Who? I hear you cry. Well, Sydney Dowse
took part in the escape from Stalag Luft III in 1944 that was later immortalised in that mainstay of Christmas Day viewing, The Great Escape
A little while ago Thog posted a news story about a British soldier in Iraq who saved his friends by throwing himself on a live grenade. The force of the blast was absorbed by his rucksack and his body armour and he survived with a nosebleed.
I was thinking about that while I read Sydney Dowse's obit. There's an advert for a new season on Sky currently being screened. It talks about `heroes,' and accompanying it are clips from Saving Private Ryan
and a couple of other films, but also clips of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United footballers, for those of you scratching your heads) and I thought Sydney Dowse and that soldier in Iraq are heroes, not these overpaid sportsmen.
Jeremy Clarkson did a brilliant programme a couple of years ago about winners of the Victoria Cross, and threaded through it was the story of an officer who took part in Operation Market Garden - the `Bridge Too Far' operation. To hear it, this chap was more or less superhuman. At one point, seriously wounded, he was using a mortar as a handgun
. But it was all true, and he was awarded the VC and when he went home after the War he never spoke of it to his family - which included Clarkson's future wife - who only found out about it after he died.
I do wonder when the word `hero' became so debased that it's used to describe someone like this and - with a perfectly straight face - a footballer.