The War, My Grandfather – And The Sore On The Girl’s Lip

RAF Pilots 1943 - Flying Officer Arthur O Weeks (Barbados) & Flt Sgt Collins A Joseph (Trinidad). Neither of these men were Robert's grandfather!

RAF Pilots 1943 - Flying Officer Arthur O Weeks (Barbados) & Flt Sgt Collins A Joseph (Trinidad). Neither man was Robert's grandfather!

Ghosts of London

I have had far too much to drink tonight so I will tell you a story that my grandfather told me a long time ago. I am visiting his ghost tonight in London.

The year was 1943, and my grandfather was in Britain wearing a uniform.

He was on leave in London and, traumatized and in a zombielike state, he walked along the river where he met a young lady. They talked and walked for the entire afternoon. My grandfather said they never touched, they never held hands — they only talked. He said that he fell deeply in love in a matter of a few hours. Admittedly he was only 19 years old but he said there was no doubt in his mind that he would marry this woman and that she would have his children. All this decided in a few hours over a chance meeting. But it was wartime.

When they were hungry he decided to spend a month’s wages on a meal. As he told me, no one saved anything during the war. What was the use of saving if you might not be around to enjoy it?

They chose a restaurant and took a seat. After 20 minutes when no service was offered, my grandfather became angry and he stormed into the kitchen to demand service. An old cook took him by the arm and said “Lad, the girl has a sore on her lip. Everyone knows who she is and what she does and you had best not be mixed up with that sort young lad.”

I asked my grandfather what he did and he hung his head and said, “I went out the back, and there is hardly a day has gone by when I have not thought of that in shame.”

I have never told anyone about this before. Not any of my long gone wives or women. Not my frineds. No one until tonight.

And that is my story for you on a wet and dreary London night.


( Marcus: if you want to delete this go ahead)

Photo credit: Flickr


Filed under Barbados, History

7 responses to “The War, My Grandfather – And The Sore On The Girl’s Lip

  1. Sir Bentwood Dick


    Ah. Your story is interesting. I am sure that your grandfather could easily be forgiven not only for his moment of ‘fallability’, falling for the young lady, also for his disappointment and hasteful exit.

    Coming from a war, for the relief of even a few hours with female companionship must have filled a big hole indeed, one can only imagine.

    Further, I am told that London may have that effect, walking with a young lady along the streets, baring ones soul to what may seem as a gentle and lovely companion.

    His youthfulness gave him dreams of happiness and love, which indeed may be a ‘rite of passage’ for such young men, he also had the war to contend with.

    His hasteful exit was, for a young man, self-preservation, also understandable, I am sure that he is not alone in this ‘relationship’ ending less than happily.

    Nevertheless, understanding and maturity are borne of experiences, we may all have moments of regret, but maybe if he had not had this experience, then he would not have appreciated the later ones, in the same way?

    To be fair, one does not know what limitations that girl had in her life, to bring her to her lifestyle and so can only say, that they were but two ships that pass in the night, each soul gaining something that was needed in their encounter.

    Enjoy the old town.

  2. 135

    Wow Robert,

    That story touched me in so many ways.

    Was your grandfather from Barbaods and fighting for the mother country,therefore was not aware of the ladies of the night.

    Mybe having just landed from the colonies where almost all of the white ladies he may have encountered would have been ‘respectable’,he made the assumption that surely a young,attractive white lady from the Mother Country could be no less ‘respectable’.

    Perfectly undersyandable in those times.

    Still a revealing story in so many ways.

    Very Grateful however that your grandfather made the wise choice to save himself and his progeny and slip out the back door;if not who knows we might not have you with us today.

  3. Pat

    He should have paid for a meal for the lady before exiting the back door. Or, at least, left her a few pounds for her time. It was wartime. Things were tough. She probably hadn’t eaten in days, only to have the meal snatched.

  4. Red Lake Lassie

    Robert’s grandfather probably should have done many things in his life but he had the decency to regret his leaving. How many men would regret doing that enough to remember it decades later? Robert, your grandfather must have been a decent man.

  5. Analyzer

    To Pat:
    He probably didn’t want to make a scene when he found out what the girl did. If the girl was genuine she would have told him from the beginning what she did. He was being taken advantage of but didn’t know it. Maybe he would’ve handled it differently if he wasn’t so young.

  6. John

    Looks like a Spitfire with 20 mm wing cannon, deadly in its day.

    Always remember seeing a photo of 12 Bajans who joined up after the Battle of Britain in 1940, one of them Erroll Barrow.

    It was in Peter Morgan’s book on Errol Barrow.

    They followed the first Bajans who joined up at the start of the war.

    They were responding to the call for pilots from the Mother Country to replace those lost in the Summer over Britain and to meet the expanding manpower needs of the war.

    Six of those in the picture never made it back, their names are on the Cenotaph in Bridgetown and commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Google CWGC.

    Both men in the photo seem to have made it through the war, many didn’t.

    Robert, your grandfather was lucky more than this once, and when it really mattered.

  7. Spitfire

    It is a Merlin-engined Spit. The Griffin-engine Spits had bumps on the cowl.