The Blitz Mentality we need
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
(Read on Athlone Community Radio 21/10/20)
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
The immortal words of British prime minister Winston Churchill on the 20th of August 1940.
How many strobe lights or disco balls would you see on the streets today if we experienced another Blitz? How many Christmas tree lights would be hung early this year or bonfires lit?
Boris Johnson has advocated for a Blitz mentality for years and I agree with him in the most part.
As terrible as the Blitz was, England emerged from the experience united against their enemy and I believe that London was lucky when it came to the Blitz.
Did the Germans ever really bomb Westminster, Big Ben or Buckingham Palace for example?
People worked hard and worked hard together to make sure that London was kept safe and part of that was keeping London in the dark.
There was help, I’m sure from across the Atlantic and unsung heroes from Poland and Chekoslavakia where Polish pilots fought for the home that they had lost in September 1939.
A Spanish spy played a very important part in Operation Overlord and I’m sure plenty of spies convinced the Germans that their bombing raids on London, were exactly on target.
I believe that 10,000 people died in the Blitz as a result of V1 and V2 bombs but 10,000 Jewish prisoners died making those same rockets.
Can you imagine the destructive force of Nazi Germany if they focused on Britain or Russia but not both. Can you imagine if Adolf Hitler united people against the British and not the Jews?
Imagine if German jews were based in army barracks and not as prisoners patrolled by SS guards. Imagine if people like Albert Einstein and other scientists were working on the kind of wunderwaffle we saw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Blitz mentality is far better than herd mentality but I’m not sure if people have realised that we are in this together and there is no nation or army or airforce to fight, just a virus.
We are not united, and in the future no one will talk about our struggle with pride and no one will remember the Blitz, the same way that our generation forgot about Spanish Flu 100 years ago.
In Early March as I made my way to work on the Metro in Madrid, I was very conscious that governments and even the W.H.O. were downplaying the issue too much and I started to wear a scarf around my face while CNN broadcast reports that puplic transport was completely safe to use.
They said, move away from people who are coughing and sneezing and don’t worry as it takes about 20 minutes contact with an infected person but my 20 minute train ride was the perfect place to catch something as there is no room to socially distance yourself underground and Metro Madrid didn’t seem to make any efforts to clean trains or even advise us about the potential dangers.
Just before I arrived at work, I would pass by a ghost station which closed 50 years ago but once housed people deep underground as a bomb shelter during the Spanish Civil War.
Most Passangers might not have thought of the significance of this dimly lit station, that they passed at speed but for me it was a reminder of the past, and what it means to live during the Blitz.
While I started wearing a scarf and a single disposable glove on the Metro in March, women started to march, football stadiums were packed and political rallies were held in Madrid. Over a week later in England, Cheltenham welcomed a quarter of a million people to their tightly packed stands while Spain was already in complete lockdown.
Pharmacies, supermarkets, tobacco shops and vegetable shops was all that remained of the bustling streets in Madrid as we retreated to our bunkers, our bedrooms and our man caves.
All we had to do was watch tv as the government fought germs this time and not Germans.
We lost the fight this time because we failed to unite like our parents’ parents did in the 1940s and people still argue that Coronavirus is just like the flu.
I found a meme online that argued that your chances of surviving on the beaches of Normandy were marginally higher than Coronavirus. I loved the argument but questioned the figures as I thought the allied casualties alone were much higher than 4414 quoted but when I went looking for figures on Operation Overlord, that was the figure that came up, which was actually a much higher figure than previous estimates.
I do not want to compare Coronavirus to the hell that people saw on Omaha, Sword or Juno on June 6th 1944 but lets call a spade a spade and get dug in here.
Let’s mobilise all our efforts and resources and eliminate this virus from our shores.
I even suggested to my parents a few weeks ago that maybe they should consider taking my young nieces, and take them out of their creches and schools. My mother said that you couldn’t do that to them at such a young age but that is what they did in the Blitz. They put name tags on children and posted them to the countryside on trains.
Suggesting that my parents take two of their grandkids from their parents isn’t all that extreme especially since we still have Zoom and cartoons. My teenage nephews could still stay with their parents and go off to school to fight, my siblings could still continue to work their jobs and my parents separate with their young grandkids could self isolate in a Blitz mentality that is needed right now.
It is an extreme idea I know but sending children to the countryside has worked well in the past.
I don't mean to be such a pessamist but last year, a Spanish friend asked me where would be a good place to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Madrid and I said, “At home.”
She thought that I was crazy but a packed bar is not the place to be during a Pandemic and within a few days, Saint Patrick’s Day was cancelled in Ireland even though the bars were still open in Northern Ireland and six months later and I have just received an e-mail regarding the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in Madrid. The plan is to host the party on March 6th 2021.
Almost exactly a year after our Coronavirus Blitz started.
Have we forgotten Never Forget?
Nobody says that only the weak died during the Blitz and that younger people probably survived walls and roofs falling on them, better than the elderly did and that is the nonsense we are listening to today.
Likewise, some people are arguing that people are dying of other causes and not Coronavirus but surely that argument is like saying that the 3,000 people who died on September 11th 2001, all died of different causes. Some burnt to death, some suffocated, some we watched jump to their deaths. Is that to be considered suicide because the 19 hijackers didn’t touch them? I don’t think so.
The terrorist attack touched everyone, from Manhattan to Madrid and the Middle East and it affected every nation and every religion, Muslim and Mormon.
The attacks that day started two wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq and I’m sure if you checked the autopsies of the bodies recovered on that mid September day, many died of cuts and bruises and suffocation. Some of flames and others on a plane. Some had their throats cut
and some were never identified.
There is probably a 9/11 event every day in America where thousands are getting infected and almost as many people dying every few days from Coronavirus as on that faithful day in September.
You don't need to be a fighter pilot during the blitz or terrorist hijacker to cause harm.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”
Those words mean the same today if you apply them to the person who contracts Coronavirus and takes no precautions to save their loved ones around them.
And I wonder how will we be remembered for our fight against Coronavirus?
When every man woman and child has to enter this fight, you don’t need to go over the top like in WW1 but you do need to wear a mask like they did 100 years ago.
Few bombs fell on the Irish Free State during World War II. This is our Blitz if you haven’t realised it.
Ireland is far removed from Europe and never suffered the horrors of the Blitz but that doesn’t mean that Athlone wasn’t prepared for the posibility of a German invasion and I remember talking with a local man about the tank tramps in town and anti-aircraft gun positions he played in after the war.