English-Speaking Union 1066 (Hastings) branch

AT our May meeting we remembered the First World War.

Members brought along memorabilia, mainly of a family nature. Dave Syrett, a specialist collector, had much to display, including a splendidly noisy bugle. He also set our feet tapping (many of us would have fallen over had we tried to get up and dance) to period music on 78-rpm records played on a wind-up gramophone.

Also at this meeting, Rupert Litherland and Bridget Corry introduced a book by their late father, Sydney Litherland, The Junak King, just published. This is an account of his experiences as an Other Rank (OR - he was a Lance-Corporal) German prisoner of war (PoW).

Most books about PoWs are written by or about officers. It is unusual to find one written by an OR. Unlike officers, ORs were used as forced labour, often in a distinctly unpleasant way. Sydney completed the book shortly before he died. ‘Junak’ is the brand-name of the cheap Polish cigarettes given to the PoWs. Sydney, a non-smoker, hoarded his ration then used the fags as ‘cash’ when he needed a favour. He became known as Lord Junak.

Brenda Wilson excelled herself providing cakes and pastries cooked to First World War recipes. The strange, rather bland, taste made us realise how people then had to make do with very little.

Our next meeting on June 13 is our AGM and a lunch at Cooden Beach Golf Club. Baroness Fookes, our president, will be our speaker. Details M.Plumbe@BTInternet.com or 01424 713737.