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Grandparent's Tales of the War

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Piron, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. MontE

    MontE Member

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    Most of my grandparents passed away before I was old enough to ask them these questions and before I had an interest in History. i urge all of you who still have living grand parents to ask these questions so you can pass down these stories to your children and grand children.

    Here are three tidbits of what I do remember being told, not much but I would like to share. These are off three different people in three different parts of the world all affected by the huge struggle:

    Constance Vera Steel (my Grandmother) Britain in the Blitz

    She told me stories about living in Britain as a teenager during the Blitz and the war years. About hidding under a kitchen table and listening to the speaches of Winston Churchill during constant air raids. Always fearing death from the sky and the comming of the Hun invader from across the channel. Being to young to realy understand the politics and scale of the struggle but vividly remembering the time a dootle bug narowly missed her house! Making do and making ends meet as supplies and goods were always scarce and the din of war always near.

    Anthony Neal Blowers (my Grandfather) East Africa and the Battle of the Atlantic

    My Grandad didnt speak much about the war, he was a young man from Kenya (then a British Colony) who had joined the merchant marine. Sailing on ships along the East African coast from South Africa to Egypt bringing supplies and material to the British armies of North Africa.. and later sailing in the Atlantic, bringing supplies to Britian under seige. Always on the look out for enemy subs and a real fear of torpedos (both Jap and Hun). He once told me how he watched a ship go down in his convoy and felt helpless as his ship steamed away.

    He didn't speak much about the war, as may merchant marines like him, their tales are largley forgoten as they died in record numbers but did not "serve" in a military outfit.

    Timothy Timleck (my Grandfather) Canadian Division: Western Europe

    My Grandfather served with the Canadian army after D-Day. Im not sure which Reg as I was to young to ask. He said he did not land on D-day but was brought in later for the push through the Neatherlands. He saw alot of grim fighting and had many friends lost to battle. Three stories linger in my mind that I remember him telling me as a child:

    1) While taking a Train station (never found out where) his unit fell apon a car full of Booze being transported from France to Germany. Orders came through to hold the station for the night so they cracked a few... he told me how the war was all around them but his unit was held up in this Train station all night drinking and singing and having a release from the strain of the past few weeks. he said it was one of his fondest memories as days later many of his friends in the unit were killed.

    2) When moving into Northern Germany his unit came apon a British truck stuck in the mud at the sid eof the road. The Canadians stopped to help push the lorie back onto the road. In the distance they saw some trucks and tanks moving in their direction, my papa tried to wave them down for assistance in moving the Truck but then noticed to his horror it was a unit of GERMAN TANKS! he told me " Never in your life did I see a bunch of Canucks run faster"... as they did not have any anti-tank weapons they fled to the trees in the face of the on comming German Armor... To their releif and suprise the unit was moving towards the Allied lines to Surender! In a comic twist of the story the Surendering Germans helped pull the British Lorie out of the mud with a Pz IV and the Germans, Canadians and British transport moved back towards the Allied lines together.

    3) the final story that sticks in my mind is how my Papa told me how he "kicked him self in the ass" for not volentering to fight in the Pacific. After VE day each man in his unit was asked if they would be transfered to the Pacific to continue the fight against the Japs. His cousin volentired and was sent back to Canada to be transfered to the Pacific theater, my papa had enough and was glad to have survived the European war... The kicker is that Japan surrendered before his cousin was re-depolyed and was back in Canada, where as my Papa was stuck doing ocupation duty til mid 1946!

    I can remember other small stories but I wanted to share a few.. It was a peoples war and these stories illustrate that ordinary people from all corners of the globe were affected in one way or another.
     
  2. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Gret stuff, thanks for sharing these personal treasures with us!!
     
  3. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Thank you, MontE, Scott, Shangas, Tikilal, Grossborn, and CaptainCW.

    In my case it was my parents, not grandparents - I was born quite late in their life. Whici is possibly, why they told me a little more than they told my brothers - although even then they were reticent. I think I've shared some of their story at times in the Sharing Documents thread and in either the Hollandia or Hello to All thread's of Mr. Jack's. So, at the risk of being repetitive;) I'll include an excerpt of what I contributed to a book written by Melynda Jarrett called "Canadian WarBrides" This is a condensed version as I am currently writing a book about them.

    While burrowing through collections of cards, letters, and various other memorabilia, I was introduced to a portion of my parents’ lives that I only heard in bits and pieces over the years. I was privileged to learn about my parents, Olive Rayson and Chamberlain "Lloyd" Cochrane, as young lovers, and then later as long-time partners.

    Dad was an only child, whose mother had died when he was only 4 years old. When his maternal grandmother suggested she take custody, his father cut all ties with his mother’s family and raised him as best he could as a widowed father – moving from place to place in Western Canada throughout the Depression.

    My mother was born in West Hampstead in 1921. She had 2 sisters and a brother, as well as an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her working career began at 18 when her uncle, a British Major, assisted her in obtaining clerical work in various English government military offices. She was always reticent to state exactly where she worked; only saying “The War Department.”

    Dad was already a member of the militia in New Westminster, B.C, when he joined the 58th Heavy Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery in Vancouver. He was eventually reassigned to the 16th Battery, 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

    In 1941, Mum's brother convinced her to attend a dance at the Lyceum Theatre in London. They would be introduced by a soldier who knew both Dad and her brother. Dad was smitten upon meeting Mum, but it took him most of the evening to gather the courage to ask her to dance. She, in turn was charmed by his intelligence, good looks, and his joyous laugh. Dad and his buddy became frequent visitors to the Rayson family home and by the end of six weeks, Dad asked Mum to marry him. Despite all the reasons not to – including a proposal from a British soldier - she accepted Dad’s marriage proposal. Mum and Dad were passionately in love – something that would never change.

    It took several tries for the wedding to take place. The initial plan was revised when Mum learned she was 3 months older than Dad, and that being under 21 he needed written permission from his father to get married. Then in early 1942, while stationed on the south coast of England, and doing duty as a motorcycle dispatch rider, he was badly injured by a parachute bomb. A year later, they were married May 8, 1943 at All Saints' Queensbury Church in Stanmore, Middlesex. Family and neighbours had ample time to save ration coupons for Mum to have a church wedding complete with white gown, veil, bouquets, and wedding cake.

    1944 was an eventful year, both historically, and for Mum & Dad personally. By the end of March, Mum was anticipating the birth of their first child. On June 6th, she noted in her mini diary in large, bold, capital letters that the invasion of Europe had begun. Mum wrote Dad a letter that day, expressing her love to him and belief in him…"If possible take care of yourself and I pray you will be with me Safe & Sound. I love you my darling with all my heart & soul….” He carried that letter in his Soldier's Service & Pay Book until the end of the war, and it was still in that book when it was found in his bedside drawer after he died in May of 1996 – as always close to his heart.

    By July 2nd Dad was in France, and on July 4 she nearly lost the baby. On September 9th he wrote her from a ditch in Belgium, using the back of a washboard for a writing table, as German shells fired overhead. Amongst his other comments, he wrote, "How is ‘baby’ coming along – according to plan, or is there a chance of complications? I’m getting more and more nervous the closer it gets to the ‘Big Event.’ Take good care of yourself darling; you mean everything in the world to me. I love you with all my heart.” On the back of one of the little birthday cards he wrote, “To My darling Wife on her 23 years of life. May we spend the next 50 years together.” In November, their son Paul was born.

    From July 1944 through May of 1945, Dad served through Northwest Europe as a Gunner, Dispatch Rider, and Signaller and was discharged from service in Vancouver on August 18, 1945. He was fortunate to find employment for a hardware firm in Vancouver. Mum had months to prepare and wait to learn when she would be able to join Dad in Canada. In May 1946, Dad was sent two notices by the Department of National Defence advising him that they proposed embarking Mum on the Queen Mary with an expected arrival in Halifax on June 15. Mum was sent a letter by the Canadian Wives Bureau advising her that arrangements had been made for her passage to Canada. She took only the basics and left behind most of her wedding presents.

    Mum embarked from Southampton on June 11, 1946 and 4 days later arrived in Halifax. She then had a 3,300 mile train journey from Halifax to Vancouver which took nearly five-and-a-half days – all with a 1 ½ year old toddler in tow!

    I"ll find some of the other bits to share here again. I mayl have to start a thread though with the notes I've transcribed from her "shorthand" used in the 3" x 2" diary for 1944.

    Something that always happens though when I go through the different papers and memorabilia, is that there arises a scent that is unmistakably my mother. It always reminds me of when I was a small child held in an all-enveloping hug.
     
  4. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Thanks Michelle!
    Those are great memories!
     
  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Thank you all for these new additions. I took me a while to read these great stories. Michelle one of thes edays I might give you a few Vacouver addresses with local "Lost" airmen families I am looking for. May be some would live near your home, you never know.
     
  6. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Skipper,

    Vancouver is a little ways from where I live - my folks eventually lived in Saskatoon, about the same distance from Northern Fance to the southern tip of Portugal. However, my father's cousin was a pilot instructor in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan - did spend sometime in Britain, lives in Vancouver, and is very active with his former squadron etc. He is also an ex-Air Canada pilot. Send me a PM with anyone you are looking for and I'll email him with the information to see if there is anyone he knows about or has suggestions.
     
  7. montana a-10

    montana a-10 Member

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    I have just got off the phone with my grandmother In the last few months I have been talking t her more and more she lives in Minnesota and I live in Michigan so I do not see her that often after seeing some of the story’s of some of your grandparents I decided to ask her what here life was like during ww2
    She was seven when the war ended but she remembered a lot
    As a child she was always afraid of the Germans and Japanese coming to her house so she created a special place in her attic where she put a bunch of her blankets this is where she would go if she ever saw them coming down her street or coming from a air plain in the sky
    And one day she said she was terrified because the Germans did come. There was a German POW camp close to her house and a few of the prisoners escaped and came to her house in there black and white striped uniforms. They took her fathers car her father yelled for his father who live right next to her house and he came with his shot gun by the time he got there the German POW’s were gone with her fathers car
    The police came and followed the POW’s with dogs the POW’s a banned the car along the highway and ran in to a stream but the police found them.
    She also told me how she remember to being able to get things as a young girl because you had to save up your ration stamps she also said she remembered her mom wanting to get silk stocking but could not
    She also remembered the air raid drills because her mother was the black out warden for her street she said they always had to have the curtains closed at night and the lights of when they had the drills

    This is what she has told me so far she had to go but I am calling her again this week so i hope to learn more
     
  8. Vanir

    Vanir Member

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    My grandmother was in Germany before and through the war, she didn't share many anecdotes but told me some interesting information, which contradicted publication at the time and led me to personal research and a healthy skepticism about everything from aircraft specifications to politics. She seemed to know a lot about various Messerschmitt fighter variants, including Adolf Galland's personal mount.
     
  9. amyw1

    amyw1 Member

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    my mums real dad wasn't involved in either of the wars dipite being in the queens own royal west kent. her stepfather was involved in WW2 and spent alot of time in dunkirk. he wont talk about his expirences, his regiment or anything. he wont even say what medals he got - we know he did get some.

    so its nice to read other peoples tales.
     
  10. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Maybe you can start a thread on the information section Amy, and someone can help?
     
  11. Capt. Flashard

    Capt. Flashard recruit

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    7 Apr, 1943
    The German submarine U-644 was sunk in the North Sea north-west of Narvik, Norway, in position 69º38'N, 05º40'W, by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Tuna (Lt. D.S.R. Martin, RN).

    Hi All

    I would like to add my Grandfathers personal recollection to the above. My Grandfather served as the Sonar Operator on HMS Tuna at the time of U-644's sinking. Unfortunately my Grandfather is no longer with us, but this is his brief account of the action as he explained it to me some 20 years ago.

    Please accept my apologies for not being precise, 20 years is a long time for my memory to recall exact details.

    My Grandfather said that the sinking of U-644 could have gone either way, "us or them" as he put it. For some quirk of fate the "Tuna" had been due to surface at night to send/receive radio messages at a specific time. Some time before they were due to surface they encountered a technical hitch which prevented them surfacing at their alloted time. As they lay just under the surface trying to recticy their technical problem U-644 blew her tanks and surfaced right in front of the "Tuna" my Grandfather relayed the co-ordinates to the Captain and U-644 was successfully hit, sinking in a matter of minutes.

    My Grandfathers most vivid memories of the attack on U-644 was as she went down, the whole crew were in stoney silence as they listened to the U boat breaking up on her way to the bottom of the Atlantic, my Grandfather said the sound of grinding, twisting, collapsing metal had always been with him. They were acutely aware of the fact that if they had surfaced at the correct time they would have been the ones' on their way to a watery grave. When they did finally surface the searched for survivours but to no avail.

    The chances of two submarines arriving at more or less the same co-ordinates, on the same day, at the same time has always amazed me, one survived and one did'nt, yet my Grandfather never made an issue of it, he would just say it wasn't his time, a statement which he never elaborated on either.
     
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  12. Lias_Co_Pilot

    Lias_Co_Pilot Member

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    My father served in Patton's Third Army. He went across North Africa, Sicily, and finally, was in the third wave on D-Day. Christmas 1944, he was nearly mortally wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He hadtwo Bronze Stars and Two Purple Hearts. However, he peaked as a person during the war and he lied his way through the rest of his life. A tragic shame because he might've had some tales to tell if he wasn't such a disreputable person.

    My mother married a pilot in 1942, when she was 15. He flew a B-17 and for a while they lived in McCook Nebraska (he trained there). They divorced four years later and my father swooped in.

    My stepfather was a Marine. During the Battle of Midway, he was on Midway. He was in a machine gun nest. When the planes attacked, they came from an unanticipated direction. A five inch gun swung directly over him and fired. The concussion knocked him out for three days and took away 90% of his hearing.
     
  13. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Nice tales, people. It's a joy to read your posts because they give a human touch to what happened several decades ago.

    This tale comes from my father, who was seven years old when the Japanese invaded the Philippines.
    He told me that their whole village had to pack up and flee to the mountain city of Baguio when they received news that the Japanese arrived in Northern Luzon. They thought they would be safer there because my grandfather was a blacksmith for a mine company there. But with all the rumors of what the Japanese were doing to civilians they caught, they decided to pack up again and leave after only spending a day there.
    They hiked their way down the 5,000 foot plus mountain to the plains of Central Luzon. But on the plains, they found that they were more vulnerable. Japanese pilots apparently didn't discriminate between civilians or military convoys so anything on the roads were strafed. This was at the time that Macarthur's North Luzon Force was making withdrawal to Bataan. They had little food with them and had to make do with what they had. Fortunately, since my late grandfather was a blacksmith, he had a useful skill that could be bartered in exchange for food and fresh water in the other small villages they passed through.
    He recalled a particular night when a priest passed through their makeshift encampment. The priest went to several family huddles and blessed them. Those whom he blessed that night survived the next day's strafing. Those families that didn't had kin lost to the Japanese attack.
    When they reached the small town of Binalonan in Pangasinan province, they settled. My father then helped the family by working as a cochero or driver of a calesa (a local version of a stage coach). Because of his work, he was tapped as a watcher by the local guerrilla group.
    Years later, he joined the Philippine Air Force, telling me that he joined as a mechanic because he could help keep planes in the sky and help protect civilians from ever being strafed again. That memory of being strafed several times over the course of several weeks is the one that stands out in my father.
    As an enlisted man, he often gave his other buddies money to take his place on guard duty so that he can attend night school. He succeeded in getting a college degree and because of that, he was able to join OCS. Then on to Malaysia with the SAS Jungle Warfare School and to Fort Bragg for the Special Warfare Course.
    His service was cut short when the Huey he was on was hit in Mindanao
    He took the early retirement when he was a colonel.
    I don't know what it's really like to be strafed. It must have been pretty bad for my dad to use that experience in his choice of a career.
     
  14. Shangas

    Shangas Member

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    Further my uncle and grandmother's experiences in World War Two in the Pacific Theater, I consulted my history-lecturer at university and asked him about how badly Singapore was attacked (My grandmother and uncle were living there at the time, I believe).

    We all know that as you get older, you forget stuff and invent some other stuff and put in stuff into your stories that was never there in the beginning, so I wanted to know just how true what my uncle told me, was. So I asked my lecturer how badly Singapore was bombed during the Battle of Singapore. He told me that the Japs rained down firebombs and destroyed a great number of buildings and facilities and this makes me think that what my uncle was telling me ("No gas, no water, no electricity, hardly any food, Half the buildings destroyed..." etc) was all very very true.

    My lecturer asked me why I was so curious and I told him about my uncle's experiences and how he was only seven or eight at the time of the Battle. He said: "Must've been a very very hard time to grow up in."
     
  15. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    In reading my grandfather's journal, the one I have covers the period after he got injured at Kharkov. He started it when he lost his kit and a nurse got him a book to write in. From what I gathered, his Stug lost a track and when they bailed, he was hit by gunfire. He doesn't remember anything but got hit in the shoulder, lower left back and somehow his leg was broken. He was unconscious for days. He summarizes the battle and his time in hospital somewhere in Poland. He got transferred to a hospital in Bavaria for further recuperation. That is what I have gathered from a 3 month period so far.
     
  16. kunaevmarat

    kunaevmarat Member

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    my grandma once was washing the clothes of several German officers who staid in her house during occupation. They said they would need clothes at morning and there was already evening so she put it after washing on crapse over the fire in the yield. So it started burn. She took her children and went to forest nearby. The last she saw before going to partizans - German officers dancing around the fire trying to save their clothes.
     
  17. Mythic

    Mythic Member

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    I did just read my grandfathers soldierpassport
    In time of Winter war my grandfather was private in Civil guard and guarded in Southern Ostrobothnia. When Continuation war started he was in reserve ready to join in fight. He was trained to use MG but 1942-43 at trench warfare he was cook. 1943 he did go to reserve. He did come back in 1944 when Soviet offensive started and used his machine gun. (Im very sorry about my english skills)

    [[​IMG]
     
  18. creeper2ads

    creeper2ads Member

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    My grandfather was only a boy ( 15 or so) When Germany was defeated. he said he ate so much food the days after the ration was called off.:)
    So sad that Soilders are dying every day with their memmories. I thimk we need to make up books about their experiences....
     
  19. DanIO

    DanIO Member

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    You all have interesting stories from your grandparents, and I enjoyed reading this thread. My grandfather was in the army at the time of 'The Emergency', but it was the Irish one, so he didn't ever see any fighting. Basically, he was stationed out in the middle of no where, guarding a bridge incase the Germans ever invaded. :p
    I don't really know much about it, I must ask him sometime.
     
  20. Firefoxy

    Firefoxy Dishonorably Discharged

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    My Grandfather was an tank engineer before the war started,became a tank repairman for the british army.

    The tanks he repaired did battle with the german tanks and you all know who came of second best.
    My granddad before repairing the tank had to clean the tank out, it was full of human body parts. Fingers, Heads, Hands,Feet,and the Male bit.
    He thank his lucky stars that he never had to fight in the war.
     

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