Doubly Thankful villages, England
By Darren Staples
If I was expecting flags and bunting, I was wrong.
The Doubly Thankful villages – the 13 villages in England and one in Wales where every soldier, sailor, airman and WAAF who served in World Wars One and Two came home alive – do not make a song and dance about the past.
On Remembrance Sunday, they have no war memorial on which to lay a wreath of poppies.
Instead, tucked away inside their churches you will sometimes find polished brass plaques giving grateful thanks for the life of the survivors, a seemingly subdued remembrance that this community was one of the ‘lucky’ ones – one that beat the odds.
And what odds they were. I drove 4,000 miles from Flixborough in Lincolnshire to Herbrandston, Pembrokeshire and Herodsfoot, Cornwall and all places in between to shoot this feature. And as the miles clocked up I slowly began to understand the reality of being a ‘doubly thankful’ village.
For those who came marching home – and for their loved ones – this was muted celebration. How could it be anything else? They had survived horrors that many of them would never speak about. But so many young men and women had not.