Valerie Tyler has written this wonderful true story about her father.
Richard James Batterham . 1924-2008.
This is the most amazing true story about my father Richard James Batterham who was known to most as Rick.
Our dad joined the army when he was just eighteen. During W.W.2 he spent a lot of time in Italy and Sicily. The war had affected him badly and a few years after the war ended he suffered a nervous breakdown. We can never underestimate the hurt suffered by people in these situations of war. He told us many stories of the friends he’d lost and thought how miraculous it was that he had survived.
He spoke a lot of a young soldier he rescued in Senio in Italy. He always wondered if he’d survived. It was on Boxing day 1944 in the aftermath of a battle that dad heard the cries of a young man and despite his colleagues warning him that he would be putting his own life in danger to try and look for someone dad insisted that if someone may still be alive he couldn’t leave them. He climbed down the river bank and found a young soldier who was severely injured and whose leg was greatly damaged. Dad said it was nearly hanging off. He administered first aid to him and managed to get him over his shoulder and made the way back to base camp. He said it was further than he had remembered and the man was heavy. When he reached base the soldier asked dad’s name before passing out. He was the only survivor in his platoon. His life still hung on by a thread.
Dad left him in good hands and always wondered what had happened to him, whether he lived or died and often spoke of him. Then one day forty two years later it seemed a miracle happened. My parents lived near Wimbledon Common and used to love walking. They often walked down the long hill to Southfields, Wandsworth where there was their favourite greengrocers. Mum would chat a lot to Rose, the woman who ran it. One day Rose mentioned that they were going on holiday to Italy. She explained that her husband wanted to go back there and how he had lost his leg there in the war. It turned out to be the same place as dad had rescued the soldier. Further conversation verified that this was in fact the man dad had saved. He too had thought about the man who had saved his life and wondered if he would ever get the chance to thank him.
The man was James Hyatt, known as Jim and him and his wife Rose were due to celebrate their golden wedding with a family party and our parents were invited and dad was made the guest of honour. Jim and Rose had six children and many grandchildren. He explained to them that if it wasn’t for this man none of them would be here now. This was probably the only time I’d known my dad to cry. Not too long after we heard that Jim had died and we couldn’t help think about the strange coincidence that fate had brought them together again after not seeing each other for forty two years and both their questions were answered.
We can’t begin to imagine what life must have been like for these young men, many who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their country. May all of them and their bravery never be forgotten.
Discover what life in Faversham was like for a child during the second world war, by listening to Former Faversham Mayor, Andrews Osborne’s, VE Days recorded memories.
Marion Brown of the Memories of Faversham group has posted this fab picture of VE Day celebrations in Ospringe Street.
Linda Baldwin of Faversham displays this original photo outside the Queens Hall.
The placards say V J.
All from local streets. Names to be applied soon as people from the ‘Memories of Faversham ‘ site recall.
Thank you for being part of Faversham Virtual VE Day.
We would like to send out a extra ‘thank you’ to those who took apart in the singalong, to those who have shared their histories, poems and stories. Thank you for orchestrating, curating, speaking, photographing, cooking, videoing, encouraging, serving etc.