About Me

My photo
Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

F is for FREDDIE

He sits on his bench in his overcoat, cloth cap pulled slightly down, gazing out to sea.  His walking stick is loosely held in his left hand, his right arm draped casually over the back of the bench.  It looks like a favourite spot along Scarborough’s North Bay.
This is an astonishing, giant sculpture in rusting steel.  It has a kind of serenity and, up close, the texture of the steel is amazing.  Even without the title, this would be an arresting piece of art.  It is based on a former miner from County Durham who, as a soldier shortly before his 24th birthday, was one of the first allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in April 1945.  They found more than 60,000 prisoners, most of them seriously ill, and thousands of unburied corpses.  Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers represents ordinary people pulled out of ordinary lives because of war, who involuntarily experienced extraordinary things and whose lives were profoundly affected as a consequence.  The inscription on the sculpture’s plaque says:
“They said for king and country,
We should do as we were bid,
They said old soldiers never die
But plenty young ones did.”
 Freddie Gilroy died in 2008.  But the story doesn’t end there.  The artist, Ray Lonsdale, loaned the sculpture to the town for a month, but local resident Jakki Willby began a campaign to keep it in Scarborough.  Out of the blue, local pensioner Maureen Robinson donated the £50,000 needed – and Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers is now a permanent feature on North Bay.

While I was in Scarborough with my dear friend Jill, she showed me the sculpture and I was fascinated.  Then we looked at each other, giggled, and took each other's photo in the crook of Freddie's arm.  It wasn't until I returned home that I looked up his story and feel a bit foolish for taking the sculpture so lightly and acting like a frivolous teenager.  But here we are to show you the perspective of the sculpture's size!  I'm 5' 6 1/2" tall and Jill is about 5' 9" so you can see just how huge this fantastic sculpture is.  It's bigger than life, just like Freddie was when he took part in freeing all those prisoners from Bergen-Belsen in 1945.
 

With fervent thanks to our fancy "scarecrow-making" Denise Nesbitt, the creator of ABC Wednesday, and to our faithful servant Roger who administrates ABCW with the assistance of a fantastic team of fellow contributors.

19 comments:

Trubes said...

How FANCIFUL,
My Daddy was called FREDDIE (FREDERIC) and our grandson is called Freddie after dear old Pa.
I can't imagine the horror that the poor guy and his comrades must have suffered....
I truly feel all the hierhiery and politicians who instigate futile wars should be put in a large desert and made it to fight it out amongst themselves...
Probably a rather dim idea... Bring back Culloden or even Hastings..
Great Pictures Leslie xxx

Love n hugs Di.xx
ABCW team x

Photo Cache said...

Cool souvenir photos.

My ABC WEDNESDAY

photowannabe said...

This is really amazing. In looking at the first photo, I had no idea how large the statue truly is.
I think the story behind the sculpture is fascinating and I am so grateful for Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Norma Ruttan said...

You didn't intend any disrespect, I'm sure. I would have never guessed that the sculpture was so huge, so thanks for sitting by it. Fascinating bit of history!

Joy said...

Yes half inches are most important, especially when measuring up to a giant sculpture. Now I'm wondering if it was as easy to get up on the bench as it was to get down. Its a thought provoking memorial, and also one to be enjoyed.

jeannettestgermain said...

Bigger than life! A thoughtful tribute! Have a great week Leslie!

Hildred said...

Thanks for sharing this Leslie, - a tribute! I, too, am curious as to how you got up on the bench!!!!

Indrani said...

Cool! Great to know! :)
Happy ABCW!

Shooting Parrots said...

I hadn't realised just how big Freddie was until I scrolled down the page - no wonder he cost £50k!

Melody Steenkamp said...

Wow how surprisingly tall it is.... at first glance I didn't notice until the latest photo's came along...

Thank to this post of you, I know am stuck with Simon & Garfunkel in my head ;-)

Have a nice ABC-W-day / – week
♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)
http://melodymusic.nl/19-f/

Reader Wil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reader Wil said...

I can't imagine what Freddie must have felt all his live after having been in Bergen Belzen when the allied armies entered the camp. I saw the photos and video and I couldn't stop crying. If you ask me:"Is there a hell?", my answer is:" Yes , absolutely".
Thanks for sharing these photos.
My first comment bristles with mistakes,sorry!

Lea said...

What a wonderful sculpture!

Ann said...

You certainly put the sculpture into perspective when you took a seat with him. The poem is so sobering!! What a colossal tragedy what went on with the people.
Ann

Roger Owen Green said...

great poem - those quick to rush to war are too often the ones who don't understand the cost.


ROG, ABCW

ellen b said...

A fabulous story and what a huge sculpture! Yikes!

Amit Agarwal said...

Great tribute!
Nice to know about him..

Liz Hinds said...

Wow! The first photo is so misleading: you'd think it was a normal-sized seat and man. But what a great sculpture.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Freddies huge. That Maureen woman is so generous.