What did your family members do in WWII?

Started by Jacob, September 02, 2020, 05:20:06 PM

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Jacob

Today is the 75th anniversary of the end of the War.  What did your parents/grandparents, aunts, and/or uncles do?

My mom's dad worked on the railroad here in Iowa.  When the US entered the war, his job was vital to the war effort, so he kept on doing that.

My dad's dad went into the Army and eventually volunteered for the unit known as Merrill's Marauders that fought in Burma.  It completed all its objectives, but by the end most of its members were no longer fit for duty due to misuse in combat, disease, and poor rations.
"Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time."
--Neal Stephenson

Hannelore

My grandma volunteered to do war work, drilling bullets in a factory when she was 15. She was the only girl bullet-driller all the rest were boys. She was injured in a firebombing raid, and then she and her mother fled to the countryside. She used to pass by a POW camp on her way to school, and throw candy or whatever she had to an American Captain on the other side of the fence. After the war, this Captain ran into her again and gave her a huge rucksack full of rations. Food was scarce at the time, and those rations kept her and her mother going for months. She had to trade all of her pretty kimono for food. They lost two houses to the bombs: one in Yokohama and one in Shizuoka.
My Lord and my God.

abc123

Both of my grandfathers were in the Navy and served honorably in the Pacific theatre.

They didn't shovel shit in Louisiana.

Greg

#3
Bombed Germany (my uncle was bomb aimer}.  Defended Stalingrad shot in arm and invaded Berlin, wife's Grandfather retired as a Russian Colonel. My grandfather on mother's side was an officer in the British Navy which he joined long before WW2 so immediately left in September 1939 in the middle of their family holiday when war was declared.  I think he served mostly in Aden and Middle East on naval ships.  He rose to Lieutenant Commander, I think, and retired with the rank of Commander.
Contentment is knowing that you're right. Happiness is knowing that someone else is wrong.

christulsa

#4
My great-grandfather, a half-Jewish Lutheran, protested in the town square over Hitler killing the Jews, for that he was imprisoned in Auschwitz.  Months later my great-grandmother got a knock at the door, given a box with her husband's ashes, told he died of natural causes at Auschwitz.  He was in his early 40s and in good health. 

Frank

Quote from: Bernadette on September 02, 2020, 05:39:51 PM
My grandma volunteered to do war work, drilling bullets in a factory when she was 15. She was the only girl bullet-driller all the rest were boys. She was injured in a firebombing raid, and then she and her mother fled to the countryside. She used to pass by a POW camp on her way to school, and throw candy or whatever she had to an American Captain on the other side of the fence. After the war, this Captain ran into her again and gave her a huge rucksack full of rations. Food was scarce at the time, and those rations kept her and her mother going for months. She had to trade all of her pretty kimono for food. They lost two houses to the bombs: one in Yokohama and one in Shizuoka.
When I started reading your post I assumed your mother was in England though I thought it odd
that she should be making munitions at the age of 15. Then I realised she must have been in
Germany which would account for the American POW.  It was only at the end that the full picture
became apparent.

I'm afraid that after the war the people of my generation were left with a great antipathy towards
all things Japanese because of their cruelty towards allied prisoners of war  - in contrast to the
Germans who by and large stuck to the Geneva conventions.

Some colleagues of mine even went  so far as to refuse to see Japanese visitors who visited our
research establishment.

Your moving account shows that there are kind people everywhere.
in principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum
hoc erat in principio apud Deum
omnia per ipsum facta sunt et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est

paul14

#6
Quote from: Frank on September 03, 2020, 02:46:03 AMWhen I started reading your post I assumed your mother was in England though I thought it odd
that she should be making munitions at the age of 15. Then I realised she must have been in
GermanyJapan which would account for the American POW.  It was only at the end that the full picture
became apparent.

FIFY

Quote from: Frank on September 03, 2020, 02:46:03 AM
Your moving account shows that there are kind people everywhere.

The best two bosses I ever had were Japanese.

The worst was a cat lady (total psycho!).  She reminded me of a Nursery Rhyme.

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good, she was very very good
But when she was bad she was horrid.








paul14


Jayne

My father was a high school student who, as the other boys did, trained part-time to become soldiers after graduation.  The war, however, ended before he was called up.  His somewhat older cousins served in the Canadian Forces.  Two died, one during a raid on Malta where he was in hospital and the other was shot down while participating in the "Dam Busters" mission.



Another cousin, who survived WWII, went on to fight in the Korean War as part of the heroic Princess Patricia Regiment.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

drummerboy

At home my maternal grandmother worked in an aluminum mill, my great-grandfather was an air raid warden.  A great-uncle was previously enlisted in the navy but honorably discharged due to illness, otherwise he would have served.  My paternal grandfather's knee would occasionally pop out, otherwise he would have served as well, but he was a farmer so he undoubtedly did his part anyhow. 

A great uncle on my father's side was an Army medic when the Philippines were invaded, fate unknown other than being KIA, its probable he ended up in the Bataan death march from some family research though.

My maternal grandfather was drafted mid-1941, and trained in Louisiana before the war.  He was initially trained as a machine gunner, but from what I can learn from newspaper articles my grandmother saved, it seems him and a few other soldiers formed an impromptu dance band, which became the 32nd division dance band.  He was in the 32nd division, which, after war was declared, was deployed to Australia to defend against the anticipated Japanese invasion, and eventually became the longest serving unit in the US military during the war, also the most decorated (my grandfather was awarded the Bronze Star himself).  He was personally in the New Guinea and Philippines campaigns, but traveled extensively due to putting on shows for the troops.  The band provided the ceremonial music for the reestablishment of the Philippine Republic as well.
He did not just play music though, as he would be on guard and KP duty, and, I suspect, would probably bring supplies to the front and bring wounded back, the historic role of musicians in battle when not playing.  He never spoke of the war, apart from mentioning "washmachine Charlie," a nickname for a rickety engine Japanese patrol plane which would fly over at night and drop small bombs to harass the GI's, so he obviously witnessed grisly stuff; we know what we do from newspaper clippings.  He was shipped back in July (?) of 1945 (he weighed only 90lbs)  and married my grandmother that September.
"My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit.  Holy Trinity, glory to You." 
"All my hope I place in you, O Mother of God; keep me under your protection."

maryslittlegarden

My uncle was in the navy from 1944-46.  My great uncle was in the army, not sure exactly which years... .
For a Child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace

The Harlequin King

My American grandfather was a signal corps officer for the Army in Alaska. My Indonesian grandfather was a teacher during the occupation of the "Dutch East Indies" by Japan.

Vetus Ordo

Quote from: The Harlequin King on September 03, 2020, 02:17:28 PM
My American grandfather was a signal corps officer for the Army in Alaska. My Indonesian grandfather was a teacher during the occupation of the "Dutch East Indies" by Japan.

I don't think I've ever asked you this but was your Indonesian grandfather a Muslim, HK?
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.

The Harlequin King

Quote from: Vetus Ordo on September 03, 2020, 03:32:50 PM
I don't think I've ever asked you this but was your Indonesian grandfather a Muslim, HK?

No. That side of the family comes from North Sulawesi, which is one of the only regions of Indonesia that has a majority-Christian population. It was an area that was heavily affected by Dutch missionary activity... although as a whole, the Dutch were certainly nowhere near as missionary-oriented as the Spanish or Portuguese, and so Indonesia is now the world's largest Muslim country. At any rate, my grandfather's second language was Dutch.

Vetus Ordo

Quote from: The Harlequin King on September 03, 2020, 03:40:33 PM
Quote from: Vetus Ordo on September 03, 2020, 03:32:50 PM
I don't think I've ever asked you this but was your Indonesian grandfather a Muslim, HK?

No. That side of the family comes from North Sulawesi, which is one of the only regions of Indonesia that has a majority-Christian population. It was an area that was heavily affected by Dutch missionary activity... although as a whole, the Dutch were certainly nowhere near as missionary-oriented as the Spanish or Portuguese, and so Indonesia is now the world's largest Muslim country. At any rate, my grandfather's second language was Dutch.

Ah, the famous Celebes. That island was reached first by Portuguese explorers but I'm not sure they established a permanent mission there like they did in Timor, Flores or Solor.

Your grandfather was Dutch Reformed, then. Did that heritage pass on to the rest of the family in any way?
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.