From Planet 225

by Meic Birtwistle

Following our invitation to pool ideas for strengthening Welsh internationalism after the EU referendum, Meic Birtwistle offers snapshots of past struggles against the Far Right in proposing how to form alliances against rising racist attacks and support for UKIP in the wake of the Leave campaign.

It was June 1944 and with his reconnaissance squadron leading a breakout from the beaches, my father drove his tank smack into a Nazi anti-tank gun shell just outside the village of Tully-Sur-Seulles in Normandy. Ironically this ambush probably saved his life, for a few days later, while with his wrecked vehicle in the beachhead workshop, his unit was cut to pieces by Tiger tanks in the defeat at Villiers Bocage. Many died in that place on that day – his regiment so depleted that it was forced to amalgamate.

This was one of the handful of stories he told as regards his personal war. On his death I found war-diaries from that time with their hastily scribbled notes. By cross-referencing them with regimental history, his terse sentences enabled me to imagine the bloody fighting his armoured unit saw as it fought its way across continental Europe to help crush Fascism. He had clearly not wanted to revisit that time. Those few short words were enough for his memory – too much.

And so when decades later in 1975 we discussed the referendum vote on Europe,

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