Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sympathizing those in the front line of the Battle



I must admit, I am extremely terrified with the booming sounds of machine guns and everything about military weapons but the ironic thing is, I loved reading books about wars and military operations, spy stories and intricate military strategies fascinate me, so every time I meet someone from the armed forces I asked endless questions because I am curious towards many things, but I am also very careful not to cross the line of badgering classified informations and everything about sensitive stuff that has something to do with the national security I know it should be off limits.

I've already read numerous books related to wars: Thirty Years of War, the Crimean War, World War I, World War II, the Battle of Britain and the longest war ever fought in human history that lasted 116 years, the Hundred Years of War (fought only by two countries--England and France). But there's one portion of the war that really struck me deeply---the individual condition of the soldiers in the battlefield who risked their lives to defend the interest of the nation.

Most of the time, when we are confronted with wars, our concerned is mainly on the destination of the conflict ---when it will end, how the situation progresses and the number of casualties ---- but we forgot to consider the emotional state of the soldiers during the war, their morale, their mental and psychological conditions, their individual situation, how are they feeling? Have they eaten? Have they already lost their senses trying to endure the trauma in the battlefield and how about their feeling of worthiness? Although it's not so much of the concern of the world as it's already part of the package of the profession but somehow I cannot help but think what are the things they had been going through while actively doing their job in the battlefield.

The most memorable testimonies I ever read about surviving the terror of war were those of the soldiers who fought during World War I and the Battle of Britain, the testimonies were simply gripping and moving that I often thought of how many lives will still be sacrificed because of misunderstanding, insecurities and political tensions in the environment?

World War II was the most scary among the books of wars I read maybe because of the inhuman injustices and brutalities committed by the Nazi and the Japanese combatants. It was sorely catastrophic that I prayed would never be repeated in our existence.

But what is our guarantee? With the news of chaos and wars erupting in almost every corner of the world, Zamboanga City in the Philippines, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, Bangladesh and other nations, and President Barack Obama's plan to launch a military strike in Syria, I am not certain anymore if we could truly find peace and harmony.

For once, I prayed intensely for peace and solidarity in every nation, may the world will never encounter such atrocities again, may we are free from the horrifying disasters of armed conflicts in the years to come. May rebels find at least clear consideration in their correct senses that what they are doing is not for the best interest of their faction but a great havoc to the lives of most civilians and may the government finds fair solutions to the situation, something that would not create excuses for other groups to launch an assault.

Last night, I remember my book "Battle of Britain" again but then I forgot to bring it when I came to Manila, I left it together with the rest of my book collections in the house of my friend in Davao. The Battle of Britain retells the story of England's finest hour during World War II, the courage and bravery of the Royal Airforce pilots and the elite military skills of the British navy which made the plan of Hitler to invade Great Britain not successful and his Operation Sea Lion left unimplemented.

One of my favourite books about war, Battle of Britain authored by Matthew Parker
This book retells the gripping story of Britain's finest hour during World War II and the living testimonies of the Royal Airforce pilots who survived the conflict.

I got to remember this war-related condition due to the ongoing conflict in Zamboanga City. It's still frustrating to know that many lives have already been sacrificed for the recent insurgency.

Then I encountered this article in TIME magazine last night, very timely, because it has something to do with the Battle of Britain, one photo shows the scene in the Royal Airforce Fighter Command Airfield, the article features the memorable speech of one of World War II heroes, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

The Royal Airforce (RAF), despite its neophyte presence in the battlefield, exhausted every last drop of effort to fight the veteran Luftwaffe (German Airforce), the RAF and the British Navy joined forces to prevent the invasion so as not to fall Britain in the hands of Hitler and his Third Reich. 

The RAF took chances, with few preparations for an air battle and young British men suddenly plunged into becoming pilots and undergone rigid training how to maneuver Hurricanes and Spitfires, they faced the more expert Luftwaffe pilots with their mighty Heinkel, Junkers and Stuka diving bombers, and only miracle from heaven can guarantee Britain with a victory.

But did you know that miracle really happened eventually?

The Operation Dynamo for instance showed how weather and military skills create a miraculous combination which left the German forces in great shock, putting Hitler's military superiority in shame.

At the end of the fierce battle, the German commanders realized Hitler's Operation Sea Lion could never bring Britain to its knees and surrender. When Winston Churchill was informed that Hitler pulled out his troops and concentrated in other parts of the continent, he knew who to credit.

The spitfire aircraft used by the Royal Airforce of Britain
Heinkel Bombers used by the German Airforce during the Battle of Britain

Churchill sprung to his feet and delivered this moving speech to the House of Commons in August 20, 1940, praising the airmen of the Royal Airforce:

"The Gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire and to the entire world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and devotion. Never in the field of the human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

Though the victory was largely attributed to the highly skilled British Navy Officers, one would never mistaken the sacrifices, fighting spirit and high morale of the Airforce pilots.

The greatest attribute of the Royal Airforce pilots that helped them won the war however was their modesty according to TIME magazine. The RAF pilots were relatively young, ill-trained and unprepared compared to German Airforce pilots who were war veterans and considerably expert in the field, but the British pilots were so devoted, less temperamental and elaborately modest, committed to uphold the dignity of their mother land and determined to protect the country from invaders, it somehow helped them possessed a unique strength and distinct power to endure the exhausting battle and emerged triumphant.

Great Britain today
Last September 13, 2013, HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited Bentley Priory in Harrow, England, the headquarters of the Royal Airforce Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. A Spitfire and Hurricane flew overhead as the Prince spoke to veteran airmen and women at the filter room where German aircraft were monitored during the war

So while hoping the present chaos in the environment would soon end, I got to sympathize to soldiers who laboured hard to fight the enemies, who took unprecedented sacrifices, who offered their lives to ensure peace and political freedom will be protected. Let's admit that most of the time, we tend to forget to consider their welfare, their individual condition because we're too concerned with the plight of civilians and the interest of the nation but how about those who are thrust in the front line of the battle? Can we just pose for a few moment and think of them too? The sufferings they endured and the sacrifices they undertook?

Every time I see faces of soldiers in the TV, I often focus on the personal plight of each warrior, behind the courageous exterior, serious aura and physical strength they possessed, there was this mysterious puzzle that lays behind their corporal alertness. I wondered how they're really feeling at the moment, the deep thoughts that hide behind those dark uniforms, the fatigue and stress they undergone in the non-stop combat and all those individual concerns that are not covered by the news.

Hopefully their sacrifices will be paid of and something better will come out after all these conflicts.


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