks in office as Britain’s prime minister and confronted with the threat of invasion from Nazi-occupied France, rose in the House of Commons and, in 36 minutes of soaring oratory, sought to rally his countrymen with what has gone down in history as his “finest hour” speech.

The speech — ending with the words “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’ ” — has resonated ever since. On both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, it has been hailed as the moment when Britain found the resolve to fight on after the fall of France, and ultimately, in alliance with American and Russian military might, to vanquish the German armies that had overrun most of Europe.

Me and my family eventually, around June 25, 1940, well after Churchill’s speech and after the armistice was signed by Petain  with Hitler’s Nazi regime, left the shores of France for Portsmouth, England.  We  got back to shores of Canada, via Halifax NS by July 13, 1940 when I officially landed in Canada as testified by a document from Immigration Canada.

I have no living memory of landing in Canada or of leaving the shores of France, but I take something from my feeble connection by place to Churchill’s famous words.

We made our way back to Canada on the MS Batory, which at that time was carrying the gold bullion holdings of the Government of Poland. Needless to say our convoy,  which left Greenock,  Scotland on July 7 was heavily protected by ships of the Royal Navy.

This is a quote from an earlier post about his convoy:

According to Royal Navy archives on the July 5th, battleship REVENGE met anti-aircraft cruiser BONAVENTURE (Captain H. J. Egerton) and troopships MONARCH OF BERMUDA (22,424grt), SOBIESKI (11,030grt), and BATORY (14,287grt). These five ships, which carried $1,750,000,000 in gold and securities from the Bank of England for safekeeping in Canada, departedGreenock at 0545 on the 5th escorted by destroyer GARTH.

The British ships arrived safely at Halifax on the 12th. Troopship BATORY with engine room defects was detached to St Johns escorted by anti-aircraft cruiser BONAVENTURE which then continued on to Halifax. Troopship BATORY arrived at Halifax on the 13th.

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