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Sunday, 19 August 2007

It all began with Dien Bien Phu. Memories of Vietnam

I have just been writing up another blog I do on my schooling,
I noted in it my old history teacher, a Mr Hague. He had a great interest in France and all things French. I noticed on the web that he had died not so long ago. If I recollect he had been an officer in the Royal Artillery during the war and had served with the Eighth Army in North Africa. I think he was seconded to the Free Polish forces.
It was he who had gone charging around the school bursting into the classrooms, portable radio in his hand, crying out that Dien Bien Phu had fallen and most indirectly set me off on a route that eventually led me to Vietnam.
I think there was in me this attraction for the East, for far away places, for the romance of adventure and travel. It was in the days long before mass tourism, before any kind of tourism in fact. A time when young men wishing to see the world had a choice between the army and the navy. Oh what a different time it was.
Mr Hague is on my list of men I most respected.

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