There must be thousands of tales that have been written and filmed about World war 2 , but I
would like to tell you about a personal one of mine.
It's the tale of my husband’s mandolin, it was a banjo mandolin, and from being a small boy
he taught himself after a few lessons from his dad. And you know, wherever he went it went
with him, well nearly everywhere, at school concerts, parties, on our picnics and even when
we went cycling in the cycle cub where incidentally was where we met.
However, to get to my real story. When war was declared he was 19 years old and he was
drafted into the RAF and we decided a little later to grab at life while we could and got
married on one of his 14 days pass.
Well, it just seemed natural his mandolin went with him in the RAF and was soon playing
for the boys when ever he had the time , and when ever the ENSA came to the camp he
would play in the interval. Soon he was drafted over seas and was in the North African
invasion, he was with a squadron that flew the small planes, Austers I believe was their
name, that was used to spot enemy positions etc, so he was quite near the front line a lot.
Some time after he took very ill and had to be left behind in the army hospital. He was there a
while and in the meantime the squadron moved on and some how his mandolin was left
behind and lost.
When he was better he was posted to another similar squadron and the boys heard he could
play, so they passed the hat around and got enough to get him another. Goodness only knows
how they managed that. And soon he was entertaining the boys again.
He travelled some miles, was in the Sicilian invasion then the Italian one and after a tiring
heavy time they were given a 48 hour pass and seeing Rome was taken, they were able to go
there , and while he and some friends were sitting by the famous Roman Fountain, he heard
his name being called,
" Lofty! Lofty", he heard and there running toward him was his old friends of his other
squadron. " Wow" they said "never dreamed we would see you again, we hoped and hoped
and here you are, and we have something that belongs to you". "What is it?" My husband
said. “Oh no. Come back to our billets and we will give you it”. When arriving at the billets
and the boys gave him... yes it was his mandolin, he just couldn't control his joy at finding his
old friend, the mandolin again. “Well?" his friend said. "What do you think about that? It has
been in the invasions, buried in mud, lost in the dunes, lost again and then we found it again.
So you better hang on tight to it from now on." Of course he did all the rest of the war, right
up north Italy, meeting new friends and playing his mandolin and incidentally another little
While playing in a little village square, called Sappada, a man came up and said to my
husband how much he enjoyed his playing and then invited him to his home, where he met a
good few of the mans friends, who were all musicians. As it turned out, this man was a
professor of music and most his friends were all players of different instruments. They hoped
one day my husband would return and visit but somehow we never did. However, my
husband was able to hang on to his mandolin for we still have it , battered case and all the
memories it holds.