Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Panther Soup

I went to the book launch of Panther Soup by Johnnie Gimlette last night. It's an interesting story of his meeting an American veteran, Put Flint, with whom he struck up a friendship and eventually persuaded to retrace his steps 60 years before in the Second World War when he'd been in the tank destroyers (the Panthers) who'd swept through France from Marseilles and ended up in Innsbruck. Put hadn't been back to Europe since then so it was very emotional for him to revisit those places in peace and to remember what had happened. They arrived in a Europe which was "smashed and sodden. In Germany over 3m homes had been lost, and another million in France. 60m Europeans had been uprooted or 10% of the population...Huge areas of the continent looked as if they'd been harrowed, or at least raked of life...Many German towns appeared to have been pulverised, and the commentators of the day often wondered whether Germany would ever support civilisation again."They were in Innsbruck when Eisenhower announced that the war in Europe was over. As Johnnie writes, "There was no fanfare and no church bells, just a deadening sense of relief...Some men got drunk, and a few let off their guns. But for most, they simply couldn't think of a gesture that properly reflected the enormity of the occasion, and so they let it pass...Even Eisenhower had struggled to find his euphoria. 'The route you have travelled is marked by the graves of former comrades...'"

6 Comments:

Blogger Eurodog said...

I see my 88 year old friend and her dog twice a week. The war is mentioned on a regular basis as if it were yesterday.

12:05 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

It left huge scars but that generation is now passing away so it's important to record anecdotes before they're lost. I still think you should write a book about your friend and her dog.

1:44 pm  
Blogger Eurodog said...

WW,
I will. It is getting more and more eccentric and surreal.

4:39 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I wonder where the title came from. I sense a film in the making here too.

8:49 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi Ellee - the title came from the nickname of the regiment and the mire that was then Europe ravaged by war.

8:27 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I would love to read that.

12:02 am  

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