I was born on dd/mm/yyyy in a British military hospital in Germany. I am a pads brat, and proud of the fact.
The army wife giving birth before my mother died during childbirth. I did not know that fact until ten years ago, when I was living near Oxford and planning a visit to Germany. My dad asked me to do him a big favour and visit the grave of the mother in question, which, some months later I did. It was a gloriously sunny day. The Rheindahlen Military Cemetery, where she was buried, was billiard-table green and very peacefully quiet.
Two thoughts occurred to me as I stood at the lady’s grave. Her name is Margaret.
- When had anyone last been to see her grave?
- The Angel of Death could have taken me, but chose to take Margaret instead. Even on my darkest days, I have reminded myself of that fact. There has to be a reason why I was allowed to live.
On Facebook among the anti-Trump, “what I am having for lunch” and cute animal photos, I recently saw some posts from two army wives regarding the Rheindahlen Military Cemetery. Tragically, these two ladies had lost babies in the same hospital where I was born. After making enquiries of various contacts that I know, I am intending to visit the cemetery in the next few days to visit the graves of the babies buried there, as well as to take photos and video footage to share with the mothers of these babies. As a single man with no offspring, I can only imagine the pain these mothers will have gone through, when the Army and society in general were much more “stiff upper lip” than nowadays. Since those first two army wives messaged me, I have received two or three other requests to visit other babies’ graves.
It is my humble duty and privilege to be living close enough to the cemetery for me to pay a visit. Door to door: about 90 minutes. I feel it is the least I can do for my fellow pads brats and families, to pay my respects and say a prayer by their babies’ graves.
Finally… Some years ago, I remember a story about an army wife wanting to have her daughter’s remains repatriated some years after her burial back to England, where her parents were now living. In preparation for the planned move, the mother came over to the grave at Rheindahlen Military Cemetery. Standing by her daughter’s grave situated among the dozens of other babies’ graves, she told her husband:
No. Let’s leave her here, so she can carry on playing with all her friends here. They’d miss her terribly.
Have a peaceful day, won’t you!