Nov. 11 brings somber memories for vet

Sherry Martell
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Nov. 11 brings somber memories for vet

Malagash - Cold November rain brings with it a flood of memories for men and women who served their country during the Second World War.

Veteran Charlie Farrow said the month is a somber time as he reflects on the loss of comrades from war time to present.

This time of year, its depressing, said Farrow.

You think of the ones youve lost over there and each year there are fewer and fewer that survive.

At age 20 in Dec. 1939, Farrow left his job at the Malagash Salt Mine and boarded a ship to Europe where he served with the Royal Canadian Engineers as an explosives expert, until he was sent home in 1943 to receive treatment for a bleeding ulcer.

Soon after arriving in England he quickly learned about the hardships and tragedies of war, surviving horrible weather conditions, working day and night while carrying out duties like replacing bombed bridges and roads under constant enemy attacks.

"One of the worst experiences was when I was in London and the Germans were coming 24 hours a day, seeing people killed and buried in the debris," said the veteran.

Scottish native Annabel Mazur was living with a family in France in 1939, a prerequisite to completing a teaching degree at Aberdeen University, when word of the imminent German invasion spread like fire through the countryside.

"My parents were getting panicked sending me telegrams telling me to get out of there as fast as I could," said Mazur.

Soon after arriving safely home the young woman of 20 realized all her school friends were signing up to serve their country so she followed suit.

She said after weeks of training at, "the most miserable place you could ever imagine," wading through mud, and completing basic training that included being gassed in a chamber so they would know what to expect, she was sent to northern Scotland to train as a high- speed wireless communications operator.

Two months later she arrived in London and served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service attached to the Royal Corps of Signals in a bunker deep underground until the end of the war.

"I was sent right into the heart of London to the No. 1 war office of signals," she said.

"Communication was at the heart of the war. Everything went through us."

For more than five years she worked in the cramped bunker with poor air quality sitting at a desk waiting to receive incoming messages from all over Europe.

Mazur lost several young friends during the war and her brother five weeks before the conflict ended, as he flew his Allied plane over France.

She said the feelings of loss have lasted a lifetime and are remembered full force each time a solider is killed in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan .

"It affects me still today. It breaks my heart when our boys get killed," said Mazur.

"Deep down there is still something in me that has never been cured."

Organizations: Malagash Salt Mine, Aberdeen University, Auxiliary Territorial Service Royal Corps of Signals

Geographic location: London, Europe, France England Northern Scotland Afghanistan

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