ON September 21 2017, Bill Speakman will raise a glass with fellow friends, some wearing scarlet and others blue uniforms, nicknamed the scarlet and blues, they are all colleagues at the Royal Chelsea hospital and home for military pensioners in London, the toast will be happy birthday Bill, celebrate Bill’s 90th Birthday.
So who is Bill Speakman? You may well ask, Bill was born in Altrincham Cheshire on September 21 1927.
In 1945, Bill Speakman joined the Black Watch, and served in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong. Five years after Bill joined, North Korea lead by Kim Ill Sung attacked Seoul, South Korea on June 25 1950. Bill, then a private had been shipped out to join in an allied forces defence of the Southern Korean Peninsula from the grandfather of the present despot leader Kim Jung Un.
Private Bill Speakman, – Big Bill as he is known – is a war hero, his heroism was emblazoned all over the newspapers and radio, for his gallantry and for his bravery. Speakman had the VC pinned onto his chest after heroically defending his colleagues, by a young Queen Elizabeth, this was the first time the Queen was to present the Victoria Cross.
I was just a lad of twelve and had been taken to the cinema (or flicks as we called them in those days) by my mother, in those days they had two films and in between the films they showed Pathé News. It was always in black and white, and better than News at 10 now.
The whole 30 minutes segment on Pathé was dedicated to the towering figure of Bill Speakman who was returning from Korea. Bill was a big man 6 feet 6 inches in his stocking feet and built like a powerful front row forward.
Speakman’s heroic deeds made him famous, as after being injured in the leg during a 15 hour mortar barrage attack from Chinese artillery fire that engulfed his colleagues of the King’s own Scottish borderers on the afternoon of November 4 1951, this prior to a human wave of Chinese infantry who overran the Borderers position, in
his own words Bill Speakman said “It was hand to hand; there was not even time to pull back the bolt on my rifle”.
On his own initiative Private Speakman repeatedly counter charged the enemy hurling dozens of grenades ‘I picked up handfuls of grenades and as it was a freezing cold November. I pulled the pins and tossed them, they bounced all over the place causing a lot of damage, when I ran out of grenades I started to pick up beer bottles and throw them”.
A citation to Bill Speakmans action says, During the assault, Private Speakman was hit in the leg, however he held back the enemy giving time for injured Borderers to be evacuated.
Bill Speakman had joined the Black Watch, and served in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong before joining the fighting in Korea.
“His bravery, without a second thought of his own life being in danger, he beat off the attack by the Chinese almost with his bare hands” said colleagues at the time.
Later Bill sold his Victoria Cross to a highly prized medal to a collector, and gave a replica of the medal and nine other medals to the South Korea’s Minister of Patriots and veteran affairs Pak Sung- Choon, during a visit with other veterans from the Korean war.
His final wish is to have his ashes sprinkled over South Korea, “As it is a country that I love, so deeply”.
So, what is happening at the moment between North Korea and the rest of the countries of the world who have voiced their displeasure of Kim Jung Un rocket tests and his latest testing of what has been described as an H-bomb.
If you are like me are biting you’re nails and wondering when the radio that you are listening to, or TV programme that you are watching is going to be interrupted by a News flash announcing the outbreak of a war between North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and the U.S.A.
As the tension mounted with Kim Jung Un and Donald Trump hurling schoolboy taunts at each other, and childlike jibes such as, I’ve got a bigger stick than you, or sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me, the Billy Bunters of this playground fiasco must be taken to the headmaster, resulting in both the snotty nosed kids being given some whacks on the backside with a cane.
Who is capable of this act? Of calming the situation, the UN? Not a chance, The United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has said “He (Kim Jung Un) is begging for war, and that Washington patience with him is running out”.
The rest of the worlds Ambassadors have not been much help in making sanctions stick against North Korea, than the bunch of idiots that are running the E.U. even Putin has said “it is time to stop talking, as whatever sanctions you impose on North Korea will not change their destiny” (in so many words), as Kim Jung Un threatens further tests this is according to his North Korean UN Ambassador, who said in the UN “You can expect further more packages of gifts”.
China are the main problem although they are unhappy with what Kim Jung Un is doing, they did support North Korea during the early 50’s by fighting alongside Kim’s Grandfather, and are slightly reluctant to enforce more sanctions.
I’m pleased to say that things have so far remained a little quiet but is this the peace before the storm, is Kim planning something stupid? He has threatened to launch some rockets towards the US base military base on the island of Guam, if he did this Donald Trump, who has been equally quiet of recent, will have no alternative but to retaliate.
I do hope that Big Bill Speakman enjoys his glass of bubbly and celebrates his 90th birthday in peace and quiet, he was a hero to a 12-year-old boy, me, after all if ever a person deserves peace and quiet, Victoria Cross hero Bill Speakman does.