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Doreen Stone, who lived at the Cricketers Arms, Beeston, 1944

I had not enjoyed the party, everything about it seemed unreal. People were drinking too much and talking too loud, trying to forget the morrow and blot out all thoughts of war. The room had been thick with smoke and with that controlled fear that hides behind the laughter.

The jeeps came for the soldiers early. They had to be in camp by 9 o’clock, so I wished them well and waved as they went upon their way. They were men going to war and I was the girl by the garden gate.

Larry was one of the last to come out and I held out my hand and lifted my head for the brotherly kiss he always gave me. It was that kind of relationship, although we had been friends for a year or so, there was no deeper feeling between us; we liked each that was all. So it came as a surprise when he pushed my hand aside and put his arms around me. His grip was like a vice.

I could not even struggle, though at that moment I do not think I wanted to. I did not get the kiss I expected. It was not the embrace of a brother. I could hardly breath and there followed a brief explosion of passion that left me confused and bruised.

Then he jumped into the jeep, our fingers met, I saw tears in his eyes.

The next day the men did not come to the pub, or the next day. We listened to every news bulletin on the wireless.

It was now late September. Things were not going well. Many had perished and I was still worried and wondering why Larry had kissed me like that.

It is over 60 years since they dropped into Holland. I am old now and to me Larry is no longer a man who went war, but a boy I knew who died one day when he trod upon a mine.

Now I know why he kissed me with such passion and such pain. He was saying goodbye to his parents for the very last time, to the sweetheart he had yet to meet and the wife he would never know.

And the tears he shed at our parting were not for me but for his children, forever unborn.

He was a man who knew he was doomed and I was the girl by the gate.

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