Winchelsea Wednesdays

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The Farthest Bridge

I often wonder why some enterprises garner more support, or gather more traction than others. Why do some advertising campaigns gather momentum and take off, while others, equally worthy, well planned and funded, just don’t attract the attention they should?

My neighbour Geraldine, recently pointed out to me how much she dislikes the ‘Go Compare’ ads. While I view them as a bit of fun, a silly and lighthearted way to remind us of something serious, she finds a tenor singing a jingle irritating and irreverent. And that’s because I’m not invested in singing in any way at all, whereas Geraldine is. She is a loyal member of The Hastings Philharmonic Choir. Just as I find most cooking programs on TV, patronising and flippant, so does she when it comes to the misuse of her art, whatever the message behind it.

And so it proves with even wars. We are all following the detail of what’s happening in Ukraine, but thirty years ago, another war in Europe, was just a regular item on the evening news. Jeremy Bowen would bring us powerful reports of events in Bosnia, just two and a half hours away. As a nation, we never engaged with that conflict in an emotional sense, despite the fact that we certainly did on the ground, from the outset and to this day.

Margaret Sargent will be with us on Wednesday, 8 March. With her we will learn about ‘The Forgotten Army of the Second World War’. The Fourteenth Army was a Commonwealth Force, made up of British, East and West African divisions and Indian units. By the end of the war it was, in fact, one of the largest remaining armies. Perhaps because it was on the other side of the world, perhaps because there was so much going on, on our own doorstep, their story was never reported in the same way as the War in Europe. The Burma Campaign, Singapore, Mandalay, Rangoon; all romantic names, which don’t seem to elicit the horror in us that they should. David Lean’s Oscar winning 1957 film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Tenko the 1980s TV series, or Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, are probably all that most of us know about the Far East between 1939-46. As usual at Second Wednesday, we will have the chance to learn from an expert, with the added benefit of first hand knowledge and precious personal recollections.

As we have seen from our first two talks this year and the variety of people’s personal stories, they are always powerful, fascinating, enlightening and beguiling. Through the charm and passion of experience, we discover and understand far more about our world and it’s history. And so it will prove again next Wednesday, at 2.30pm in Winchelsea New Hall. See you all then…

Image Credits: Columbia Pictures .

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