Hi from Maryland, USA. In May 1996 I had the pleasure of visiting the Lion Inn with a lovely woman, Ilsa, who owned and ran the inn with her late husband John for several years in the 60s and perhaps into the 70s. (Out of respect, I'll keep their surname private for now.) Our visit was memorable, as I was able to photograph Ilsa by the fireplace -- the site of a symbolic act which helped her move forward in her life. On 29 Feb 1968 she bundled up the love letters and memorabilia of her wartime fiance, RAF Flying Officer Bernard Clifton DFM, and burned them on the fire. Bernard was shot down, missing in action, over Rangoon, Burma on 29 Feb 1944 -- 24 years earlier to the day, along with my mum's 1st husband and 7 others. For all those ensuing years Ilsa had been unable to overcome the tragedy of his loss, which came so close to the completion of his second "tour of ops" as a bomber wireless operator. Their wedding date had been set for the upcoming May, on Ilsa's 21st birthday. Each Feb she grieved for her first love, even wondering if he was still alive but forgetful, through trauma, of his link to Ilsa. Finally, in 1968, after walking in on a crying Ilsa, John -- a devoted and loving husband -- suggested that she would never get over Bernard unless she destroyed the physical links to him. She agreed and bundled up all photos, telegrams, and such. Onto the fire they went -- the same fire as shown on your home page, to the left of the piano. What she did not realize for many years was that one of her daughters had secretly removed an undamaged photo before it burned and hid it away for over 25 years -- a formal portrait of Bernard in uniform taken soon after he received the Distinguished Flying Medal from the King at Buckingham Palace. (This daughter now wears the one other item which remains -- Bernard's engagement ring to Ilsa.) It was very moving for me to stand in front of this fireplace with Ilsa on a raw, damp May afternoon, feeling the soothing heat and realizing what occurred at this spot 28 years earlier. One day I hope to return to the Lion Inn. Regards to all from Matt.
This message has been edited by lionblakey on Apr 21, 2002 11:05 PM
Hi again from Maryland -- same town as the Sullivans, who posted a message recently. Excuse me for a moment while I throw a boot at a neighbor's barking dog. Hey, it's the Sullivans' dog! Nah...I don't really know them, but we live in the same town.
I just caught a typographical error made in the first line of my November message. My visit with Ilsa to the Lion Inn was in May 1996, not 1968. As correctly stated in my earlier message, however, 29 February 1968 was the date when Ilsa threw her letters and photos of her World War II fiance onto the fire -- at the urging of her long-suffering husband.