9 September, 2016. 14:34
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
THOUGH HE COULDN’T BE happier that total war has been relegated to the history books of mankind, a 96-year-old retired Army Captain can’t help but wonder if his 26-year-old full-time stay-at-home grandson has it in him to thrust a bayonet into someone – something asked of the nation’s youth just 70 short years ago.
Derek Armstrong wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t mean to generalise today’s young people on the whole, just his grandson.
“At my granddaughter’s wedding last month, I asked him about his life and he gave me this shit about not being able to afford a house,” he said. “He can afford a house, just not where he thinks he deserves to live.”
“It just shits me a bit. I’m sure it’s not just me who thinks along the same line? Even my son’s generation has a bit better built than this one now. The threat of Vietnam hovered over my boy’s head and thank Christ his number never got called – but it could’ve, that’s the whole point,”
“We’ve all done some bad things in life that we regret. Have a bit too much to drink at a party and do something embarrassing or perhaps let that girl go you probably shouldn’t have. For me, I regret bayonetting so many Japanese teenagers when the war was basically over. It was early 1945 and we were mopping up behind the Americans through Borneo and whatnot. We didn’t want to do any more killing, but you know what the Japanese were like,” he explained.
“Sometimes, I look at my grandson and wonder if he has it in him to put a bloke in his sights and squeeze the trigger, or leap into a machine gun nest and bayonet a few Japs. It’s simple fight or flight, it was me or them. Between you and I, I don’t think he could.”
Mr Armstrong’s book, Generation Yousless is on sale November 1.