Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

What did your family do in WW2? (Chance to honor them in the Cap'n's Cabaret!)

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?

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My Father's older brother, Pvt Donald Davis, was killed in action on the 3rd March 1945 during the allied advance into Germany. He was fighting with the Highland Light Infantry, having been called up at the age of nineteen a few days before he was due to start work as a chemist.

In 1938 my Grandfather worked in the royal naval dockyard in Singapore, but was transferred back home to the naval dockyard in Sheerness along with my father and his brother. This was quite a lucky escape considering the fate of those who remained in Singapore when it was occupied by the Japanese forces.

He was later transferred to the naval dockyard in Malta. The convoy that took him there was attacked by German U boats, and friends of his who were travelling on other ships in the convoy were killed after being torpedoed. Once in Malta he spent most of his time living and working in caves to escape the constant German air attacks. We believe he was involved with early radar systems, but he wouldn't talk about his work due to having signed a secrets act. The Island of Malta was later awarded the George Cross in recognition of the'heroism and devotion' of it's population during the war.

My maternal grandfather was stationed with the RAF in Southern Rhodesia (as it was then), and so escaped any combat.

My parents were still children during the war. My father was evacuated from his home close to Sheerness dockyard, and sent to live with a family in a small village in Wales. Although well clear of any military or industrial targets, one night a huge German bomb dropped close to the village, probably by a plane that was lost or in trouble. The enormous crater it created was subsequently used as a swimming pool by the local kids.

My grandfather, Philip Langlois, was a ball-turret gunner on two different B-17s, flying out of North Africa. When his tour was up, after 100 missions, he was approached by the OSS because he spoke French and they could use him to gather intelligence in occupied Europe, but he instead chose to return home.

My Great Uncle, George Dinunzio, joined the Army in 1941, before Pearl Harbor, and trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, as well as taking part in exercises throughout the Southeast US. On D-Day, he was with the 8th Infantry, under General Teddy Roosevelt Jr, and landed on Utah beach. Two weeks later he was wounded while clearing the highway south of St. Mere Eglise and was evacuated to England, where a surgeon saved his leg.

Both of them are dead now, but I managed to interview George about his experiences a couple of times, and I have much of Philip's documentation and old photos from his time in the AAF.

My paternal grandfather served in the RAF and spent most of the war in North Arica with a salvage team recovering vehicles and aircraft for scrap. He was the man who announced Germany's surrender in 1945 in the Cairo hotel used as Allied HQ. the entry can still be seen today, my Dad visited there a few years ago specifically to see it.

My maternal grandfather worked the home front as a Special Constable as he was in a protected profession. He and my Nana said the night Coventry was bombed they could see the glow from the fires lighting up the sky from the windows over a hundred miles away.

Great Uncle Charlie jumped into Arnhem in September 1944 for Operation Market Garden and five other uncles served in the Royal Navy, including one who was on shore leave when his ship was torpedoed and went down with all hands in the Med. He later commissioned and served in Korea before retiring in the 1970s.

Great Aunt Jessie was housekeeper to Guy Gibson who led the Operation Chastise from Scampton on the Dambusters raid in 1943, she always said he was arrogant and short tempered, but then he had survived over a hundred and fifty missions flying over Europe.

Sadly none of them are still with us but their sacrifices and efforts live on in the history books and I'm proud to be related to them.

Thanks to all for their service, and yes, all sides are welcome to express their story.

Okay, a bit of an odd one here. My paternal grandfather, who was Anglo-Indian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Indian) transferred from the Indian Army to the British in the 1930s, and so was already serving in Alexandria in Egypt when Britain went to war. This picture of him at the Sphinx was said to have been taken on the day Britain declared war. He was in the Science Corps (pathologist/bacteriologist) attached to the 8th Army, and was with them in North Africa, up through Italy (including at Monte Cassino), and eventually helped in the clear-up at Belsen. He also took part in the post-mortem on Heinrich Himmler. I think my father has most of his wartime photos now. A couple really stick in my mind, one of a German plane and soldiers with it (someone said my grandfather had been captured briefly, but he never mentioned it to me) and one of a sky filled with parachutes.

His brother Walter Alexander ('Bunny') died at the battle of Sittang in Burma. He was Burma born and bred, and signed up with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry when they were in Burma. There's an account of his death here, section 168 onwards, although I have to say it doesn't match the account other relatives who were fighting alongside him have given.

My paternal grandmother was a WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Airforce), I have a splendid photo of her in uniform, and my maternal grandmother was in the Women's Land Army (the land girls and lumberjills helped keep Britain fed and running). My other grandfather was too young to serve.

Attention, all:  I've just finished this week's Cabaret covering the Home Front and included the names or at least job descriptions of the forebearers of all the folks who listed their home front ancestors here.  If any of you object, please let me know asap so I can purge their name.  otherwise, I only hope this little measure can in some way honor their long hours of hard, important work!  Thank you again, all!

Some great stories in this thread - it makes me feel incredibly lucky.  I can't imagine what it must be like to go through these sort of experiences.

No objections here. I'm very proud of them.

Cap'n Tony said:

Attention, all:  I've just finished this week's Cabaret covering the Home Front and included the names or at least job descriptions of the forebearers of all the folks who listed their home front ancestors here.  If any of you object, please let me know asap so I can purge their name.  otherwise, I only hope this little measure can in some way honor their long hours of hard, important work!  Thank you again, all!

My father was an enlisted crew member on a B-29 but was in transit just as Japan surrendered.  Radioman/gunner/backup naviguesser.  My family was from Kirkwood, Mo and attended German school each evening after the too easy English public school.  Just to be safe, the kids that went to German school were sent to the Pacific theater. 

After the war he used his GI Bill and worked his way through vet school as a cowboy.  After he passed away we found his commission as a 2LT but he had never mentioned that. 

My mother was a bit younger but remembers air raid blackout drills since they lived in a river lock town. 

My Grandmother (Claribelle McKnight) was born to a wealthy family in Ohio.  In the 30's, she fell in love with a handsome European foreign exchange student (Wilhelm Trepte), a student of philosophy and history who played the piano.  And so they were married, and moved back to hist home town, living in and managing an apartment complex owned by his family.

And thus my mother was born in Dresden in 1942. 

Opa had joined the navy and served as a Meterologist in Italy; he spent the last years of the war in and English POW camp.  Oma stayed in Dresden until the bombs forced her to move to a farm, and picked up enough Russian (polite and impolite) that when the soldiers showed up, she manged to convince them she was American and should be relocated to allied lines instead of raped along with he neighbors.  Eventually Uncle Sam allowed Opa to move to the US to join the family.

That's right, granddad (like pretty much every other German male of his generation) was a Nazi soldier, and grandma was his Weimaraner Republic loving American princess.  My mother never visitied the city of her childhood until she was in her 50's, because if she had, she would not have been allowed to leave; she was born in East Germany, and so considered an East German citizen.  When she did visit it, she got to take a plane ride and see if from over head... while sitting in the ball turret of a bomber.

My great uncle Seymour Barab played cello in the army orchestra, and his younger brother also enlisted though he never saw action. My paternal gray grand father was in the US navy, I inherited the locket my great grandmother received from him when he went overseas, I also have his pea coat. My family who remained in Europe were put in the concentration camp system. One side was housed in the Kovno ghetto and likely shot. And the other was housed in a small ghetto in Gora Kalwaria. A Polish town outside of Warsaw. They were then moved to the Warsaw ghetto in late February of 1941. From Warsaw they were most likely sent to the Treblinka extermination camp where they were killed. One girl I found on the Yad Vashem database was my age when she was killed, we shared the same name Leah Jablonka and she was killed in Treblinka in 1942. We don't know many details of what happened to the large extended family we left scattered through Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. All we know is we had gotten letters before the war and after the war we heard nothing. Of the cities and villages where our family lived we know something. Gora Kalwaria (Ger in Yiddish) once had a thriving Jewish community of several thousand and was known as the New Jerusalem. After the war 32 Jewish people returned and now only two Jews remain in Ger, both men in their nineties.

My mom always tells me Grandpa enlisted in the Navy. Got tattooed, and was ready to board the ship... Then they got word the war had ended.

My grandpa on my dad's side was supposedly part of the D-Day landings, but I've never heard more than that.

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