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What Did You Do In The War Dad?

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What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby RompinDonkey » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:14 pm

I've had and absolute eye opener tonight!

My father in law, who is 84 years old has pestered me for weeks to get him new ribbons for his WW2 medals. I have got them for him. But in the process have discovered that he is a lying old git. He always told us that he joined up "under age" and fought in Burma. All a load of crap, he never fired a shot in anger or received one coming the other way. He had been conscripted. Never went to Burma but spent time in Malaya.

This guy also never shuts up about the war. A bit like Uncle Albert in "Fools and Horses".

The revelation that I HAVE discovered tonight, is that my father did fly in the Lancaster bombers during the war. I had always assumed that he was too young to have done that. I knew that he had flown in Lancs, but not during the war. I was wrong.

My father NEVER mentioned the war, and would never answer that question "What did you do in the war Dad?"

His suicide has always been a problem for myself - why did he do it? I think I may know a bit of the reason now.

My Dad hated modern society, especially students protesting about this and that. One thing that I do remember though is that he once said "They may be long haired layabouts - but I don't think that they will rush to war like we did". Not such a profound statement you might think - but it must have been because I remember it 45 years later. Did he ever forget the people that his bombs landed on?

The question is - why is it that people that fought and died in the skies, in bomber command, never received any recognition with medals?

It is fact that life expectancy was far higher in infantry, than bomber command. I know that a memorial has been built in London recently, but a bit late in the day?
Alan

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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:24 am

You should be well proud of your dad Alan. My father did national service in bomber command. Lancaster bombers I think. His father ( my grandad ) fought in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders during the war. He got hit by shrapnel and sent home, only to return again to the front line when he'd recovered. Not long after that he was shot in the leg. My gran got a necklace made and wore the bullet they removed from his leg around her neck.

He never talked about the war either. In fact, he never said much at all after his return from the front line. My memories are of him sitting in his armchair by the fireside smoking an old battered straight briar. The only thing I ever remember him saying was Aye.

This was his stock reply to anything I used to say to him about my school or what I'd been up to in the holidays etc.

Aye but often a long and drawn out Aaaaayeee. My father told me that he never did say much after his return from the war.

I own my grandfather's original Clarke's Penny Whistle. Quite a collectors item. Astonishingly, it still plays well and has a lovely tone.

What I am saying here is that you definitely should be proud of your father matey. For I, as a long haired layabout, am definitely proud of my grandad.

P.S. Ironically enough, most of those long haired layabouts who protested about this and that issue, bleated on about socialism and sold the socialist worker, were university students. The very same students who went on to graduate and land a high paid position as the manager of some company and become quite the little capitalists :lol: :lol:
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:28 am

ScotsJim wrote:You should be well proud of your dad Alan. My father did national service in bomber command. Lancaster bombers I think. His father ( my grandad ) fought in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders during the war. He got hit by shrapnel and sent home, only to return again to the front line when he'd recovered. Not long after that he was shot in the leg. My gran got a necklace made and wore the bullet they removed from his leg around her neck.

He never talked about the war either. In fact, he never said much at all after his return from the front line. My memories are of him sitting in his armchair by the fireside smoking an old battered straight briar. The only thing I ever remember him saying was Aye.

This was his stock reply to anything I used to say to him about my school or what I'd been up to in the holidays etc.

Aye but often a long and drawn out Aaaaayeee. My father told me that he never did say much after his return from the war.

I own my grandfather's original Clarke's Penny Whistle. Quite a collectors item. Astonishingly, it still plays well and has a lovely tone.

What I am saying here is that you definitely should be proud of your father matey. For I, as a long haired layabout, am definitely proud of my grandad.

Cuimhnich air na daoine bho ’n d’ thàinig thu

P.S. Ironically enough, most of those long haired layabouts who protested about this and that issue, bleated on about socialism and sold the socialist worker, were university students. The very same students who went on to graduate and land a high paid position as the manager of some company and become quite the little capitalists :lol: :lol:
Jim
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby bearded1 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:43 pm

ScotsJim wrote:He never talked about the war either.


That seems to be the way of it for those that were truly in the thick of it. Nice history from both of you, thank you for sharing parts of your family story.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby Marquette » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:33 pm

My great uncle was the same way. He fought in the Italian campaign and never would talk about it. One day he just sat there and told my Dad and I all about what happened & he was in the thick of the fighting. He was the only one of his patrol to survive during one fight. My Father later said he had never heard those stories. My Great Uncle died just a few months later.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby RompinDonkey » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:54 pm

Thanks for those replies.

It does seem to be the case that those that experienced the real horror of war, keep quite about it. Not that it is any big secret - they just don't want to talk about it.

My grandfather Reuben Moreton - I have been researching for twelve years now, and have found virtually nothing. Just the fact that as a coal miner, he joined up in WW1 and became a "tunneler". (I have found an Army record for that). Those "tunnelers" although not going "over the top", and experiencing the horror that occurred then, did have their own horror to go through underground. Quite a bad time they had. As coal miners, going underground wouldn't have been a problem, but the conditions, and results of what they did (and had done to them) was "mind breaking".

My elder sister remembers my mother telling her that Reuben went to war as a gentleman, but came back a totally broken man and alcoholic.
Alan

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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby RompinDonkey » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:06 pm

ScotsJim wrote:
Aye but often a long and drawn out Aaaaayeee. My father told me that he never did say much after his return from the war.

I own my grandfather's original Clarke's Penny Whistle. Quite a collectors item. Astonishingly, it still plays well and has a lovely tone.



Your Grandad sounds like Reuben ( I never met Reuben).

To have that whistle is priceless. Totally priceless.
Alan

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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby eric » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:03 pm

Alan, I know exactly where you are coming from.

I have had the pleasure of knowing several Vietnam vets in the last few years. One of them was a very close friend and mentor to me. He has passed away. The other two range somewhere between casual friends and acquaintances.

All three of those gentlemen deployed to Vietnam during the war. One of them was a helicopter pilot who routinely came under direct fire and also fired on the enemy himself. One of those times when his aircraft came under fire, a bullet came through the windscreen or instrument panel, went through his flight helmet, and struck him in the side of the head, first knocking out some of his teeth and then tearing up the side of his head near his temple. This knocked him out. The copilot took over. There were other casualties on the helicopter. When the helo landed, and they were removing the living casualties they left my friend believing he was dead. Of course, they ended up discovering he wasn't. He went on to recuperate from the injuries and continued his military career into the early 80's, and after retiring from active duty continued to work for the government.

The other two never got hurt. I've never heard them talk about taking fire or being in combat. One of them was a aircraft maintenance person and the other was a supply clerk or something along those lines.

Of the three one of them constantly wears a "Vietnam Veteran" hat, the other occasionally wears one. Two of the three seem to be talk about Vietnam every time I am in their presence.

Guess which one never wears the hat and only talks about his experiences if someone else brings it up?

Make no mistake, I appreciate the service of all three of them, and I don't begrudge them being proud of their service. And I don't believe one has to be a commando or be shot at to be appreciated. Just being in the military is a hell of a sacrifice, not to mention deploying to a war zone, even if the only job there is counting bolts or changing the oil on jeeps. There's no one with "boots on the ground" who isn't essential to the overall effort.

I also concede that all this is very anecdotal, but I have noticed a distinct pattern - the people who have the most to brag about usually brag the least.
Eric

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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby KevinM » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:18 pm

My father and uncle (father's older brother by 18 months) both served in WWII. My Dad was in the Navy and fought in the Pacific theater and my uncle was in the army and fought in Europe. My dad told a couple of Navy stories, but only the funny or basically non-military nonsense they did from time to time. I never heard him speak about actual battle or combat situations. I suspected part of that was due to my Dad being on a Naval vessel and not seeing hand to hand to combat per se, just firing volleys and anti-aircraft rounds. My uncle who was in the Army never spoke of his military days. I was well into adulthood when my Dad told me my uncle was in the infamous Battle of the Bulge and how the soldiers had to scavage for supplies, boots, coats, etc. from the dead to keep warm and alive. They were both very proud of their service and both were members of their local Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) posts, but never bragadocious about their service at all.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby Dodger » Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:27 pm

KevinM wrote: I never heard him speak about actual battle or combat situations.

That is par for the course .My father was in the Merchant Navy 1939-51 and only told the funny ones .

His favourite was one trip from Bristol to New York in 40/41 .When the crew turned up to sail they found that was an unarmed policeman guarding the gangplank ,and the forward hold was locked and out of bounds ,so they knew something unusual was happening .
On arrival in New York they were greeted by 2 armoured cars and some police armed with Thompson machine guns .They had been carrying gold bullion from the Bank of England to safety at Fort Knox .
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby gnossos » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:29 am

My dad was in Vietnam, he says he didn't see fighting but was near it but he doesn't tell many stories unless he's a few drinks in. He has a couple funny stories about coming back, like when they had everyone stand at attention with a footlocker in front of them. Officers said they had to put all contraband in it when they left the room, if any was found after that point there would be Consequences. They left and when they came back it was overflowing. I guess he once said that there were folks they locked in dark rooms with rats for not wanting to work or fight or something. There are a couple like that that and a few other details that make me think he may have seen more, but he's pretty right in the head so it couldn't have been too bad compared to others.

He did say he hit someone with a barstool after someone tried to take his seat when he went to the bathroom right upon arrival home. No Vet plates, no Vet hats, no old uniforms tucked away, nothing. Kind of surprising, my buddy who did tours in Iraq and actually did see some not-great stuff at least has his vet plates for some help in case he gets pulled over. He used to have dress blues but I don't know what he did with them, and he's a giant hippie now.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby gnossos » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:32 am

That's actually an interesting aside - Iraq. For some reason everyone talks about Vietnam vets with PTSD but I think there's a whole generation of military members that get kind of pushed under the rug in this society since it's still so close timewise. My buddy did OK despite what he saw, I mean there are some things, especially right when he got home, but I met some other folks he was there with who are real, real fucked up.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:09 pm

gnossos wrote:That's actually an interesting aside - Iraq. For some reason everyone talks about Vietnam vets with PTSD but I think there's a whole generation of military members that get kind of pushed under the rug in this society since it's still so close timewise. My buddy did OK despite what he saw, I mean there are some things, especially right when he got home, but I met some other folks he was there with who are real, real fucked up.


I couldn't agree more with this post. And many of those soldiers are mere youngsters. They deserve support.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:11 pm

gnossos wrote:He did say he hit someone with a barstool after someone tried to take his seat when he went to the bathroom...


Par for the course in Greenock.
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby Dodger » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:34 pm

ScotsJim wrote:
gnossos wrote:He did say he hit someone with a barstool after someone tried to take his seat when he went to the bathroom...


Par for the course in Greenock.

They have barstools now?
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:56 pm

Dodger wrote:
ScotsJim wrote:
gnossos wrote:He did say he hit someone with a barstool after someone tried to take his seat when he went to the bathroom...


Par for the course in Greenock.

They have barstools now?


Only in the more upmarket establishments matey.

I drank in a public bar back in the late 70's/ early 80's in Greenock that only had one table, two chairs, and a ripped linoleum floor. At least, unlike my usual local pub, they served beer in real glasses and not plastic tumblers. See me ? See class ?
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby Dodger » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:11 pm

ScotsJim wrote:I drank in a public bar back in the late 70's/ early 80's in Greenock that only had one table, two chairs, and a ripped linoleum floor.

That is how I remember it Jim .
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:04 am

Dodger wrote:
ScotsJim wrote:I drank in a public bar back in the late 70's/ early 80's in Greenock that only had one table, two chairs, and a ripped linoleum floor.

That is how I remember it Jim .


Those were the daze eh ? ;) :lol:
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby Dodger » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:10 am

ScotsJim wrote:
Dodger wrote:
ScotsJim wrote:I drank in a public bar back in the late 70's/ early 80's in Greenock that only had one table, two chairs, and a ripped linoleum floor.

That is how I remember it Jim .


Those were the daze eh ? ;) :lol:

I mostly remember the scars and tattoos and that was just the women! :o
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Re: What Did You Do In The War Dad?

Postby ScotsJim » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:09 pm

Dodger wrote:I mostly remember the scars and tattoos and that was just the women! :o

Your taste in women is your own affair matey ;)
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