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Give This Woman Back Her Son

Discussion in 'History of Britain during World War II' started by Jim, May 13, 2012.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    This story made the news headlines in September 1942 ... The Title of "Give This Woman Back Her Son" went to an appeal to the War Office, stating the the farmer was blind and that the farm was in ruins, yet his son was kept in the Army ...

    When Sir James Grigg arrives at his Whitehall office tomorrow the first thing he should do is to send for the dossier about the Browns, Ernest, Hannah and Leslie, of Ormesby St. Michael, near Great Yarmouth.

    The dossier does not contain blueprints on how to win the war. Neither is It a learned treatise on the tactics of mechanised warfare." It contains nothing about guns, panzer divisions and tanks. It is just a collection of buff forms, letters in an elderly woman's handwriting. But it will tell him of a man taken off a supremely important war job; of a farm going to ruin; of an old couple driven off their land. With a stroke of his fountain pen, Sir James can help Britain's war effort and remove an Injustice to a blind old man. For war is not merely a question of machines. In the end it is the ordinary men and women who fight that count. Their problems too must be considered.

    Sir James has already proved that, and only the other day when he brought back by air a soldier from Libya whose wife was seriously ill. He knew what those human, sympathetic gestures mean to this nation. But the case of the Browns is something more than that.

    Seventeen years ago the Browns experienced a great crisis. Ernest Brown lost his sight. The responsibility of maintaining the family holding fell on the shoulders of a 13-year-old schoolboy, their son Leslie.

    They managed to persuade the local education authority to let Leslie leave school before he was 14 to help his family. He started work on the farm. Since that day 17 years ago Leslie Brown has devoted his whole life to his father and mother. Said his mother: "Leslie set his life apart from other people for us. He never married, nor is he likely to. When the Army took him away from us we were helpless."
    Eleven months ago their son was taken away from his job of running his blind father's smallholding to join the Army. That day, blind, 64-year-old Ernest Brown and his grey-haired wife, Hannah, lost their breadwinner. It was a loss that could not be measured in terms of hard cash. It was the country's loss, too. Within the short space of months a prosperous, efficiently run smallholding became a wilderness of weeds and poorly-nourished crops. Leslie was not there to grow Britain's food. He is a wizard with a plough and a reaper, but he has to learn to use a rifle while food goes to waste.

    Mr Ernest and Hannah Brown


    They have, therefore, decided to cultivate the land themselves. A skilled land worker will be taken from a nearby farm and given charge of Mr. Brown's 8½ acres. The land will be transferred on October 11.

    To the Browns this is sheer madness. Mrs. Brown told the Sunday Pictorial. For eleven months we have been trying to get our son back from the Army to do his real job, to grow food for his country. But tile Army refuse to release him. Now they are going to send a stranger to do the work he should be doing. It Is madness."

    Mrs. Brown plans to leave her cottage before the War Agriculture Committee take over her land. She put it like this: “Every day for nine years I have watched my son at work in the fields from my kitchen window. I could not endure the torture of seeing another man, a stranger, working the land my son rightfully owns."
    It would be a good thing If those War Office officials who refused to grant Leslie Brown's release could spend a day at his parents' farm now.

    They might catch sight of Leslie's blind father, bent and crippled, trying to trim hedges with a sickle. In the evening they would see Mrs. Brown working until dusk in the fields, desperately trying to save the home and land they had all worked so hard to get. Perhaps the unploughed fields behind the cottage and the rusting tools in the barns would move them.

    But Whitehall is so far away. It is a pity. . . .

    If they took the trouble to pay Mrs. Brown a visit she would show them the little buil-coloured book she keeps in the top drawer of her dresser cupboard. It is her mortgage .payment book. They would see that the Browns were not itinerant land squatters. For the last nine years they have paid £9 11s. 6d a quarter to their building society. They took the business of buying and cultivating land seriously.

    Doubtless if Mrs. Brown and her son had been high-powered civil servants they could have filled in all the forms correctly, and written the right sort of letters, and won exemption. Perhaps they made mistakes in their applications. But surely the broad facts should be enough to show that this case demanded closer investigation, not merely in the parents' interests, but in the interests of Britain.

    We are sure that there is not one officer in the Services who would have turned a deaf ear to Mrs. Brown's plea if they had had known the full facts.

    Send Leslie Brown back to his smallholding, Sir James to do the job he was born to. You Are The Only Man In Britain Who Can Make This Broken, Ruined Family Happy Again, And Restore Their Fields To Prosperity For Britain.

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