• John Woodman

Europe On The Brink

Not far away from heritage trams is the sobering reality of a world facing conflict on a scale not previously seen - as Mr Putin has slyly reminded us in a recent media post. The nuances of which of Blackpool's vintage trams appearing on the seafront may well fascinate finite number of cognoscenti faithfully recording such events, are dwarfed by what is going on to the east of Poland.


Columns of military hardware are converging on the border districts of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and into the diminutive Baltic states countries now fearful of Kremlin machinations. British armour has just joined formations flown east from the United States, together with those arriving by road and rail from Canada, France, Germany, the Benelux countries. NATO Battle Groups have been formed in the Baltic States, with each led by one of the principal military contingents - UK armour and infantry being assigned to Estonia.


While 24/7 media attention is rightfully focussed on Ukraine's popular resistance to invasion by Russian forces (aided and abetted by Belorussia) with blow by blow reporting along the many points of conflict throughout that beleaguered nation; just off camera is the constantly increasing build up of NATO forces by land sea and air to bolster the borders of eastern and central Europe . Distressing scenes of huge lines of fleeing families; thousands heading west to the safety of EU countries under the protective shield of NATO forces which extend to USAF strategic air strength - some of which has just transferred to UK air bases. As we fuss about the merits of this or that tram extension or restoration - in the real world events of momentous significance are taking place - triggered by irrational decisions made in Moscow by the small cadre of embittered elites.


The fall of another democratic state in central Europe in 1938 heralded the onset of a global war. The fall of Ukraine into the grip of yet further tyranny; this time engineered solely on the shoulders Vladimir Putin, is now altering the axis of the entire world. All of the norms of life we know have already been fractured in ways it is hard to fully comprehend at this time. Soaring gas and energy prices are just the beginning for UK households and business. Pity the thousands of families now fleeing the Ukraine with only the clothes on their back and a grab bag of possessions needing refuge in a foreign country. A pity that Blackpool with its many hotels couldn't find its way to requisitioning rooms and providing shelter in similar fashion to the urgent decisions taken in 1939 and 1940. Blackpool Church Street at Raikes Parade and the car park for teaching staff at Blackpool Grammar School (now the Salvation Army) - a Standard pass as Corporation workmen pause for the photographer - with excavation of a new Air Raid Shelter. Image : John Woodman Archive


History is destined to repeat itself.



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