Sunday, 8 November 2009


It shamed me today when I watched the proceedings at the Cenotaph that i couldn't remember what my family had done during the war. So I made some phone calls. Some things I had known but forgotten while other things I had never known. My family was lucky, it escaped the war relatively unscathed

My Dad's Dad was born in 1903 so he was not old enough to fight in the First World War. Although he was in his late thirties when the Second World War broke out, he didn't escape. He was too old for the frontline thankfully. He was a driver for the RAF based in London and he drove things everywhere and drove everything. Hampstead Heath was full of anti aircraft guns and a lorry compound. He escaped being posted abroad to North Africa due to a severely broken ankle.

His wife gave birth to my Father towards the end of the war and my Dad grew up with rationing and reminders everywhere. A family friend had an elbow that wouldn't bend because he had been shot at Dunkirk. They lived in London all through the war and survived the Blitz.

My Mum's Mum was one of those ladies who was suddenly allowed a much more independent life than otherwise she might have expected to have lived. She associated with officers and when she talks of the war, you can see it is bittersweet. Parties and fun times with friends who let go as if they might not come back and of course the memories of the ones that did not come back. My Nana was a very beautiful lady and she was based in London. The spirit of the Londoners at this time was a bright and shining thing in the face of adversity and she was one of them.

My Mum's Dad didn't like to talk about the war much at all. He was in the army posted in India. He at some point rode a horse and he also helped build a road. From this we suspect he was a Prisoner of War but we are not sure. As he and my Gran later divorced, finding out about him has always been tricky.

Family history is a valuable thing and I need to make a concerted effort to write more down... Least it be forgotten


  1. Yes, find out as much as you can. All my relatives were gone before I realized that I knew very little about any of my ancestors. I would so like to know where in Ireland my Great Grandparents came from. No on left to ask and records of births and deaths in Ireland are sketchy because they are held by the Catholic Church and the last I checked they weren't anxious to let them go. I have always felt an affinity to Ireland and didn't know until about eight or nine years ago that my maternal grandparents were Irish. It saddens me not to know, so keep digging.

  2. so interesting to hear about such different experiences.
    My grandpere was in the war- a foot soldier. Grandmere used to tell the stories he was too upset to tell... they were pretty darn traumatic- peeing and pooing in your helmet, thinking each night was your last... that kinda stuff. He would just sit and huge crocodile tears would run down his face.
    my favourite story though- was how he was stuck in hole of some kind and a German soldier, not that much older than him, found him. He thought he was done for- but the German soldier looked down and they both realized they were in the same position- forced to kill when they didn't want to. So the German walked away, and grandpere got out and survived.

    He passed two years ago.

    we do forget, so easily. I'm glad you are searching :)

  3. You were so lucky Ms Yogini to be able to really talk to your Grandparents like that. Both my Grandads died when my folks were still in their teens. I don't think they really ever got to have those adult chats about the past. I think they missed out too. It feels as if their early deaths left a missing link in the chain of my family.

    My one remaining Grandmother is not to be trusted in the stories she tells of my Grandad! Divorce does funny things!

    So sad the stories of war...

  4. oh I'm sorry to hear that your grandparents passed before you were able to talk about those things. but then, perhaps they wouldn't have wanted to talk about them... so difficult to tell.
    yes, i am not very good with war stories... i tear up so easily, so sensitive.

    don't worry- the more you dig the more you will discover :)