What did your grandparents/parents/uncle/aunt/self do in WW2? Were they a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine? Did they work the Home Front, riviting together bombers or welding tanks? Let me know!
As part of the Cabaret's continuing salute to WW2 veterens I will, with your permission, mention and honor their service in upcoming episodes of the Cap'n's Cabaret, something i should have done from the start of this series, frankly.
Any interested parties?
My maternal grandfather, John Dudash, was killed in some kind of air accident at a base in Georgia in 1943 or 44 I believe. My mother has tried and tried to find out more about him and what happened but has had no luck. I've also looked everywhere on the internet and have found nothing. I guess some place where they kept a lot of military records burnt sometime in the 50s or 60s and he has all but vanished from existence. My step-grandfather was in the Army at Fort Dix and he worked with the mail in some fashion. Grandma worked on the base briefly then moved to where my new grandfather grew up after the war.
On my paternal side, it was all farming. They did have a local air patrol where the local men would gather on top the highest hill in the area and watch for planes. My dad can remember being take along to these meetings.
My grandfather, a commissioned officer of the Red Army, was killed in action near Sevastopol, Crimea, in October 1942. His brother, uncle Nathan, was sent with his regiment to Iran in 1941, and served there until 1946.
The other grandfather died before the war, in 1937. His elder brother, uncle Sandro (an artist who lived in Paris since 1923), was arrested by the French police in 1942. He was held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver together with thousands of other Parisian Jews, then sent to the Drancy internment camp and from there eastwards, to Auschwitz. He didn't survive.
My dad was an apprentice motor mechanic in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. He learned his trade rebuilding trucks for the US marines based here. As they worked their way up through the Pacific, they'd bring shiploads of trucks back to NZ where they were rebuilt for the next campaign. Nobody talks about those days very much. Marines would come to NZ, train for a landing, and too often that's the last anyone in NZ would hear of them. Dad kept in touch with one marine, who I met about ten years ago when he toured New Zealand with his wife. A few years ago on a delivery trip my shipmates and I stopped at Tarawa, the scene of one of the worst battles of the Pacific campaign. I was on a Russian yacht and my crew-mates were all Russians. We visited some gun placements with battle scars from the US landing, and we anchored near the beach where the marines landed (taking shocking casualties). That was a very sobering experience and it made me think about my father, rebuilding battle-damaged trucks and probably wondering who among his American friends might have survived those battles. We all came away from Tarawa with a deep respect for the US Marine Corps. Nationally, NZ and Russia suffered terrible casualties during WWII, but without the US Marine Corps both countries would have been far worse off. If you're going to celebrate anyone's contribution, you really must include the US Marines.
My Grandfather survived the sinking of HMS Dorsetshire in the Indian Ocean, by Japanese dive bombers in April 1942. He was also onboard when the Dorsetshire was involved in the sinking of the Bismarck.
He said that when the Dorsetshire was hit, he was knocked unconscious (I think he was down below, loading shells to be taken up to the guns - but can't remember exactly). An officer found him and helped him to safety - but the officer died during the attack. He always told us, that if it wasn't for that man, none of us would be around today.
He spent a day in the water, being strafed by Japanese fighters and attacked by sharks. He rarely spoke about any of this, and when he did, the look in his eyes showed how much it still haunted him.
Fascinating and sobering stories. Thank you all and thank your families for their service and sacrifice. I'll be happy to honor them in a upcomming episodes of the Cabaret if I can get a) their name & rank/position (first name alone or full name, as you prefer) and b) your permission to do so.
In all truth, I have always wished that I would have been able to pry the full stories of my family's war histories from them. Unfortunately, like many who serve, they all to a man remained very tight lipped regarding their service records. The little that I was able to garner over the years was very little indeed. In respect to them I will not give their names or units. Yet I am extremely proud of them and firmly believe that ALL who served should be remembered.
My father served in the Marshall and Solomon Islands as a Navy Aviation Machinist's Mate keeping those Navy and Marine fighters airborne. He participated in occasional flights as a spotter/technician on the PBY's that were the real love of his life.
My closes uncle served in the Army in Burma, and that was about all he would say on the matter. Yet, intriguingly to me, on his passing one of the few items I inherited from him was a cigarette case handed out to Doolittle's Raiders inscribed on the cover with a rough map of the China coast and environs. How he came by it, I will now never know.
Another uncle served in the Army and survived the D-Day invasion and the march to Berlin.
I would also like to mention another non family member who was also a very close neighbor and friend of the family. He served in the Pacific aboard a submarine. When their sub was caught on the surface, hit and sinking he saved three of his fellow crewman by shoving them out of a hatch ahead of him. He was not able to follow them. I, as first born, was given the honor of receiving his name of Daniel.
Thanks, Cap'n Tony. We should ALL never forget!
My mom and dad were secretly married prior to the war so she wouldn't lose her job as a telephone operator. When my dad signed up and became a SeaBee in the US Navy, my mom then quit and went to work in a 105mm shell factory while my dad was overseas as a ground mechanic with the 93rd SeaBee Battalion. My dad came home and returned to his job, and my mother settled down to raise my brother and i.
My dad lost two brothers on the USS Chicago in the battle of the Coral Sea when it was struck by torpedoes in the boilers and sank swiftly. They thought they had lost three but one was found later by an Aussie coast watcher.
Also one of his brothers was lost in Europe but i have no info other than that.
My maternal grandmother was a Rosie the Riveter building the seats for tanks.
I had an uncle who had been working in the CCC and got bored so he joined the Marines. Then one day he and the others were awakened and called out to be told, "Boys, someplace called Pearl Harbor just got bombed. Your boot camp is over." He then spent the rest of the war island hoping across the Pacific as a tank driver. Ironically, probably the same one's my maternal grandmother, his future mother-in-law, was helping to build. My uncle told me that he had survived the destruction of five tanks, which I consider amazing considering how deadly it was to be inside one when it was hit.
Like so many of the rest of the Greatest Generation, they have both past on to the Great Mystery.
My own paternal grandfather volunteered for the navy based on the (incorrect) assumption that you'd either end up totally unhurt or dead on-ship, never disfigured or dismenbered (since it'd sink, of course!). As a mechanical engineer with GM, the government refused to accept him in military service, assuming (correctly) that he was of far more use to the nation right where he was. Instead he continued to work with GM designing instrumentation equipment for the USAAF bombers GM was now making.
My maternal grandpa worked for Bendix, assembling gyros for military vehicles. My uncle followed him into Bendix after the war and retired from it not long after it got bought out in the 80's. My paternal step-grandpa served in the Navy, but I never heard what he did or where.
Neither of my grandmothers ever served as a "Rosie the Rivetter", instead remaining housewives. But my wife's grandmother did, in Washington DC, in the first world war. That war proved to be an amazingly liberating experience for a farm girl out of Pennsylvania, and she talked a lot about it to my wife as a kid
Thank you all for sharing your stories, and thank all your family members their service!
Will you be honouring both sides?
I know that I would honor and want to hear all sides. One thing that my North Texas Dieselpunks group emphasizes is that Dieselpunks don't shy away from the truth of the past.
Besides we all have ancestors that either held the wrong belief's, did wrong things, or fought for the wrong side. For example, I have some ancestors who were slave owners, some who fought for the South during the Civil Wars, and later some who supported Jim Crow laws.
I always say, we can't choose our ancestors but we can choose who we are.
So please, I would like to hear all family stories.
Will you be honouring both sides?
I have no idea what my paternal grandfather did during WWII but I suppose he just went about his daily business. My maternal grandfather on the other hand was in the Danish resistance against the Nazi occupation. He died before I was born though, and I don't think he ever talked much about what he did. I could look into it,but I think I might find things weren't the way I've been told.