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Your Grandparents War Stories  
User currently offlineAirworthy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1914 times:

Do you talk to your family about the history they were apart of?

I had a chance to talk to my grandparents about WWII and it was pretty interesting. One of my grandpas was under the command of General George S. Patton. And another grandpa was in the Army Air Corps.

Both of my grandmas told me about all of the sacrafices they had to make during the years from 1941-1945 and it was something to imagine the whole country gearing up for the war. They only could buy their set of rations and couldn't buy any new cars, etc.. It's hard to imagine all of that happening in the US, it must have been devastating in Germany at that time, I heard a lot of their soldiers died from hunger and not from enemy fire.

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 9428 posts, RR: 39
Reply 1, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1905 times:

My grandpa hardly ever talks about it, I guess it's because the memories hurt. The war was pretty much over for him when his kneecap was destroyed by shrapnel, all while he was closed in on by the Russians near Demyansk. The lucky part was that he was allowed to choose from being held captive by the Russians or Americans at some point.

[Edited 2003-07-05 18:51:31]

Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineAirworthy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1895 times:

Wow, your grandpa fought for Germany?

I heard about how bad the Russians were. I heard that Stalin said that if the Soviets take Berlin, they could have 3 days to do whatever they want to whoever they want. So after they liberated Aushwitz, the Red Army stormed into Berlin and caused an amazing amount of destruction.

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13605 posts, RR: 76
Reply 3, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1890 times:

I never really knew my grandparents, they died either when I was very young or before I arrived on the scene.
But a great uncle was one of the troops who liberated Belsen, he never really got over it.
My mum was only young at the time, but she still remembers the V-1 and V-2 attacks, (well the V-2 explosions, unlike the V-1 there was no warning of their approach).
Another relative was with the 14th Army in Burma.
My Grandmother on my dads side died in 1981, but she remembered the Battle of Britain, living right next to Northolt airfield, (where the Free Polish squadrons flew Hurricanes), one Hurricane, maybe damaged, only cleared her house by a matter of feet once!
My Dad's older Brother once had a propeller spinner from a crashed Hurricane, later he found a Colt .45 pistol, (lost by a US serviceman?), he handed it to a policeman.
Some relatives on my Mum's side were bombed out of the East End of London in 1940, they came to live with the rest of the family in Langley, Berkshire (right near a Hawker factory building Hurricanes!)
Mum remembers rationing, gas-masks, overcrowding, the blackout and people pulling together to help one another.
And of course the celebrations on VE day in May 1945!
Recently my Mum found some old photos, of family members, one was of an uncle out with his girlfriend in London in 1940, in the background was a barrage balloon, the uncle was a sailor and in uniform, as were virtually all the other men in this photo taken on a crowded street.

User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 9428 posts, RR: 39
Reply 4, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1889 times:

Ummmm... Airworthy, no offense meant, but care to look at where I'm from?

As for the invasion of Berlin, it's often told that the western allies could most likely have taken the city much earlier, but left it for the Red Army - I don't remember the reason, though. That way, there was enough time for a lot more children and old men to be drafted and man the "Volkssturm".

Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7907 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1885 times:

My grandfather was in the Navy in WWII, sailing on the small sub hunters as a radio operator. He was originally based out of Florida or some place in Louisiana. Either way they were plenty busy chasing German U-boats in the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Later on he was forward deployed. His first stop was Casablanca. He had saved quite a bit of memorabilia (he was quite the pack rat). There are some great pictures of him in his black uniform and trenchcoat, presumably taken in Morrocco. Plus I remember seeing the Christmas menu for 1943 for troops in Casablanca. As the war progressed he moved from Casablanca, to Sicily, and finally to Naples I believe. Before he died 12 years about he really wanted to make a trip back to Italy (he hadn't been there since the war), but the Gulf War was one and my paranoid grandmother was too afraid to go off on one of his adventures.

Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 9428 posts, RR: 39
Reply 6, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1880 times:

As for parents, my father (born 1936) lived in Hannover until his family was evacuated. When we go to the neighbouring town, he still knows the places he went to for water, or where that rough-and-ready bunker had been built and so on.

Another one? One of my elementary school teachers remembered that the fire that destroyed Hannover could be seen from my town - which is some 80 km away.

Another one? My town was saved from being damaged by artillery by one man: He cycled out of town with a white flag and assured the "enemy" troops there would be no resistance.

Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineMASB747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1884 times:

My grandpa (my mom's pa)took part on the Monte Cassino battle but I don't know which side he was on at that moment because it all started out with him being enroled by force by the Germans somewhere in 1941 like many young luxemburgish guys did.
Then he was taken prisoner by the Brits and almost immediately passed over to the british troops where he was in the demining service but he has also been requested to a load of different tasks mainly because of his language skills (my grandpa speaks german,french,english and italian fluently).He was also a driver of one of these troop assault boats (the ones with the big door on the bow that drops open on the beach allowing the troops to rush out and do their job.....).

User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7992 posts, RR: 11
Reply 8, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1873 times:

My grandpa was a bargee or bargeman and did not have to fight. He very rarely spoke about those times. Here are two stories, though:

One day he bicycled home on a dam along river Weser, when a Mustang attacked him. It's pretty hard to escape from a fighter attacking you when you're on a dam, but somehow he did.

On another day he witnessed a fight between two tanks, an American and a German (duh ... no surprise). They fired across river Weser but amazingly none of them hit the opponent. Eventually, they ran out of ammunition simultaneously, made a turn and drove back, leaving quite a mess behind.

My father's friend found a hand-grenade and had no better thing to do then to pick it up. The grenade exploded and cut the boy into pieces. My father remained more or less unharmed. But sometimes you can still see a blue stripe over his left eyebrow: A gunpowder-tattoo.

My friend's uncle (or grandfather) was a railwayman who drove one of those trains to Auschwitz. An officer urged him not to tell anybody what he had witnessed. In fact, he lost his voice completely for the next weeks to come.

I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineBen From Switzerland, joined Aug 1999, 1391 posts, RR: 47
Reply 9, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 1857 times:

My grandfather saw the ship that his 13 brothers and sisters were travelling on torpedoed (all dead) as they sailed out of a northern English port on their way to Canada to escape the war.

He decided to go to Australia instead!

User currently offlineCPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 6536 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1845 times:

If I'm not mistaken, the boat drivers were called coxwains (or something to that effect).
they could have taken Berlin, yes, but Eisenhower chose not to, as the strategic areas, in his opinion, had already been cleared (the Ruhr). Stalin wanted Berlin, and he had projected is as being the ultimate goal, especially for Tjuikov's 6th Army (I think), who had defended Stalingrad in '42-'43 and since then fought their way to Berlin.
The troops were not given permission to do what they wanted, in fact Stalin & the Stavka pressed the NKVD to inforce the rules that told the Soviet forces to treat the Germans nice in order to win their respect.

User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 1841 times:

My grandfather (mother's side) was a soldier on the Grebbeline in 1940 trying to stop German Panzers with his rifle.
Of all his company he was one of only 3 survivors, evading the Germans and in the end surviving the occupation.

I never knew him, he died when I was about 2 years old.
My grandmother (father's side) was a smuggler in WW1, smuggling luxury items into Germany (soap, chocolate, cigarettes).

My father left basic training a week after the last troopship sailed for Korea for the war there.

I wish I were flying
User currently offlineLPL From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 1055 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 1831 times:

My great uncle was in the Royal Navy in the pacific in WW2. He witnessed the Japanese surrendering to the Americans, and has photos (though poor quality) to prove it, even though it was illegal to take them. My family still have them now. I wonder how much they cost...

User currently offlineFLYING MACHINE From Spain, joined May 2002, 223 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 1833 times:

My grand father was a republican during the Spanish civil war so hi scaped to France when the Nationals entered on the little town.My grand mother went in to jail. Finally my grand father and grand mother met each other after nine years with my mother in Mexico. My grand father never came back to Spain because Francisco Franco was ruling that nation.

User currently offlineMasb747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 1822 times:

I didn´t know that Big grin but anyways he drove the boats during his time with the germans only ,they called them "Sturmboote" (the boats,not the drivers  Wink/being sarcastic ) and they weren´t that big either.
It wasn´t that easy a job since during every crossing my grandpa had to stay in upright position ( so he could see where he drives it´s quite evident ) despite the bullets hissing and zooming all over while the soldiers he carried in his boat snuggled up behind the sidewalls of the "Sturmboot".Talk about a dirty job !! But hey when you´re in war there´s no comfy job at all unless you´re working in office or HQ.

My other grandparents (my pop´s mom and dad )had a bakery and were evacuated during the german occupation while the allied bombers dropped their bombs on our hometown .They were aiming at the steel plants in the south part of the g.-d. of Luxembourg , one of which was just at about 500 meters from our house.....When the war was over and my grandparents went back home with their 3 little children some looters had moved almost everything out of our house and yet my grandparents were among the lucky ones ;many people had lost some of their family members AND their habitation.Devastation was all over .The streets were scattered with soldiers and destroyed military vehicles - and the steel plant was still standing !

User currently offlineLH526 From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 2439 posts, RR: 13
Reply 15, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 1825 times:

My Grandpa was a POW in a russian military prison, he was released one winer in the late 1940s and arrived home on christmas eve. What better present can you wish than the lost man? He suddenly stood there in the dark & cold surrounded by a heavy snowstorm.

This grandfatehr died som years before I was born, so I never had the chance to actually talk to him. I just know old stories my grandma used to tell and my mum tells me regularly  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


Trittst im Morgenrot daher, seh ich dich im Strahlenmeer ...
User currently offlineJessman From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1506 posts, RR: 7
Reply 16, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 1792 times:

My grandfather was in the US army in the battle of the bulge. On two separate occasions he was one of three people left from his platoon. During the winter his feet froze they told him they were going to have to amputate, but he somehow got out of that.
The most terrible story he told though was that he was in a fox-hole with his friend and just when it was time to move his friends head got blown clean off with a piece of shrapnel.

User currently offlineUs330 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4164 posts, RR: 13
Reply 17, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1785 times:

My paternal grandfather was a medical officer in the 45th infantry, which was under Patton's command. He witnessed Patton's lambasting of a shell-shocked soldier in a hospital.
He participated in the North Africa campaign, and in the liberation of Sicily as well where his red cross truck was hit by a German shell and flipped into a ravine. He was the only one out of four passengers to survive, but even then he lost consciousness for four days.

My maternal grandfather participated in the landings just after D-Day, and was one of the first Americans to enter Buchenwald concentration camp following its liberation. He did not participate in the actual liberation, but was close enough that he was called in to help translate (As an orthodox jew whose father had immigrated from Poland to the US, he was fluent in Yiddish). Needless to say, one doesn't forget something like that.

User currently offlineJcs17 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 8065 posts, RR: 36
Reply 18, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1782 times:

My paternal grandfather was a resident alien in the US during WWII, so he didnt have to join the army.

My maternal grandfather was a sharpshooter in the Marines in the Pacific Theater. He went to Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and a few other islands in the Pacific. He never really had to get involved in any close combat, but he was shot at from long distances. He went on to the islands after most combat was completed, and provided security for the troops on the ground. However, if it was not for the atomic bombs being dropped on Japan, he wouldve been scheduled to go in the first wave of troops on the island.

America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 1778 times:

My dad was a "8th Air Force" B-17E co-pilot, age 22, based in England during WWII - in JAN 1943, his aircraft was hit by flak over Germany (he was on his 3rd bombing mission)... parachuted near Brussels.
My mother was "sweet sixteen" then, a Belgian little girl with Russian parents who had escaped the 1917 Russian revolution. She spoke Russian and was in a unit of the "Communist Resistance" in Belgium, translating radio signals from Russian to French... or at night, passing messages hidden in her bicycle frame - after curfew - "flirting" with the Germans to let her go by, giving the soldiers a "date" for the next saturday...
She escorted many RAF and USAAF downed airmen back trough the country. When she met my dad - Cupido was on duty - she escorted him, both were riding with bicycles, all the way to Lisbon (a 3 month trip) - and... he returned to his unit in England, she ended up in California a few month later with his parents, the reason why "Skipper" was born in Santa Monica...
Little girls, watch out for these downed pilots... especially during these cold nights of January and February in Belgium...
(s) Skipper  Smile

User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (12 years 10 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 1772 times:

My Grandfather also fought for Germany in WW2. He was very lucky to have survived. He was actually shot 4 times. One of the bullets just nicked the top of his ear. 2 bullets went into his right leg, and the other into his hand. He tells me stories about American air raids and how he saw one of his friends next to him get shot in the head. The 2 bullets which were in his leg were assesed by the doctors at the time to be too risky to take out as they were too near the bone, and so they left them in there. He only recently had these bullets removed(in Feb 2000) and i actually saw them :-0

User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (12 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 1746 times:

My grandfather didn´t talk about this very often, but when he did the two main stories were:

- he shot down an American bomber with his flak. When the aircraft went down it hit another one and both crashed.

- he and his buddies staged an ambush for a group of Russian soldies on skis: they set up two machine gun nests and took the enemy troops into a crossfire. The slope was apparently so steep the Russians couldn´t stop before being gunned down.

His brother (i.e. my great uncle) used to tell the story of him being taken prisoner by the Americans in Italy: being the last survivor of his group, he was holding a position with a machine gun. The Americans came in masses but he managed to kill like 10 or 15 of them as they stormed his position before they overpowered him.

Oh well...

Through stories like these, even people born 30+ years after the war´s end have formed very clear opinions about war in general.


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4706 posts, RR: 39
Reply 22, posted (12 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 1732 times:

My one garndfather (father's father) was a professional (i.e. he was not drafted, but chose this career in 1938 or so) Wehrmacht officer.

During September 1939, while stil being in military school (Unteroffiziersschule), his unit took part in the invasion of Poland. In 1940, he was assigned to an infantry division and took part in the invasion of France. I have inherited his very impressive photo albums showing destroyed French and British tanks, artillery positions and French civilian refugees when he died a few years ago (along with his war decorations).

After finishing militar yschool, he became comander of a tank company of the (as far as I can remember) 23rd Panzerdivision (or was ith the 26th?). Anyway, it was part of the 6th Army. His unit fought all the way to the Caucasus in late 1942 and was reassigned to Stalingrad a few weeks before the city got under siege.
Luckily for him and his family, he was later flown out because he became ill with yellow fever.
In 1943, he was again assigned to a Panzerdivision at the Russian southern front, fighting in the battle of Charkov, where his tank was hit by a Russian T-34 and my grandfather severely wounded. I will never forget the pictures showing him before and after these horrific events - while he was a happy, smiling young man before the war, he looked ten years older than his actual age, was extremely thin and had lost all his hair by 1945. Furthermore, his jaw being severely hit in said tank attack, the scars were evident for the rest of his life.
After he had recovered from his wounds in early 1944, he was assigned to a military school as some sort of liaision officer and spend most of the time in Denmark and the Reich until early 1945, when he was again assigned to a Panzerdivision fighting against the Russians in Hungary.

During the last days of the war, while being in southern Austria, his unit withdrew from the Russians in order to get into British captivity. Interestingly, the British officers urged his unit to fight a little longer against the Russians, so the English could occupy the rest of Northern Italy and southern Austria before the "Ivan" would arrive.
As some sort of compensation for this deal, my grandfather and his comrades did not become POWs, but were designated detainees and were released from British custody by June of 1945, so he could return to my grandmother.

This is the short version of his military career. As I am very interested in history, I have talked with him and my other grandparents for long hours.

My other grandfather (mother's father), who is luckily still alive, doesn't tell as many stories, becuase war must have been very traumatic for him. As a young 17-year old, he was drafted close to the end of the war and threwn into battle near the Oder river in Silesia, where most of his comrades fell. He ended his war with his unit close to Hammelburg in Bavaria, where after several days of intense bombardment, the officers of his unit finally surrendered to the advancing American troups. That was in April 1945.

Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 17593 posts, RR: 50
Reply 23, posted (12 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 1723 times:

My Grandpa (Dad's Dad) was an Italian American immigrant, he was also the father of two infant children at the time WWII broke out. He had alot of skills as a carpenter and electrician so he went to work in the famous Brooklyn Navy Yard, he worked on many ships but he is proudest of his work on the Battleship USS Missouri.

The USS Missouri (Iowa class battleship) entered the war late in 1944 , but saw some ferocious fights in the South Pacific campaign. The USS Missouri is the ship the Japanese surrendered to the Allies led by General Douglas Macarthur in Tokyo bay late in 1945.

The ship went on to many more years of service for the US Navy and was decommission after the First Gulf War in 1991, it's now a museum moored right next to the Battleship USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona marks the beginning of WWII, the USS Missouri marks the end of WWII.

My Grandad (Mom's Dad) worked in the Bethlehem steel ship yard on Staten Island, he too was a father of two young daughters and thus was exempt from Military service. However he was a skilled carpenter (taught carpentry at Tottenville High school on Staten Island for decades after) , he went to work in the Staten Island ship yards (across the bay from my Grandpa at the Brooklyn Navy yard).

He built what were know as "Liberty Ships", they were transport ships produced at record rates and in record numbers to supply the Allies in Europe. At the beginning of the war the German U Boats were sinking the "Liberty Ships" almost as fast as they could make them, however eventually through better "convoy" tactics and incredibly fast production rates of "Liberty Ships" the tide on the North Atlantic turned.

The Liberty Ship was one of the heroes of the War in Europe, the mass production of these ships kept the UK supplied during the early days. And later helped create the massive build up of US Forces in England, which overwhelmed the Nazi's through sheer volume of tanks and equipment.

Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
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