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Queen’s death is reminder of disappearing WWII generation

LONDON — The long goodbye for Queen Elizabeth II is a reminder of a broader truth playing out with little fanfare across Britain: The nation is bidding farewell to the men and women who fought the country’s battles during World War II.

The queen, who served as a mechanic and truck driver in the last months of the war, was a tangible link to the sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines and others who signed up to do their bit in a war that killed 384,000 service personnel and 70,000 British civilians.

But like the queen, even the youngest veterans of the war are now nearing their 100th birthdays, and a steady stream of obituaries tells the story of a disappearing generation.

“It’s extraordinary how that sense of the passing of time is felt very keenly at the moment,″ said Charles Byrne, director general of the Royal British Legion, the nation’s largest armed services charity.

“The queen was a personification of that generation … and with her passing, it just drives home the sense that time is moving relentlessly, as it does.”

That loss is, perhaps, felt more widely in the United Kingdom than a country like the United States, because the U.K.’s very existence was threatened during the war. Bombs fell on cities from London to Belfast, women were conscripted into war work and wartime rationing didn’t end until 1954.

Elizabeth, who famously saved ration coupons to make her wedding dress in 1947, led a ceremony of remembrance for all the nation’s fallen service personnel each year on the anniversary of the end of World War I.

“She is the epitome of that sense of service and stoic contribution,″ Byrne said. “And that is treasured more than ever.”

British authorities don’t know exactly how many World War II veterans are left because the nation’s census takers didn’t track military service until last year. Those figures are due to be released next month.

The Royal Air Force says it knows of only one surviving Battle of Britain pilot, the men Winston Churchill immortalized as “the few” who helped turn the tide of the war. Group Captain John Hemingway celebrated his 103rd birthday in July.

But the number of survivors is dwindling.

Among those who died this year were Henriette Hanotte, who ferried downed Allied pilots across the French border as they made their way home. And Harry Billinge, who was just 18 when he joined the first wave of troops to land on Gold Beach in Normandy on D-Day, as well as Douglas Newham, who survived 60 bombing raids as a Royal Air Force navigator, but was haunted by those who didn’t return.

It was a time of shared sacrifice. Then-Princess Elizabeth, like many teenagers, had to persuade her father to let her join the army in 1945.

When Elizabeth turned 18, King George VI exempted her from mandatory military service because he said her training as the heir to the throne took precedence over the wartime need for manpower.

But the princess, who began her war work at 14 with a broadcast to displaced children and later tended a vegetable garden as part of the government’s “Dig for Victory” program, got her way.

She enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in February 1945 and trained to become a military truck driver and mechanic. The ATS was the largest of the auxiliary services deploying women to non-combat rolls such as clerks, drivers and dispatch riders to free up men for front line duties.

The first female member of the royal family to serve in the armed forces, Elizabeth was promoted to honorary junior commander, the equivalent of an army captain, after completing five months of training. But the war ended before she could be assigned to active duty.

On May 8, 1945, Princess Elizabeth appeared in uniform on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as the royal family greeted the crowds celebrating Germany’s surrender. That night, she and her sister, Princess Margaret, slipped out of the palace to take part in the festivities.

“We cheered the king and queen on the balcony and then walked miles through the streets,” she later recalled. “I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”

Many of those who took part in that joy are now gone.

Among them is Frank Baugh, a Royal Marine who helped guide a landing craft to Sword Beach during the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings. He later campaigned for a memorial to be built to commemorate the 22,442 men and women who died under British command during the Battle of Normandy.

A few months before his death in June at 98, Baugh toured the British Normandy Memorial, which overlooks the beach where he fought.

“I would like to see children coming all of the time,″ he said. “Because they’re the people we need to tell what’s happened, and those lads that didn’t get back — to remember them.”

———

Follow all AP stories on Queen Elizabeth II’s death at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.

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With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

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Haiti reports cholera deaths for first time in 3 years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s government on Sunday announced that at least eight people have died from cholera, raising concerns about another potentially catastrophic epidemic like the one that broke out a decade ago and killed nearly 10,000 people.

The cases – the first cholera deaths reported in three years – came in a community called Dekayet in southern Port-au-Prince and in the gang-controlled seaside slum of Cite de Soleil, where thousands of people live in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

“Cholera is something that can spread very, very quickly,” warned Laure Adrien, director general of Haiti’s health ministry.

Food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration that can be deadly.

The United Nations said in a statement that it is working with Haiti’s government to “mount an emergency response to this potential outbreak,” stressing that health teams need to be guaranteed safe access to areas where cases have been reported.

The deaths come as a lack of fuel and ongoing protests shut down the availability of basic services across Haiti, including medical care and clean water, which is key to helping fight cholera and keep patients alive.

Haiti’s most powerful gang continues to control the entrance to a main fuel terminal in the capital of Port-au-Prince, leading to a lack of fuel amid soaring prices that have unleashed widespread protests that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.

The absence of fuel and increasing number of roadblocks have prevented water trucks from visiting neighborhoods to provide potable water to those who can afford it. It also has prompted some companies to temporarily shut down operations.

On Sunday, Caribbean Bottling Company said it could no longer produce or distribute potable water because its diesel reserves were “completely depleted,” adding that the lack of such a vital resource would affect “all sectors of society.”

Adrien said health officials were trying to visit communities where cholera has been reported, but that his agency, too, has been affected by a lack of fuel as he called on people blocking the gas terminal and organizing protests to “have a conscience.”

“This is a real problem,” he said of how the country has virtually been paralyzed. “We’re hoping this will not spread.”

Adrien noted that all those who died were unable to reach a hospital in time.

Haiti Health Minister Alex Larsen said people have a right to protest but asked Haitians to allow potable water supplies into neighborhoods that have been cut off by roadblocks and protests.

“Water has not been in these areas for a long time, and people are not drinking treated water,” he said, adding that cholera cases could spike again. “We ask people who can afford it to add a little chlorine to the water.”

Haiti’s last cholera epidemic sickened more than 850,000 people in a country of more than 11 million, marking one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the preventable disease in recent history.

United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage. The U.N. has since acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and that is has not done enough to help fight it, but it has not specifically said it introduced the disease.

Haiti would have been declared cholera-free by the World Health Organization only after reaching three consecutive years with no new cases.

———

Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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‘Dilemma for the Russians’ after surrendering key Ukraine city | Russia-Ukraine war News

The recapture of Lyman city in the east – in territory recently annexed by Moscow – raises questions about how Russia can hold surrounding areas with supply routes severed.

Questions about Russia’s faltering military operation in Ukraine continue to be raised as Kyiv announced it was in full control of the key eastern city of Lyman after Moscow’s troops pulled back.

It is Kyiv’s most significant battlefield gain in weeks, providing a potential staging post for increased attacks to the east while heaping further pressure on the Kremlin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Sunday that his forces had taken over Lyman after encircling it the day before.

“As of 12:30pm (09:30 GMT) Lyman is cleared fully. Thank you to our militaries, our warriors,” he said in a video address.

Russia’s military did not comment on Lyman on Sunday after announcing the previous day it was withdrawing its forces there to move to “more favourable positions”.

‘Sort of a dilemma’

The loss of Lyman is a significant blow to Russian forces, who have used the city for months as a crucial logistics and rail hub in the Donetsk region to move military equipment, troops, and other necessary supplies.

“Without those routes, it will be more difficult so it presents a sort of a dilemma for the Russians going forward,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

Lyman, which Ukraine recaptured by encircling Russian troops, is in the Donetsk region near the border with the Luhansk region. These are two of the four regions or oblasts that Russia annexed on Friday after people there voted in referendums, which Ukraine and the West called illegitimate.

The Institute for the Study of War, a United States-based think-tank, said the fall of Lyman suggested Russia was “deprioritizing defending Luhansk” to hold occupied territory in southern Ukraine. 

“Ukrainian and Russian sources consistently indicate that Russian forces continued to reinforce Russian positions in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts, despite the recent collapse of the Kharkiv-Izyum front and even as the Russian positions around Lyman collapsed,” it said

‘Courage, bravery, skills’

In a daily intelligence briefing on Sunday, the United Kingdom’s military described the recapture of Lyman as a “significant political setback” for Moscow. Taking the city paves the way for Ukrainian troops to potentially push farther into Russian-occupied territory.

Ukraine’s capture of a city within territory of President Vladimir Putin’s declared annexation demonstrates that Ukrainians are able to push back Russian forces, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.

“We have seen that they have been able to take a new town, Lyman, and that demonstrates that the Ukrainians are making progress, are able to push back the Russian forces because of the courage, because of their bravery, their skills, but of course also because of the advanced weapons that the United States and other allies are providing,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with American broadcaster NBC.

Ukrainian forces have retaken swaths of territory, notably in the northeast around Kharkiv, in a counteroffensive in recent weeks that has embarrassed the Kremlin and prompted rare domestic criticism of Putin’s war.

A pomp-filled Kremlin annexation ceremony on Friday has failed to stem a wave of criticism within Russia of how its “special military operation” is being handled.

Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region, on Saturday called for a change of strategy “right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons”.

Other hawkish Russian figures criticised Russian generals and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on social media for overseeing the setbacks, but stopped short of attacking Putin.

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