• Thought it might be fun to talk about what relatives everyone has who served than.  Both my grandfathers did.

    One is meaningless to me, because he was a douche bag I never met, but he was in the 101st and was part of the Normandy invasion.  Had I ever met him, and wanted to talk to him, I would have liked to ask him about it because his take on it would have been different than most.  He was full on Kraut, (second generation, full blooded German).  My mother never cared for the man to put it lightly, but I would be interested to know his story about invading the country his mother and father came from.  He volunteered, so he knew what he was getting into.  I question the military choosing to send my grandfather ‘the hun’ to fight Germans.  If the Germans found out he was ‘Aryan’ I think they would have not been too pleased (I and my mother have blond hair and blue eyes, and are in relatively good shape - that’s the stereotype).  I never met the man, but I would not doubt we look alike.  I am not normally an ‘evil government’ type of person, but they could have just as easily sent him to the Pacific instead of literally dropping him into the middle of France where he had a good chance of being captured.

    My other grandfather served in the Pacific.  He was stationed at Guadacanal.  I started getting interested in WW2 in about the 5th grade and my father told me that his father had served, and said I should ask Granddad about it.  Hearing Guadacanal I figured I was going to hear some really cool war stories.  Well… the conversation went like this:

    “Granddad, what did you do in the Army?!”
    “I had a plane I had to fix everyday”.  (and that was the end of the story until I pressed him further)
    “Anything else?”
    “Well, one day the Japs dropped a bomb on my plane”.
    “REALLY?!?  WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?”
    “Didn’t have to fix the plane any more”.

    Hardly medal of honor material, but I like the story.  A side note to my grandfather’s service, thank god for nuclear weapons.  Later on he was set to invade Japan.  Me and my  father wouldn’t have been around if not for nukes!


  • Good post and good thread, Zooey. 🙂

    Both Anglia and Saxony are part of Germany. The English (Anglo-Saxons) are primarily of German descent. They were considered Aryans by the Nazis. Englishman captured by the Nazis were not subjected to worse treatment than non-Aryan POWs. I could be mistaken, but I imagine that the same considerations which led the Nazis to forgive some people of German descent (the English) for fighting against Germany would also cause them to forgive your German-ancestry grandfather for doing the same. It’s normal for someone born and raised in the United States to be loyal to America, and I think the Nazis understood that.

    In answer to your question, my paternal grandfather served as a doctor for the US Army during WWII. (European theater.) My maternal grandfather was Polish, and had been born and raised in Poland. He served in the Polish military police in the opening stages of the war. He was in the eastern half of Poland, and fell into Soviet custody. He was tortured for a time in a Soviet concentration camp before being released. He was luckier than many. From 1939 - '41, the Soviet Union decimated the popuation of eastern Poland. One person out of every ten was either killed outright or deported. (Typically to a gulag.)

  • 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    My father was briefly in the British paratroopers before being invalided out. By the time he recovered from that mishap Germany had surrendered. He was put on a troopship out to India and managed to have an accident that put him in hospital until after Japan had surrendered. Not medal of honour material either (or Victoria Cross for us Brits) but his 3 sons “took the mick” mercilessly from the time we found out.

    My German uncle fought on the Russian front. I never had the chance to discuss his experience with him as he separated from my aunt while I was still a child. The family story is that he shot himself in the foot, was sent home and ended up fighting the British in Normandy, where he was captured. He stayed here after the war was over. My father later took him on a double date with my mum and her sister. The speed with which the British forgave the Germans and vice-versa is inspiring.

    My paternal grandfather (according to family legend) fought at the battle of Jutland, was the only survivor from a shipwreck in the Med, was fleet boxing champion, spent some of the inter-war years training the Japanese navy, before joining the RN again in WW2. I wish I had known him.

  • Moderator 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 '12

    Both my grandfathers were pre war volunteers.
    My English one joined the RAF at 18 (in 35) and worked his way up to Flt Sergeant before choosing to leave in 45. (He was asked to stay on.) He was a desk Sergeant and served in many English airbases, including Duxford, Cambridgeshire, where he met my nan.

    My Italian grandfather was older and joined the army around 1930. He was sent to North Africa, maybe even Ethiopia/ East Africa. He was also sent to Russia as part of Mussolini’s 60000 contingent in 41. Fortunately, he was invalided out in Feb 42, so never went with the 8th Army into the Ukraine and certain death outside Stalingrad.
    He met my 14 year old nonna in a village country restaurant, while on leave.
    Dad was born mid August 43, high up in the Appenines, hiding away from Florence and the imminent Salerno landings.
    He did have some stories and often started to  cry when he talked of Russia. He finished up as a Corporal, saying he refused more promotions.
    He was an excellent swimmer and saved at least 3 people from drowning.

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    No WWII veterans in my family that I’m aware of, but a work colleague of mine had a great-uncle who served in Europe during the war.  I got to read his typecript memoir, which was a great treat, and I returned the favour by writing for the benefit of his family some annotations that commented about or provided background information on some of the things mentioned in the typescript.  He was involved in quite a few campaigns, including two that later became A&A games: D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.  The incident I enjoyed the most concerns what happened after he and another officer lost their jeep on a collapsed bridge in France in 1944. The two men (who survived the accident unharmed) eventually made their way to a US Army motor pool, where they asked the man in charge if they could have another jeep.  The motor pool had so many jeeps (courtesy of the Detroit auto industry) that the man in charge casually said,  “Sure. Take two if you want.”  The officers, rather pleased by how easily their requisition had been granted, asked for the forms that they (presumably) needed to fill out and sign before they could drive off with the vehicles.  The man in charge told them not to bother with that stuff and to just take the jeeps and go.

  • 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17

    My father served as a corporal in the Dutch Army in 1940. Not for a very long time, because the German invasion soon overcame Dutch resistance (earlier, I have outlined the events of that campaign here and in several followup posts). The unit in which my father served had been assigned to guard a bridge that was considered strategically important by the Dutch, though it was at the time undecided what they should do if their position came under pressure from the enemy - either blow up the bridge or defend it.
    As it turned out, the Germans held a different opinion on the importance of the bridge. They never even approached it, and instead launched a two-pronged attack that bypassed my father’s position on the north and on the south.
    Lack of proper communication equipment was a major problem of the Dutch forces at the time, and even senior officers had a hard time finding out what was going on, let alone the men in the field. So when the Dutch capitulated a few days later, many soldiers were largely unaware of the military situation in the field, and news of major events reached them only through rumors. The order to lay down their weapons was met with indignation by many men who saw no direct reason to capitulate to an enemy that had not defeated them in battle, or in the case of my father, never even been sighted.

  • Customizer

    My grandfather fought against the Japanese in the Philippines as both a 1st Lt and later as a guerrilla after the Philippines fell. I lost more members of my mothers family due to my grandfathers involvement in the guerrilas and no doubt to the fact that he was an officer in the territorial army.

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @sgtwiltan:

    My grandfather fought against the Japanese in the Philippines as both a 1st Lt and later as a guerrilla after the Philippines fell. I lost more members of my mothers family due to my grandfathers involvement in the guerrilas and no doubt to the fact that he was an officer in the territorial army.

    It’s highly fictionalized, but you may enjoy – if you haven’t seen it – the 1945 John Wayne movie Back to Bataan.  It’s about the exploits of Filipino guerilla fighters, and one of most notable characters is a matronly, very middle-aged schoolteacher who proves tough enough to join the guerillas.


  • Although no one in my family fought in the Second World War, my great grandfather was in the Canadian Army during the First World War.

    He was a messanger, and unfortunately he got gassed up pretty badly. I don’t remember how long he was in the war, but I do remember records saying that he fought in the battle of Passendale. He later got brought back to Canada after he got shot in the leg  😞

    My grandmother tells me that he never talked about the war; he never even kept any part of his uniform. But at least my grandmother kept his medals and she still has a photo of him in his military uniform 😄


  • My paternal grandfather was CCC before the war, in Alabama/Tennessee, working on the TVA dams, etc.  Because of this previous work, he was able to start in the Army at a higher rank and choose his job (anti-aircraft artillery).  he was in the North Africa campaigns, until ready to move in to Italy and link up with Patton’s 3rd.  However, just before leaving Tunis harbor, he contracted malaria/yellow fever/something and was shipped home, instead.  He was discharged a sergeant, but of which, I can’t recall (I assume buck… E-5).

    My maternal grandfather left my mother a bastard.  After my grandmother became pregnant (while they were just dating), the story is that his well-to-do family, from back home in Massachusetts, gave him an ultimatum to just sever all ties.  Thus, he was never heard from again.  He was an Air Force officer stationed in Montgomery, AL in the late 50s.  My grandmother was a WAC secretary, there.  I am sure you can all piece the office relationship puzzle together.  They were both too young to have served in WWII, and I am quite sure he didn’t serve in Korea, either.  However, since my Grandmother had no known contact with him past 1959 (when my mother was born), I do not know if he was in Vietnam.

    Anyway, that’s my side, let’s keep it going!


  • My grandfather volunteer for the U.S Army in 1940 for a paycheck.

    He served with the U.S 2nd ID. He arrived in Normandy on D+4, fought around St. Lo. During the breakout the Division raced to the Brittany Peninsula for the prized port of Brest. The unit fought a six week house to house fight with German paratroopers and coastal garrison units. He experience his worse bombardment during this fight. Had mortars dropped around him while delivering food to the frontline.

    After Brittany the Division went across France ending up a few miles North of St. Vith in the Ardennes Forest for R & R. The 2nd and 99th Divisions fought to hold the Elsenborn Ridge in the opening days of the Bulge.

    He spent a year in Germany after the war.


  • @EricTheGreat12:

    Although no one in my family fought in the Second World War, my great grandfather was in the Canadian Army during the First World War.

    He was a messanger, and unfortunately he got gassed up pretty badly. I don’t remember how long he was in the war, but I do remember records saying that he fought in the battle of Passendale. He later got brought back to Canada after he got shot in the leg   😞

    My grandmother tells me that he never talked about the war; he never even kept any part of his uniform. But at least my grandmother kept his medals and she still has a photo of him in his military uniform 😄

    I wished I had asked more questions to my relatives.
    I believe one serviced Halifaxs in India though on reflection
    I was unaware whether they were based there, others served
    in the Merchant navy or in the Fire service etc.

    One account I recently read about the gassing in WW1 was
    a doctor treating two patients, the Chlorine gas was so strong
    on them that he left the room to be sick.

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