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Kimbers

D Day and WW2 Family stories

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On Today, D Day, 6th June 1944 over 4000 soldiers from various countries died and 9000 were injured or missing, I thought it would be nice to commemorate family members who fought for their country, either on the home front (such as Air Raid Wardens) or in one of the armed services. Especially if they were involved in D-Day, but not solely.

So to kick it all off, My dads Uncle was a pilot in a Lancaster. We have been unable to find his war record (Though I want to as the next step of my journey through my family tree) but family stories say he was involved in the softening up of targets before the big push. Sadly he survived the end of the war only to crash and die ferrying planes to storage and scrapping after the war. 

My Grandfather was in the Fleet Air Arm as a gunner. He also packed Parachutes for the Pilots. He always said that as he gave it to them he would say "If it doesn't work bring it back and I'll exchange it" But no one ever did so his packing must have been perfect!! Lmao. He fought in the Med first then out in India against the Japanese, we think at Imphal and Kohima where they shipped in non combatants and a scratch force of all areas of the armed services, to try and stop the Japanese advance. in 6 years he only came home once. At the end of the war he put his medals away and refused to every bring them out or talk about what he had done again. He took his stories with him when he passed and said "We all did things no man should do, I'm not proud of it but I did what I had to and that's all I will ever say".

Lastly My other Granddad was an Air Raid Warden in Coventry. When asked what that entailed he used to shudder and say picking my friends's and their families from the rubble and burying them. He was active in the Coventry Blitz and said he didn't sleep for a week but he was "Just doing his bit". 

Over to you guys. Really interested in your stories!

 

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My Grandad landed in Normandy.........on his birthday.........today 6th June

what a way to spend your birthday...........fortunately he came back...........

My other Grandad was in Burma.........in the RAF....mending "Spits"

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(Albert Einstein  14 March 1879 - 18 April 1955)

 

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Good shout @Kimbers, this kind of thread really re-inforces what I was saying to my teenage kids last night while discussing 75 years ago. As ever, timing is everything!

Both my Grandfathers were born either side of 1900 - just too old to be directly involved in the 39-45 campaign (late 30s) and both in 'reserved occupations', although they both served in the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers - or 'Look, Duck and Vanish' as popular parlance goes!), subsequently know as 'Dads Army'. They both 'missed out' on WW1 (Farmers/Age). My Maternal GGF was killed in 1917 (at Paschendale) - in his 40s, joined up (late) to prove to his wife that he could make something of his life - didn't last a year! His wife (who apparently had kicked him out), went mad with guilt.

Just goes to show that our date of birth has a MASSIVE effect on what life throws at us. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of being in either WW1 or WW2 - and yesterday and today really ought to act as a reminder to us all of how BLOODY LUCKY we are in this day and age. Surely Brexit and the so called austerity of the last few years show how pathetic humans have become. Don't want to thread hijack but really? Think about it - WTF are we doing? All those who sacrificed everything would surely be downright ashamed of where we are today...........


Is the price for that bit in Yen or £?

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Hats off to the VETS.  Amazing how some that are just shy of 100 look like they might be not a day over 70 (and they deserve it)

Can't imagine their courage on that day.and beyond.

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My Grandad was a bus driver before and after WW2. In 1936 he joined the TA, not because he had any interest in being a soldier, but because it paid a small monthly allowance and having just bought a house and having a baby daughter (my Mum), he needed every penny he could get to make ends meet.

As a result of being in the TA he was one of the first to be called up when war was declared in 1939. He was part of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in 1939 and subsequently one of those evacuated from Dunkirk. He was then sent to India as part of the British force sent there to protect it against a possible Japanese invasion. The Japanese never did try and invade, so he appears to have had a fairly cushy year or so in India. There's some really good old family photos of him and his soldier mates posing in front of various sites in India. They all appear to be having a jolly time! It didn't last though.

When the tide of the war turned against the Japanese, he was part of the British force sent into Burma to drive out the Japanese and spent the last phase of the war fighting in the Burmese jungle. His experiences there, and the things he saw had a profound effect on him. He didn't return until 1947 and when he did he only spent a few months back with his family before disappearing for 10 years! Nobody knows where he went or what he did during that time, but he and my Gran never divorced and they obviously stayed in contact because he returned in 1957 for his daughters wedding and walked her down the aisle (even though at that time he was almost a complete stranger to my Mum!). He and my Gran got back together at that time and lived happily ever after for the next 34 years until his death in 1991. The only thing she said about his 10 year absence was that he couldn't cope with normal life after his experiences in the war.

I was born in 1963, and I just remember him as my Grandad and favourite person. He was my hero then, and still is now. He was just an ordinary man thrown into an extraordinary situation.

Seeing those D-Day veterans on TV fills me with admiration for what they did as young men, and gratitude.

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I’m also of an age where grandparents were too old & parents too young. So my Dad’s Dad was an air raid warden in the city of Bath in April 1941, sticks his head round the door of his home one night whilst on duty & suggests to my Gran that she gets the boys under the table (my dad & his 3 brothers, the table was some sort of reinforced table), which she does & then goes upstairs to fetch a baby cousin that she was babysitting from upstairs. As she’s coming back downstairs, the second of many bombs to hit Bath over two nights, hits & destroys a house two doors down, killing that family & destroying my grandparents home. There was a picture of the cot balancing on the remains of a wall, that the baby had just been picked up from published in some papers, stating that the baby had been killed but that wasn’t the case. My Gran & the baby were pulled from the rumble after a couple of hours, a door arch had saved them. My Dad was 4 & a half, it was probably his earliest memory, the family slept rough in a car down by Weston for a few days before returning to the city.

 Can’t really comprehend going through that as a child now.

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Coming a bit late to this thread - my great grandfather served as a surgeon with the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Boer War. By some twist of fate his future son-in-law, my grandfather, lied about his age and joined one of the yeomanry regiments serving in S Africa. His future wife, my grandmother, drove an ambulance in France during WW1, meeting the trainloads of wounded and taking them to the base hospitals. The generations skipped WW2 and my dad joined the army at the end of 1945, was part of the 1st peacetime intake at Sandhurst and served 22 years, including active service in Korea with the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. He transferred to the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars (latterly the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars after amalgamation with 4th Hussars), served with the British Army on the Rhine, a stint at Royal Armoured Corps HQ at Bovington Camp and instructed at various tank gunnery training establishments in Dorset, N Ireland (pre-troubles) and Scotland. He left the army in 1967 with the rank of Major, feeling he had done his bit.  He will be 92 in November and despite being in a care home and having no short-term memory, he remembers his army days with remarkable clarity. He has always been my hero!

Ever since I read Cornelius Ryan's "The  Longest Day" and saw the film I have been hooked on the D-Day story. Using family holidays and various road trips I have managed, over the course of some 25 years, to cover the whole D-Day battlefield. The heritage trail, monuments and museums have been improved greatly over that time and I would recommend it to anyone. For me the standouts are the British Airborne Museum at Pegasus Bridge, Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux, Mulberry Harbour remains at Arromanches (from where came that very moving ceremony yesterday), German battery at Longues, on the cliffs above Arromanches, Omaha Beach and American Cemetery, Pointe du Hoc (taken by the US Rangers) and the US Airborne Museum at Ste Mere Eglise. The D-Day veterans thoroughly deserved the commemoration yesterday - an amazing unselfish generation who should never be forgotten.

 

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Waiting for Charles to return my medals


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My dad was in the R.E.M.E. and, like Stu's, he spent the war in the desert and Italy.  He didn't talk about his war experiences but I did once find his exercise books full of his notes on the recoil mechanisms of artillery guns.  I have no idea what happened to them.  There was a strange incident a few years ago when I and my brothers went to a rugby match in our home town and a guy there said he worked with my dad and they believed he had been a sniper.  I have no idea whether this is true or not.

My mother worked in the munitions factories in Birmingham travelling by train and working a three-shift rota.

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