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?
somehow this great topic slept beside me...
I'll say a few words about my ancestors as well.
One was serving as a navigator in a bomber, and was transferred from Moscow region to the Far East days before June 22. nearly all of his comrades died in the war, while he have seen action only in 1945 against the Japanese. After the war he tried to bury the feeling of guilt with alcohol, not very successfully.
Another served in the infantry and walked with a machine-gun from Odessa region all the way eastwards, survived and eye-witnessed end of the War in Berlin. After the war he served as a head of Kolkhoz in his home village for a long time. This year is the first in my life when I didn't visit this village and his grave, I used to spend a big part of summer in a house built by him.
Another one chopped a couple of fingers off when the war started and ran away, leaving the family. Still, my grandma (his daughter) met him several times and even visited his another wedding, which also happened during the War, but rather far from the frontlines - in Novosibirsk. His first wife (my great-grandma) married another man, who was serving in rocket artillery, he finished the war commanding the Katyusha battery during the Battle of Königsberg. His bunker received a direct hit from the german artillery, he was the sole survivor, shell-shocked and completely white-haired. He quit the military after the war and later became a factory director in Belarus.
Another one, also from Odessa region, was reported MIA in the first month of war, but now I've found some clues that make me believe he served as a driver and died in the last days of Battle of Stalingrad. I hope I will be able to find his grave some day.
My father was an LAC (Leading aircraftman) In the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) during WW2. He was stationed for some time on an island called Kiriwina, part of the Trobriand Islands (now known as the Kiriwina Islands) off the east coast of New Guinea.
In 1943 this island was occupied by American forces under the command of Douglas McArthur to use as a airbase and staging area for the planned assault on the major Japanese base of Rabaul (captured by the Japanese the previous year).
My fathers role was as ground crew to service, arm and refuel the allied aircraft being used to support the assault. The base was attacked and bombed by Japanese aircraft several times.
After this period he was transferred to another airbase in Australia at a town called Tocumwal, servicing and repairing American and RAAF planes such as Catalinas, Liberators and Mitchells. There he met my mother.
My mother enlisted in the WAAAF (Womens Auxiliary Australian Air Force) in an attempt to escape the drudgery of life on a dairy farm. She was also sent to Tocumwal following basic training where she worked in the quartermasters store, supplying aircraft parts as needed.
Well I'm Lebanese. Lebanon became independent in November, 1943. While Lebanon did join the allies officially in the closing months of the war, my parents and grand parents told me that there were a lot of people who did sign up for the war effort on the allied side, mostly driving trucks and other support roles. Though there were a few combat veterans. I heard that there was a guy with a quite a story to tell, though the only thing I know about it was that he had to hide between a pair of dead bodies to escape the Nazis.
My maternal grandfather did not fight in the war, but he did tell me about the time there was some bombardment on the coastal area near our home town. I have no idea what my paternal grandfather did during the war. I only know he worked as a police officer during this life.
My maternal grandfather Fritz joined the Kriegsmarine when he was 17 in 1939. He wanted to see the world, as he told later. Indeed he was on an U-Boot, mostly somewhere around northern Norway and Greenland. In 1944 he came to the Wehrmacht somewhere at the western front. There he became a P.O.W. of the Americans. My grandmother and her family didn't like the Nazis very much, and my grandmother had some trouble because she didn't want to go to the "BDM"-meetings. (BDM, Bund Deutscher Mädel, was for the girls of the "Hitler Jugend"). In early 1945 there were a group of french POWs in the house of my grandmothers parents, to work and repair war damages. Officially it was strictly forbidden to talk to them, but my great grandmother invited them always for lunch together with the rest of the family.
My other grandfather has more dark spots on his vest: He was in the SS. My grandmother was working at a "Lebensborn" (fount of life) hospital, where she met my grandfather and became pregnant two times from him. They never married, that was not in the philosophy of "Lebensborn". Shortly before the war ended my grandmother came with her 2 sons (from the same father) to Berlin, where a sister of my grandmother was working at the Gestapo. After the war they left to Western Germany, the "Gestapo sister" worked after the war for the US Army in Frankfurt. As I've heared the father of my father became after the war a policeman in Braunschweig, where he married and had several children. My father never had any contact to him, but he met one of his half-brothers.
My mother was just ten years old when WWII ended, so obviously she was just doing the student thing during the war. My father, on the other hand, was a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore when Pearl Harbor happened. He had been drafted, naturally, like many of the other men his age. But my dad had cerebral palsy, so he was rejected as 4F. But while he was at college, somebody from the government came around to the university, recruiting young men in the math and science departments. I'm not entirely sure who it was from the government; I was under the impression it was the OSS, but it may have simply been the Navy.
Anyway, Dad was a chemistry major, so they asked him to help. The cerebral palsy made any sort of physical stuff pretty much impossible (though Dad did eventually get very well trained in judo). But, according to Dad, the cerebral palsy also made for the perfect camouflage: who would suspect the government of recruiting a cripple, right? So he ended up doing counter espionage for the Navy, a civilian attache with the equivalent rank of Ensign. It sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually was. He said he spent a lot of time hanging around in bars and other places where soldiers and sailors congregated; if he heard anything interesting, or anybody talking about something they shouldn't, he'd call the Shore Patrol. He said that was not the only thing he did, but he refused to tell us or anybody else exactly what else; he said he had promised he wouldn't tell, and an Appalachian never goes back on his word.
I had lots of kin in the war. My dad's first cousin, Jack, was part of the German Occupation. He only ever told me one story. He said he had leave one weekend, and had two choices: he could go see his German girlfriend in Heidelberg, or he could take a train to Nuremberg and see a little bit of the trials. He went to Nuremberg and saw part of the sentencing phase of the trials.
My Uncle Arvel drove for the Redball Express. My Uncle George was a SeaBee. My Uncle Jim was part of the Japanese Occupation, which always cracked my sisters and me up. Uncle Jim was 6'7"; imagining him walking through Tokyo, towering over those tiny Japanese ladies, he would have been like Hillbilly Godzilla. One of my cousins was with the Manhattan Project, though I have no idea what he did there.