To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), Paul Chadwick, 62, gives an insight into his military career and discovering his love of writing.
The talented poet has written a commemorate VE Day poem called Victory in Europe; The Beacon Remembers. Paul is from The Beacon, our homeless Veterans accommodation in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
In 1974, when I was just 16 years of age I left home for the start of an adventure of a lifetime. I arrived in Shrewsbury to join Junior Soldiers of The Light Infantry. A year later after Junior and Adult training I joined the Second Battalion The Light Infantry in Lemgo, Germany.
At 18 years of age I did my first tour of Northern Ireland and found myself walking backwards down the Falls Road. During my career I did two more tours of Ireland, one of them being for a duration of 18 months in Ballykinler. I also served in the U.K, Germany, Gibraltar and Kenya. I eventually joined Signal Platoon where, after many courses, I became a Regimental Signal’s Instructor.
I left the Army in 1988 and moved back to my home town of Leeds, but like many veterans, I found it hard to settle into ‘Civvie Street’. Eventually my family and I moved up to Richmond, near Catterick Garrison.
Years later I suffered a breakdown and found myself to be homeless and without a job. Luckily for me there is a place in the garrison called The Beacon which is a Supported Housing Scheme for single veterans. It is a scheme which has 31 one-bedroomed flats and has a team of Support Staff who try to help us with our mental and physical health and wellbeing issues.
It was here that I was first encouraged to enter a competition and I decided to write a piece of poetry. I didn’t win, but suddenly I had found a new passion and a reason to enjoy life again. I am quite a shy man, but writing poems made me realise that I could express my feelings and thoughts and put them into words. I find this very therapeutic and it is a way to let people know who I really am, how I feel and why I am the way I am.
Last year I volunteered to help the Catterick Branch of the Royal British Legion by working on a “stall” selling Poppies for Remembrance Day.
I was very touched when I was approached by a member of staff at The Beacon who asked me if I would like to write a poem for VE Day. This request gave me a lot of self-pride and I felt good about myself for the first time in years.
Victory in Europe; The Beacon Remembers
Happier days are coming now the war is over
We are going back home to England and the white cliffs of Dover
We can see the ships in the water, as we all stand in line
We are going home to our families and maybe a glass of wine.
The nation will be celebrating; the date is the 8th of May
Victory in Europe 1945, we will call it VE-DAY
We are proud of all our forces and we will remember those we lost
The freedom we enjoy today came at an awful cost.
Seventy five years on and spring is the season
The flags are flying high as we celebrate here in the Beacon
We maybe all on lockdown, on this special day
But the staff have organised a party in their own special way.
The help I get from the Beacon, fills me up with pride
It gives me a safe feeling, having them on my side
A silence will be held at some point, social distancing as we stand outside
The last post will be sounding, as we remember those that died.
Victory in Europe will be celebrated, in our home that is the Beacon
With sarnies and a cuppa and anything else that we can sneak in
A party with a difference as we are still locked down today
But a happy time will be had by all, on this our
© Paul Chadwick