El Alamein - etc

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by legal_eagle, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. My Maternal Grandfather fought at El Alamein and in Italy - my paternal grandfather stayed civvy through the whole war due to being employed in a reserved occupation.

    Of my 4 Great Grandfathers - all of them served in the Great War - 2 in The Royal Irish Rifles (one survived the war, the other was killed at the Somme on 1st July 1916 attacking Thiepval). One was a farrier who never actually saw any front line service (I'm guessing he wasn't too far away to be shelled though (don't really know for sure, he died before I was born). The last of the four was an old comtempible with the Cheshires - he served through the whole war and was never even wounded, not once!

    NOW THEN....most of you here on ARRSE will be thinking - why the feck are you telling us this, my Grandad / Great Grandad did his bit in the wars too.......
    Well - I'm trying to start a pissing contest - I reckon my forefathers aquitted themselves very admirably - no galllantry medals but one mention in dispatches....So let's hear your stories....was your grandad / great-grandad bigger and braver than mine were??

    P.S. I'm not just taking the piss, I'm genuinely interested in hearing about what your people did in the wars - I'm actually a bit of a military history geek and the First World War especially is my particular period of interest....
  2. Not my grand fathers but worthy of mention. A friend of mines grand father and great uncles all joined the Somerset light Infantry at the start of WW1. All four of them served on the front line. The local village war memorial has many names but not theirs, all four made it through and survived the war. Looking at the names (including brothers) who are on that memorial it seems a bit of a miracle.
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  3. It certainly sounds like it - the war took so many men from the towns and villages of the UK - spare a thought for a lady called Annie Souls - she lost five sons in the Great War -

    Lost Souls

    "Annie Souls would never stand for God Save the King after that..." - I'm a loyalist and a staunch monarchist, but I don't blame the poor woman for taking this attitude, it doesn't bear thingking how terrible it must have been for her..
  4. My great Grandfathers fought in the 1st WW and came home, one was Navy. Three of my Great Uncles also, one is buried near Ypes, the other two returned.

    Wish I knew more.
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  5. My maternal grandfather served in the crabs, as a wireless operator in Lancasters. He did his missions over Deutschland with nary a scratch. He spent the final two years (1944-1946) in the 'Honduras' as he called them. He said his hairiest moment was whilst flying over the Bermuda Triangle one of the engines unaccountably stopped and wouldn't restart. Once they'd landed the mechanics tested the failed engine and found nothing wrong with it.

    My maternal greatgrandfather was with the Belgian Commandos in WWII (funnily enough he was Belgian), he was captured by ze Germans and killed whilst trying to escape from internment.

    My paternal grandfather was too young for the second world war, however his father was shot in the throat at the Somme but survived.

    My dad was a crabfat pilot and enjoyed some 'interesting times', his words not mine.

    My two brothers and I were all on the same Ops, (same capbadge, different units) at the same time, twice in the last ten years.

    On my dad's side, other than my Grandad who was too young for WWII, my family has fought (and in one case died) for the crown since before the peninsular war.

    What do I win?
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  6. Don't know about Great Grandfathers (don't even know their names) but one Grandfather served in Africa, & Europe and then later in the Far East, the latter as a career soldier post WWII - I guess being born in Whitechapel around the beginning of the 20th Century meant that even staying in the Army was better than any other prospects he had. He was MiD for stuff in Africa. Rose to RSM but refused a further commission as, in his own words, 'wanted to stay with the lads'. Awesome bloke and I wish I'd been able to talk to him as an adult. He died 3 weeks before I got confirmation that I'd been accepted to join the Army - I hope he'd have been proud.

    The other Grandfather also served but I doubt he saw anything at the pointy end as he was Pay Corp, or whatever they had then.

    As above, I wish I knew more what Grandfather 1 did - he was always reluctant to talk in depth about it. Perhaps had we been able to talk later when I was in, he would have spoken more.

    Also had one Uncle and his missus both in the Army and another Uncle RAF (but we don't talk about that...)
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  7. Over a certain age I don't know of any one of my relatives that hasn't served not just Grandfathers and Greatgrandfathers but Uncles and Greatuncles. From Zulu wars to end of Empire shitholes.
    What does suprise me that not a single relative has ever been killed wounded yes, died early from being gassed and in a wheel chair etc.
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  8. I think you're definitely winning so far mate - tracing your family's service back to the peninsular war is very impressive...a lot of my family have service history but the farthest back I can trace it is to the 2nd Boer War - but all I know about that is that one of my great great grandfathers was there, I have no idea what he did. My Grandfather once told me that we had an ancestor who had fought in American Revolutionary War (on the British side of course!), but I only have his story about that one, I don't even know what his name was or what relation he would be, if it is actually true that is! My grandad, god love him, was a good one for embellishing and even making up stories for us when we were kids - but he was definitely at El Alamein and from there on to the end...I have his service record and medals, including Africa Star, which I treasure more than my own medals - I only wish I had the WW1 medals from the Great Grandfathers - they have long since vanished and no-one in the family seems to know where they are....
  9. If he didn't like talking about it then it's usually a sign that he was the real deal and didn't want to tell his family or remind himself of what he'd seen and done - and I'm sure he would have been proud of you...this post choked me up a bit and I haven't even been drinking!! :) My Grandad also died shortly before I joined up - I would have loved to have had the chance to visit him in uniform or have him come to my passing off parade..
  10. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    With regardess to El Alamain etc

    Two things my Grandad told me when I was young which I thought were a wind up and actually actually turned out to be true.

    The black and white footage you see on The World at War etc of British troops in the desert in khaki shorts and shirts, rifles with bayonets fixed, getting up running forward, dropping runing forward, dropping etc.

    He used to say they were fresh troops brought in just for the filming and it was all done just outside camp after the battle.
    He claimed that the reason there was no sound was because of the jeering and shouts of "get some time in" etc from "a group of scruffy gets back off the line"
    Read in a book that it was indeed filmed after the battle for showing in cinemas (if you look the kit is imaculate considering they were supposed to be in the field for months)

    When BBC comedy Hi De Hi started he told me that his C.O. in between trying to constantly wipe out the Regiment decreed that they should shout Hi De Hi on greeting fellow members of the unit.
    They would shout Ho De Ho in reply
    He stated it was a laugh in the desert with a **** Off being the reply.
    However when they returned to the UK he expected them to carry on shouting it in the street whislT saluting or greeting fellow squaddies.

    One of the blokes who wrote said thaty he had met a unit who shouted it whilst in camp and he used it for the show.

    If I remember they were probably the only two things he ever told me about the Army and I always took them with a pinch of salt.
    He died before I could say to him I saw That thing you were on about.
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  11. Paternal granddad was A Coy, 1st Bn South Lancs. Landed in the first wave on D-Day and went from there to Bremen at the tip of the 3 Div spear (two wounds I believe, but I don't know much about his service as he never told his kids anything about the war and he died long before I could speak to him). From there to Palestine for the creation of Israel.

    The other was RASC (I believe, I'm waiting on Glasgow sending me his records). North Africa and Italy. He knew Alemein and Cassino as far as I know and had time to watch the 1945 Italian Cup final (I believe it was a regional competition because the main competition was suspended in 1943. Either way, the referee was executed by partisans after the match despite trying to do a runner over a bombed out stand).

    My paternal Nan and her sister (possibly cousin, it's a long time since I was told the story) were strafed by a German bomber while walking across fields in Storeton on the Wirral. Neither were hit but were appropriately scared.

    I'm not sure on the rest. I know two people on the paternal side died on the Burma railway because both my Nan and Granddad despised Japs. I don't know about what the others did in World War 2 or the Great War though.

  12. I'm extremely lucky I suppose, I have an 'old' family name, I've managed to locate records without any real difficulty (it's amazing what a few quid will do).

    Even though my family has at least 200 (attributable) years service; nowadays I wouldn't want my wee boy to join up when he's old enough. He's 6 years old now and already decided he's going to become a soldier. About a year and a half ago, he told me that he wanted to try my helmet & ECBA on (I work abroad, I've got my own set.....), so I let him try it on, please bear in mind the bottom of the ECBA was dragging on the floor & the helmet was ******* massive on him. He looked cute as ****, but at the same time it broke my bloody heart to think of him possibly putting it on for real in the future.
  13. I brought my first car when I moved from someone who fought at El Alamein, he was captured and spent the rest of the war in POW camps, the first near Glasgow and the 2nd in Norfolk, I moved to Italy.

    He seemed to be quite happy to be captured, rubbish food, guns, tents, clothing everything "Vecchio" old.

    My father in law fought with the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade, went on to join the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, again never talked about it, medals lost or never even claimed.
  14. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    Maternal side.
    Mother served WW2 as a WAAF wireless operator.
    Her elder sister ATC, not sure what she did.
    Eldest brother TA RE prewar, then commissioned in RA for war service, served Alamein & Sicily, then trained as an AOP, killed Holland November 1944.
    Another brother Merchant Navy.
    Non from the family, that I can trace, served WW1, they were all too busy building ships on the Clyde.

    Paternal side.
    Old man, regular crab, rigger on Hurricanes. Spent most of the war in Aden where the pilots were trained for desert flying.
    Younger brother RM, involved day 1 D day.
    WW1. Grandfather served in Army Cycle Corps, (or as his sons called it 'The Gas Pipe Cavalry')
    His eldest brother Served Yorkshire Regt, killed May 1915 in one of the first gas attacks, commemorated on the Menin Gate.
    Another brother called up called up in 1917 spent most of his time in hospital with pleurisy and eventually invallided out without getting to France.
    Their sister died in the 1918 'flu pandemic.
    Grandmother's brother Tank Regt, killed Poziers 1918, No known grave, commemorated Poziers memorial to the missing. My father was named after him.
    A brother in Yorkshire Regt survived the war.
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  15. Brilliant! - my Great Uncle (by marriage not blood) was captured in Normandy and spent the rest of the war in Scotland - when it all ended his home was in what became East Germany and so he never went back, married and divorced a Glasgow girl and is still alive and well in England to this day 91 years old! He has never returned to Germany in all those years.
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