Just has to be said....

This is rather long and mostly cathartic rant, but it's overdue. Hope you don't mind.

I wanted to remember someone - my granddad, who was a Sergeant in WWII. He was in the 8th Army and once did a moony as Montgomery drove past and got busted down to Corporal. I remember when I was very little and he was driving me and my Nan out on a Sunday and he stopped to pick up two soldiers who were hitching on the side of the road. He ended up drinking with them in a service station and Nan had to call a friend to come and get us.

Granddad told me a lot of funny stories about the war. Stuff about selling wine back to the French and getting the better of a Staff-Sergeant he was always having trouble with.
Just before he died he showed me an old picture of his platoon and named all the men- Taffy, Mick, Jock etc.
He told me a terrible story, of how all these men, who he'd been with for years, were killed one night when the church they were resting in took a direct hit. He had been called to HQ and when he got back they had all been buried. It was the first and only time I ever saw him shed a tear.

I asked him once, if he hated the Germans and he told me no. He said most of them were just scared like everyone else. It was the Americans he came home with a hatred for and I don't think he ever got over whatever had upset him so much. He did tell me once that some American pilots towing gliders had come under flak and let the planes go too soon, so that many crashed into hillsides… something like that.

Granddad wasn't easy to get along with. He took me with him to hunt rabbits and told me, "Always remember… if you can see the enemy…. they can see you."
He got upset if I was squeamish about skinning rabbits, or if I jumped when he fired his shot-gun. If I passed him the wrong tool when he was working on his car, or if I was too slow or hesitant… he would be angry.

I once saw him beat up a man in a garage. I once saw him aim a shot-gun at my Nan.

If I cried he'd shout at me, "Stand up straight, put your shoulders back, stop that *ucking wailing."
When I'd pleased him, he'd say I was his best soldier.
He was the only man in my life as my parents were not around and I grew up to admire, love and fear him. Of course I grew up confused. I was and still am what people call a 'tom-boy' – I'm more interested in cars, science fiction books, adventures on the high seas, guns, westerns and horse-racing than I am anything remotely romantic or feminine.

Granddad was traumatised by his experiences of war, I'm positive of that and I forgive him any harm that he ever did me.
When I read ' Zoid's' post dated May 04, on the thread 'WW2 Infantry Platoon vs. 2005 platoon: who would win?', I understood that whatever else Granddad was, he was a survivor – and that I take after him.

Thanks and also:
I wanted to say here how proud I am of all of you who have to face your own fears and hardships without question while serving. Good luck and bless you all.


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