Family fact or fantasy - military relatives

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by RAF889, Jun 19, 2013.

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  1. My granddad was born in 1906 ish. He has been in his grave since 1973 or there abouts. The story I had been told growing up was that as a boy he saw or learnt of a young fella that did not enlist in WW1 after conscription was stopped. He was apparently lynched by the local populace. In the late 1920/30s granddad was blinded in his left eye playing football.
    At the outbreak of WW2 he went straight off to the recruiting office to join up. The family tale tells me that he expected to get a thanks but no thanks you're 33 ish and half blind now **** off so he could walk with his head held high. However, the medic/Dr is alleged to have said "left or right handed?", "right handed sah" came the reply from granddad. "You'll not need to close an eye to shoot" said the medical staff! So began a career in the REME.
    Also he is meant to have contracted spinal meningitis in and around 1941. My dad remembers the family going to see him down south. Next thing he was in Africa then Italy!
    After his death I inherited his medals but no Africa star. I wrote to the MoD they informed that he never served in Africa and had been sent to Scotland to recuperate after the meningitis. In fact according to the MoD he never ever left Scotland and just appeared in Italy!!!
    His oldest mate a pre war tankie used to tell me that he wanted to stay with his mates so probably 'jumped ship and trooped to Africa with his pals"
    I was too young to have a chat with him and my dad told me he never spoke about the war on his return. He never had his medals mounted and they were found in the bottom of his sock drawer after he died.
    Before my dad passed he told me that granddad hated the Army after his war service.

    Family fact or just utter bullshit to entertain a young fella 40 odd years ago? What do you guys think?
  2. Ah-family anecdote. Where would we be without it?
  3. an·ec·dote
    1. A short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.
    2. An account regarded as unreliable or hearsay.
    story - joke

    Guess that answers my question
  4. oldbaldy

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

    |I'm sure a lot of this went on. I've been helping a cousin research the grandfather of her husband. The story went he was gassed in WW1 and died in 1933 from respiratory condition related.
    I found he joined the Territorials in May 1914, before the outbreak of war, did his first camp in the July, and then was mobilised in the August, went for the training but was medically discharged in the September. Never got to France and no medal card for him. Goodness knows what he did in the war years but it wasn't being gassed in 1915!
  5. It's your family, do you want to trust what you've been told or do you want to break down every claim and examine it under a microscope? I don't see why you need to find out 'the truth', the truth is whatever your Granddad wanted it to be.
    • Like Like x 3
  6. All my dad knew from what my grandad told him was that he was blown up on his ship in WW1.
    My nan didn't say much more then that to me when I asked her.
    I've since found out that he was blown up on HMS Hardy in December 1914, after it responded to the German navy after they attacked Hartlepool.
    I found the damage report and his friends names who died next to him.
    Also got his wound certificate and found out that he was thought to be dead and left alone for a short time. This was due to a lot of blood loss.
    He never talked about it to anyone or wore his WW1 or WW2 medals.
    I found most of that out by his service number and name.
    Not sure if he'd have wanted me to find out really though.
  7. well in my lot we'd be questioning my Uncles paternity for a start
  8. If we don't seek the truth or at least confirm accuracy then the truth loses all credibility. Without credibility there is no truth. The truth becomes an individual perspective on events and for every event there will be multiple truths, each is relevant to the event but not necessarily accurate to the truth of the situation.
    A good example of what I am trying to say is any ex serviceman walting. To them they believe and want others to believe.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. That's a great family history find and one which you can pass on down the line to your descendants.
  10. The REME wasn't formed till Oct 42 so he may have been expanding the truth somewhat.

    My Maternal Grandfather was at Normandy as a Bren Gunner but got shot in the leg at Caen. Have a feeling he went into rear echelon duties after that but he never spoke about the war. Hated the Germans with a passion though. Went back to working on the Rolls estate after the war (between Abergavenny and Monmouth - The Hendre) and taught his dogs to growl whenever VWs went by (cylindrical engine sounding different and all) because of their Fatherland roots! Top bloke, wish he'd have seen me join up.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Even found out silly things like the time he lost a good conduct stripe for going AWOL when he was young, don't really know why for sure but my nan said he overstayed his leave to spend an extra day with her.
    Lost a 4 year stripe for that !!
    Got it back to become a three badgeman though at a later date !!
  12. I was told the stories in the mid 1970s, I guess REME was his discharge unit.

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]
    Back in the 1990s a mate on my watch drove a 1960s VW Beetle. In town he had an old soldier verbally and physically assault him for driving a German motor. To carry that much hatred for so long has to be tiring. Are the guys and girls who deploy time and again going to carry this burden too. However, training the dogs is cool though.
    Did you follow him into the same unit or Regt?
  13. One recurring WW1 or WW2 family story is that of how;

    "[subject's NOK] was even charged for the blanket they buried him in"

    Not only has the story been told of probably war since the Crimea, it
    doesn't make much sense either from the viewpoint of active service accounting
    or the front- line conditions of the First or Second World Wars.
  14. If you investigate and find out your Grandfather may have been a little economical with the truth what will you have gained? This is a family anecdote passed on second hand and one you say you didn't listen to that carefully. Perhaps your Dad didn't listen too carefully when he was being told so any inaccuracies could be his and not his father's. Still, I suppose you can always rush down the pub and tell everyone what bluffing c__ts your Dad and Granddad were.
  15. Never knew my granddad that well, but the memories I have I do hold dear. My old fella was not perfect but certainly wasn't a c**t. You know what they say, "in every group there is a c**t, have a look around, if you can't see the c**t, it's you". So I guess looking around the men in my family I can't see the c**t ..............