I wish my grandad was here now

Thought this best place to put this. (rant)

Anybody else feel like I do...My grandad never really talked about the war, where he went etc. I have his service recoreds now. It looks like he lived a lifetime of modesty. When I was in the mob I, and when he was still alive, it never really occurred to me to ask him things. I suppose I reached "enlightenment" when it was already too late. The questions can still be asked but he is no longer here to answer them.

Has anybody here still got the luxury of a grandparent who was involved in WW2?
Yes, but she's absolutely cuckoo with Alzheimers.

"Granny what did you do in the war?"

"Over there in the sugar bowl dear"
My grandfather used to tell stories of his time in the war, when he died and my mother started doing a bit of family history it turned out he never served at all. Bullshitting old ****.

Shame you never got to hear it first hand pal.
When I were a lad, befoor WW2, there were an old chap who mended shoes, in his shed were a bayonet!
He used to tell us, "That's a Johnny Turk 'BEARNIT' me lads, it come from Gallipoli"'
I grew up on this tale, about 70 years later I was at Poppy Day service in the village and mentioned this story to his daughter.
"Lying old bugger" she said "He found it in the hedge down Lords Lane".!! :
5A cnut!!!

Brilliant :D

Serious question though.
Serious answer.......
you are not alone, it's only in recent years that I have realised there were many things I should have asked my Dad, but, let's face it, when you are young these things do not occur to you.........then unfortunately it's too late.
Also, you don't realise how much your aged parents look forward to your visits, don't leave it until it's too late. Sorry.
supermatelot said:
5A cnut!!!

Brilliant :D

Serious question though.
Mate, I was being serious. When she was compus mentus I'd pop round there for a few G&T's and the conversation would invariably steer towards the war. She related how herself and friends were in the local dance club when her father walked in. She was distraught as she thought he'd beast her for smoking (she was 20) but unfortunately it was for other reasons. It was to tell her that her fiance had gone down with HMS Hood.
Another one that sticks in the memory is of a period of mourning in her street for 3 local lads (all unrelated but best of friends) who'd been killed during Market Garden.

Also the Heinkel bomber shot down over the local docks which crashed killing all aboard into the neighbouring street.
Cheers mate.
Luckily I am of an age that my Mum was a teenager during the war and joined up as Land Girl and a WRNS at the very end. She has few stories.

The Home Front could be just as nasty. She recalls watching a bomb dropping towards her during the Blitz. She said it was all sort of surrounded by purple light and it just skimmed over her (parents) house and hit her Aunts house behind them. She lost an Aunt, Uncle and a cousin in that raid. SE London, Lewisham, sometime in 1940-41. Also my Uncle, GRHS, wanted to know as all teenagers do, why there were these hessian sacks being offloaded from a truck into a nearby cold plant. Decided to break in and find out. He found out all right. Turns out each sack contained enough body parts to make up a victim of the Blitz, i.e. 2 arms , 2 legs, head and torso. When he opened one an arm fell out and he had to put it back!!

He went on to join up just before wars end. Ended up as a WO2 RCT (ex RASC) BEM.
My maternal grandfather fought with the 8th Army and into Italy. Post-war, he stayed in and took part in the Mau Mau campaign in Kenya.

He never said a word about it to anyone, (possibly apart from his friends who were also there). When asked, the only thing he would mention is that he kept a pair of rabbits that made it through the African Campaign. It's a source of great sadness (albeit with a degree of understanding) that he would never say anything about it.
Altz got my grandad also.
Leukemia (spell) finally got the ****** t hough.
My grandad died just over a year ago and was my absolute hero having been a Platoon Sergeant in the London Rifle Brigade throughout the war, fighting all the way up from Sicily including the battle of Cassino, finishing the war in the north of Germany.

He was always telling tales of what he and his mates had got up to during the war, but significantly they were always the stories about punch-ups in the bar with sailors, selling army petrol to the Italians and generally acting like across between Alf Garnet and Sgt Bilko. They were never about the horrors he saw or the countless acts of bravery I later found out he had been involved in. He obviously learned to deal with those aspects in his own way.

He played the major role in inspiring me and my brother to join up and I miss him every day. :salut:


Book Reviewer
There are two messages here. One is to make whatever elderly relatives you have left write down their experiences before it's too late. The other is to write your own down so that even if the current generation doesn't think it's interesting, when they are your age and can see which way is up, they won't have your regrets.

Our grandson's history teacher last year told all of year 5 to go and get their grandparents to get typing. A very interesting booklet resulted. In my own case when my mother was about 80 I told her the typing would be good for her arthritis. I knew a bit about her adventures in the Blitz and so forth but a lot more interesting material came out.
Both of my grandads popped their clogs when I was still too young to ask them about the stuff they got up to in the war, and also before they ever got to see me in DPM (not even cadet-style). As proud as I am of them I'm sure I'd be prouder if we'd got to sit down and have a wee dram together, and I hope they'd be happy with me too.
My fathers father was with the Devonshire Regiment and was at Breville where he was shot, first by the Germans, placed in a truck to be taken back to a field hospital, and then the truck was straffed by the Luftwaffa, where he was hit once more. He survived!

He was a Bren gunner and tells the story that his number 2, a young lad, was desperate to have a go with the Bren. After much arguement my grandfather moved over, the young lad took up position on the gun and was promptly shot.

My Fathers mother was an Anti Aircraft gunner in the East End of London. The guns were set up on Wanstead Flats. She latterly became a Search Light Operator.

My partners grandfather, lovely old man, was a navigator on Lancs. He refuses to speak about it. We have no idea where he flew, what happened and nore does his wife (second wife)

My mothers father seems to have spent the war in North Africa with the Royal Navy on a supply ship and playing football for the Navy (He played for West Ham before the war)
I posted something similar here: http://www.arrse.co.uk/Forums/viewtopic/t=147366/postdays=0/postorder=asc/start=300.html but anyway:

My grandfather was a National Serviceman in the REME - he was in Germany shortly after VE day. Sadly he passed away when I was 13, about 3 years before I had any serious interest in anything military. Apparently, I now take after him a lot. He didn't really tell me much apart from how much he got drunk there, and bartering his cigarette rations with the locals and his oppos. Also, he was ginger.

He's also the only one who could have told me anything about my Great-grandfather and great-great-uncle, who fought on the Western Front in WWI. My great-grandfather was apparently injured very badly and never properly recovered, although must have been well enough to get it on, as he spawned my grandfather in the 1920's. Sadly, I don't even know what regiment they were from, apart from that it was one that recruited from London (I remember being told they were infantry). I've always wanted to do some research and find out more, but wouldn't know where to start with so little information, nor have the money for one of those internet genealogy sites.
Finally getting off my lazy arse and saving a small share of this information. I have no Grandparents around anymore, but lots of stories from my Mother about the Hull blitz, and I am starting to capture the memories of those people mentioned in this thread http://www.arrse.co.uk/Forums/viewtopic/t=148330.html
in digital, what I will do with them I don't know, but I think if I only play them to my kids, it is a very important part of our heritage that needs, nay, must be saved.

As an after thought, Spielberg is putting together an extensive libary of holocaust memories, perhaps it would be possible to create an Arrse repository of serving and ex-serving memories?
My mother in law is the only one still alive and compis mentis enough to talk first hand about the war.

She was very young but can still vividly remember haveing to dive into a ditch to avoid a bombing/strafing raid and getting her confirmation dress all dirty - she still hates the bloody RAF for that :)


Book Reviewer
London crab, cut along to your local public library and enquire what free access they have to Ancestrylibrary.com or findmypast.com. I can only speak for Hampshire but we have these in selected libraries and one only needs one's library card number and a pin to get in. Meanwhile with same library card id I can get in at home to the Times archive and 'Local Newspapers Online', and for nothing into familysearch.com and freebmd which has the basic birth marriage and death indexes (somewhat incomplete still after about 1920). There's a lot one can do without spending anything! Depending on whereabouts in London you are you can tube down to Kew and grub about in the National Archives. There's a learning curve for all this but a lot to be had if one sticks at it.

PS for WW1 start with the medal indexes which ought to reveal regiment & some other detail.
Thanks for the infor fellas:
Food for thought.

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