What are your family anecdotes from WW2

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by bydand31, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. skiptotheend

    skiptotheend Member

    That is funny!
  2. JPP

    JPP Junior Member

    As told to me by a corporal, 2 OXF BUCKS, an incident which occurred in the Ardennes January 1945 (my uncle was his platoon commander)

    The platoon carried out regular morning patrols on the banks of the River Mass. One morning they noticed an overweight German NCO riding a bicycle towards a tented area which turned out to be mobile ablutions. The platoon hit the ground and concealed themselves amongst the foliage. Platoon commander radioed a request for an artillery stonk on the German ablutions which soon followed with precise accuracy.

    Loud explosions accompanied high flying WCs leaving the sky a khaki haze as a ghastly aroma hung in the East wind.

    Through the bronze mist appeared the German NCO covered from head to foot and limping badly as he pushed his buckled bicycle towards the riverside track. The platoon cheered loudly as they saw the German soldier off with an appropriate an exchange of hand gestures.
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  3. Andsco

    Andsco Well-Known Member

    Thomas Johnson Scott. Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

    Although my father seen action in Italy and NW Europe his twin brother on the other hand things were different.
    He was sent to the far East in Oct 41 and he was captured Feb 42 in Singapore by the Japanese and spent the remainder of the war as a POW.
    On the day of his expected return home the family had arranged a welcome home party with flags and banners, but as the day wore on there was no sign of Thomas so a search party was sent out to look for him. Eventually he was found in the PUB!! apparently he was too embarrassed to go home as he'd not done any fighting. To me anyone who spent time in Jap POW camp has my total respect.
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  4. Keith Burkitt

    Keith Burkitt Member

    Keith G Burkitt, Royal Signals

    He didn't speak much of the war, but here are some things he told me

    1. in Iraq, the natives used to sneak into the camp and steal rifles, so the men would tie them to their arms. The someone got their arm cut off. They eventually got a unit of Ghurkas who LOVED the night fighting
    2. (Told to my stepmother once) He was once tasked to go down and pull waterlogged bodies out of the Mediterranean and search for intel after the RAF wrecked an Italian convoy. I guess arms and legs came off.
    3. "When the Welsh Guards weren't out parading around they operated as a motorized unit (or something with armored cars, I forget the exact terminology), it was hilarious to watch 6' tall men scramble in and out of small armored cars"
    4. He told this, but I'm not clear if he was there or just relaying the story. After Tobruk a bunch of South Africans went into a bar in Cairo and some Australians started taunting them, telling them they looked tired and must have run all the way from Tobruk and started a giant bar brawl/riot
    5. "The colonials were usually superior soldiers but treated as inferior men" (That stuck with me)
    6. I love this one, it speaks to his humility and his sense of humor. I noticed he seldom said "I" when talking about the war. It was always we.
    "Well, after Dunkirk, we were just sitting around at Catterick so I started boxing. Became the bantamweight champion. British rules, big padded gloves so no one got hurt"
    "Wait, you were at Dunkirk?"
    "Yeah, pretty much everyone was"
    "And how was that?"
    "Regrettably no time for sightseeing, they rushed us out for some reason"
    7. The one that brings tears to my eyes. I was 7 years old and he had a wall sized world map and he was showing me where he had been and explaining a world war in the manner you would when speaking to a child. At dinner that night we were sitting around the table.

    "Grandpa, I want to be like you when I grow up"
    "Well, if you want to design cars you'll need to do better with your maths"
    "No, I want to be a soldier"
    Brief Pause
    "No, you don't"

    Not military related, but funny nonetheless

    As an American, we don't celebrate boxing day. We had a class project in 4th grade to find out what boxing day was over Christmas break and report back. Since grandad was English I immediately asked him.

    "What's boxing day?"
    "Well, it's the day after Christmas. You've got your presents and you don't have to behave for Santa anymore, so it's when everyone fights"
    ::Grandma has that look like "I'll allow it, but we are gonna talk about the things you teach this child::

    Schools back in session. I run in and breathlessly tell the whole class, on Grandad's Brittanic authority, that Boxing day is for fighting.

    Teacher: Um, no, that's not quite it. Anyone else?
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  5. Andsco

    Andsco Well-Known Member

    In relation to your first story Keith,œ this is something I was told by my mother so I'm not sure how much truth there is in it.
    My dad served in N Africa & Middle East and often had trouble with natives trying to get into camps to steal, they also had Ghurka guards at night where there was no messing around, he would often find in the morning a hand that had been chopped off a would be thief.
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  6. Keith Burkitt

    Keith Burkitt Member

    They may have been in the same theater at the same time. I notice your profile picture. Grandad told me once he was with a runner for an engineering outfit in the Fall of France; he later became a vehicle mechanic for the AASC . He had a tattoo of a horse leaping over what my dad thought was a horseshoe, it wasn't really visible and I think he hid it in pictures intentionally. I've cross reference just about every unit with a horse in the symbol (cav units, 9th army etc) But dad swears it's not it. But I've got this wild idea to send my dad that symbol and see if it rings bell with that tattoo.

    I know for sure he was Royal Signals. The timeline is as follows:

    Enlistment to after Dunkirk: "With an Engineering outfit". He also said he got out fairly early, because he "had a bike" (motorcycle)
    Dunkirk to Iraq/Iran/Syria and Eventually El Alamein/Tunisia he was with 5AASC
    Sicily onwards I believe he was with No 1 ASSU, and ASSU units were just evolutions of the AASC concepts based on lessons learned in the desert campaign.

    It's difficult to track down specifics for many signalmen simply because they were farmed out to units and didn't really operate in formations of their own.
  7. twinotterpilot

    twinotterpilot Active Member

    My father was born in Gillingham, Kent in 1927, and lived there until we emigrated to Canada in 1962. He was a member of 213 ATC Squadron gaining the rank of Flight Sergeant. In 1944, he kept a diary up until October, noting for the most part the types and number of aircraft seen. One example from Sunday, Feb 20, 1944

    Saw 22 Mustangs, 24 Mustangs out. Also saw 30 Thunderbolts, and 13 Forts home. Saw a Stirling, an Oxford,a Sunderland, a Mosquito. Gale blowing-all snow has cleared. Went to A.T.C.
    Siren sounded 2135 hrs. Heavy guns-many German aircraft-bomb fell near. A fire burning Gravesend direction and another Maidstone way. All clear 2242 hrs.

    There is a listing for June 6, but not the most informative.
    Many Marauders out before dawn- 3 collided - crashed in Gillinghgam. INVASION OF FRANCE BEGAN AT 0600 HRS. 11,000 1st line aircraft engaged. 4,000 ships and many thousands more landing craft.

    96 Forts out; 72 Thunderbolts out; 40 Liberators and 8 Thunderbolts out (many more above clouds) 8 Tornado's home, 17 Marauders home; 8 Thunderbolts out; 4 Lightnings home; Douglas Dakota (troop carrier) home; 16 Lightnings out; 5 Liberators home; 1 Fort home; 71 Marauders out; Wellington III out; 16 Lightnings out;
    Many Mosquitos, Mustangs and big 4 engined transports out after dark.

    A partial from Sept 10, 1944

    Heard artillery fire from battle over in France. - continuous rumbling.

    But my anecdote is the story that as a young teenager and in the ATC, Dad and his friends, would go souvenir hunting for spent shells, casing, bomb splinters and the like. As a lark they would throw rock and stones at the small unexploded bombs that were often left after raids. I don't recall him ever telling us they were successful or not.
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  8. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    My great uncle grew up in Sage, a very small village southwest of Oldenburg.
    He had a few stories to tell.

    The most interesting was the discovery of a Volkssturm bicycle equipped with two bazookas. At that time, the area was littered with war equipment that had been left behind.
    Well, he and his friends had taken the usual crash course in anti-tank warfare in the Hitler Youth and therefore knew how to use them.
    A few kilometres away, a Canadian tank had broken down. And as enthusiastic 14/15-year-olds, they wanted to put their expertise into practice on that tank.
    His buddy Gerrit K. at the time was the first to go. But his round only hit the driver's hatch, which flew away with a lot of noise. Of course, that wasn't worth a Knight's Cross!
    So it was my great uncle's turn to save the honour of the young would-be tank-busters: Remarkably, he hit the tank - which then blew up with spectacular fireworks.
    Unfortunately, this resulted in the Canadians imposing a very strict curfew on the village for several days because of the "danger of werewolves".

    As a result, my great-uncle - much to his chagrin - was not allowed to brag about his "heroic deed" for many years, because otherwise he would certainly have received a severe beating from the adults.....
    But until his death he said - usually after a lot of beer: "I would have earned my tank destruction badge, that's for sure!"

    Other times, other values.....
  9. Andsco

    Andsco Well-Known Member

    My profile picture is the badge for the REME which was only formed in Oct 42( 2 years after Dunkirk) with the amalgamation of RAOC, RE & RASC. I also don't think it was the original badge, this one was created in 1947 with the original being more of a compass image below.
    My dad wasn't at Dunkirk as he was originally in Royal Artillery on AA batteries, transferred to RAOC then REME where his first overseas posting to N Africa was after Alamein. He did however go to Sicily and then Italy. Likewise it's difficult, because they farmed out to different units it's hard to pin him down.

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  10. Steve Haitch

    Steve Haitch Member

    I haven't been on the site in a while, enjoying what I read in this thread.

    I've posted some of my Uncle Les' capture and escape memoir as images previously. I've been transcribing it over the last while, and here is an entertaining anecdote. Not many amusing stories from prison camps.

    "At the centre of this camp there was a long latrine. It must have been at least a forty seater. It was about four foot above the ground with steps up at each end. One end was near the British and Canadian section and the other end was near the civilian section. I never did find out where the Americans went. The latrine was covered to protect the occupants from the rain. To protect the users from the public gaze the Germans had wrapped burlap around both sides and the ends except where the entrances were. It did show a bit of sensitivity by the Germans.

    Being of a rather retiring nature, I waited until there was not one in the latrine, then I entered and got myself comfortably established on one of the seats. I was not in any particular hurry as there was nothing better to do. I was contemplating the universe asking myself if it was unfolding as it was intended to do, when to my amazement, surprise and consternation a beautiful young girl entered at the other end.

    Just think, here I was thirty years old, newly married, away from my wife for nearly a year, in tip top physical condition from chasing tanks across the South Downs of England and my glands were in great condition too.

    You all remember the song, “Did you ever see a dream walking?” Well I did. This was the girl they had in mind when I composed the song! In fact I sat there transfixed as I thought I had died and gone to heaven or I was having a hallucination. What a predicament! I had been taught that a gentleman should always rise when a lady approached. I had arisen all right. This girl was not jail bait. She was obviously at the age of consent. She smiled at me and floated down the full length of the platform, up with her dress, down with her panties and sat down on the seat next to me, chatting gaily to me all the while. I regretted that I did not speak French and I doubt if I could have answered her if I did. She finished her business, bid me aurevoir and tripped back from whence she had come. It certainly was a hard time for me and it took me some time to disengage myself from that seat. I came out of there a wild-eyed blithering idiot mumbling to myself."

    Les swears this story is true at the end of his memoir in his Writer's Comments when he says, "I did use a bit of poetic license in the latrine episode but again it was true. The girl did come and sit down beside me in the latrine."
  11. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Dad told me he first learned that Germany had surrendered when he got out of his tent one morning and saw that his captain had shaved. He had said he wasn't going to shave until the war was over.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
  12. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Hilarious! And I'm a New Yorker too :)

    That's exactly how Curly from the Three Stooges would say it.
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  13. Peter Bentley

    Peter Bentley New Member

    Here is a tough one
    My Grandfather went to Palestine in 1938 for a 2 year tour aged 57 as a Captain prev service WW1 Labour Corps Major Mesopotamia languages of Tamil Hindustani Arabic. The rumor is he worked for MI6 SIME etc following 1914 - 1916 Indian Service in the Crown Colonies (the Colonial Office I recall held the purse strings of MI6 etc in the interwar years) So does anyone know where how I can verify this all Pop's records after 1922 (confirmed Captain IARO) He seems to have vanished and MI6 wont talk to me nor do MOD have any records.

    Happy to Chat
    Peter Bentley
  14. Richard Luther

    Richard Luther New Member

    Scan_20190130 (8).png Scan_20190130 (8).png Scan_20190130 (8).png There was a story in our family that I heard while growing up. My dad began his service as part of US Army Harbor Craft Company.( his DD214 lists Northern France and Normandy as campaigns he was in. It lists his MOS as Marine Engineer )
    I have several pictures of him on ST98. The story is as follows and is from childhood memories...some may be foggy memories for sure. The family story goes this way, my dad was involved in operation around Cherbourg, France. The vessel he was serving on was hit and sunk by German fire. He floated in Channel for some time, trying to hold up his best friend who had been injured in sinking. The kapok life jackets would water log very quickly and it was very hard to keep both of them above water. At some point, no idea of a timeline here, a British ship, ( here I seem to recall family saying it was British Destroyer ) picked up my dad and others and took them back to England.
    I have on internet story that a convoy, ST98 was attacked and several were sunk

    I do know that at some time later, Dad was transferred to a land unit and led a platoon

    Scan_20190129 (2).png

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