This cap badge is in memory of my maternal grandfather, John Edward Fisher (d. 1960). Born in Russell Street in Cambridge. He began his working life making paper. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he joined the Cambridgeshire Pals Regiment.
He served in all the campaigns on the Western Front, where he was shot seven times and gassed three times! In spite of his injuries he was patched up each time and sent back to the Front.
After the war John he returned to his old job in the paper mill and went on to become a councillor in Cambridge in the 1930s. He died in 1960 as a result of the cumulative effects of his injuries.
He was very proud of the fact that his two sons also served in the armed forces: Ken, in the Royal Navy, and Edward as an RAF medic.
Edward served for four years at the RAF convalescent hospital (now The Grange care home in Grange Lane Littleport).
My elder brother Chris and I carried on the family tradition by serving in the RAF during the time of the Cold War.
I had only just completed my training when I was seconded to ‘special duties’ with one other crew mate, a pilot. We kept watch over an aeroplane loaded with atomic weapons at ‘5 minutes readiness.’
Picture these two young men, keeping vigil in an empty hangar … awaiting the warning siren and the arrival of the rest of the aircrew (but of course, hoping it wouldn’t happen).
This period of solitude had a profound effect on me. Even today, I find it overwhelming to be in a noisy crowd of people.
It is terrible to see that we seem to have learned nothing from our past and could be heading into a very uncertain future.