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What Did You Do In The War Dad/Mum/Grandad

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  • bazv
    olde rigger
    • Feb 2005
    • 5886

    Originally posted by bazv View Post
    My Mum was a Rigger (Airframe mechanic) in the WAAFS - She was mostly on Balloons and she was quite tickled when I started operating Winches for ATC gliding since she had 'driven' similar winches during Balloon ops.She was also very pleased that I too became a Rigger in the RAF.

    We dont talk about Dad much....he was a Pongo

    He was in Berlin just prior to WW2 doing a sugar technology course...I have his diploma at home and I think it is dated 31st August 1939 - he had always told us that he had escaped from germany just before war was declared...but I was not sure about that until I saw the diploma after he had died
    He became an Army Intelligence Officer during WW2 (fluent german )

    rgds baz
    Just been sorting through 30 years of files etc and came across this : ) - could not find the original but only rather faded copies !


    • John Green
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Mar 2011
      • 6643


      That's what I call a bit of rather romantic family history. Three days later and he'd be possibly interned. Fascinating.


      • waghorn41
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Mar 2011
        • 256

        Grandfather, Lt Harry Waghorn, on my father's side enlisted in WW1, was commissioned and ended up in Egypt in the RFC.
        His three sons:
        Sgt Peter Waghorn, Battle of Britain pilot with 111 and 249 squadrons, KIA Malta 11 April 1941
        Sgt Bryan Waghorn, 129 squadron, lost over the channel 28 October 1941
        Mne Gordon Pursey (my father), Royal Marine Commandos, served just after the war in Palestine.

        My mother was WRAF, three of her brothers were in The Royal Marines, think her father was Army.
        ex-RAF Hunter and Wessex mechanic


        • J Boyle
          With malice towards none
          • Oct 2004
          • 9811

          To update my earlier reply...where I mentioned my father was a B-17 co-pilot with the 15th AF, and my mother trained as a nurse...graduating just after the war...
          One uncle (by marriage) was a B-24/B-17 navigator with the 8th AF. He was shot down and became a POW.
          Another uncle (by marriage) flew gliders into Normany, the invasion of Southern France and Operation Market Garden. A Busy man.
          There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.


          • Firebird
            Avons with attitude
            • Mar 2003
            • 2164

            Originally posted by jack windsor View Post
            The wife,s uncle won the VC at Arnhem.
            I'm guessing he was Maj. Robert Cain of the South Staff's, given his was the only non-posthumously awarded VC out of the five awarded for action during Op.Market Garden....??
            I was with it all the way until letting the brakes off..........


            • Fouga23
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Jan 2006
              • 2258

              My grandfather was deported to Germany and forced to work in a factory. He sabotaged as much as he could
              Magister Aviation
              It's all in my book


              • victor tango
                Rank 4 Registered User
                • Jul 2014
                • 107

                Dad was an Army driver in London during the Blitz.
                His main job was Army back up for Churchills Ministry car.
                The only time he spoke to him was when he asked him for a light for his cigar.

                Mum was a young motorcycle dispatch rider.
                She got confused about the clutch and brake and fell off.
                she went on to be a telephonist for many years.


                • charliehunt
                  Nearly there!
                  • Oct 2012
                  • 11459

                  My grandfather joined late in 1916 aged 36 and was a Sergeant Fitter with an RAG Heavy Battery going through France and then on to the Italian Campaign where he died from his wounds in June 1918. My father worked for Phillips and Powis later Miles so was reserved but put a Captain's uniform on for "Dad's Army". After the war he was in the RoC for many years. My mother taught for the duration and until she retired.
                  Last edited by charliehunt; 7th May 2015, 15:11.

                  Keep smiling - it's never as bad as you think!!


                  • minimans
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Oct 2009
                    • 398

                    My dad was just a bit late for the war but joined the navy in 46 and spent his whole career in small ships mostly mine sweepers (There were a lot of mines still around then) they used to trawl with a cutting wire and the mines would bob up to the surface and would be blown up with small arms fire.


                    • me109g4
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • May 2009
                      • 558

                      My grandmother (Cooper) did war work at Rawlplug, I assume at the same location it was back in the 60's by the gate to RAF Hendon. She went home one morning to find the other side of the duplex she lived in on Sturgess Ave. was bombed overnight and was no longer there. Am still trying to find out the nature of the "war work" at Rawlplug, seems to be a well maintained secret.

                      I assume my grandfather was Home Guard, I remember a comment as a kid stating he had to stay up all night once guarding some shot down Jerry airplane.


                      • adrian_gray
                        Which idiot let HIM in?
                        • Jan 2000
                        • 3017

                        Well, I can tell you what Dad was doing seventy years ago today. He spent the evening stood on the steps of the village pub because, at 14, he was too young to go in!

                        "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.


                        • j_jza80
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Apr 2011
                          • 1546

                          My grandad joined the RAF in 1940, but failed his entry tests due to being colour blind. Trained at RAF Shawbury as a radio operator on Airspeed Oxfords, and did a couple of missions in Westland Lysanders. Due to a disagreement with his CO, we was sent to India in '42 where he spent the remainder of the war as a morse operator, finally making it back to the UK in 1946. He's 93 now and in top health, still drives and has many fascinating stories about his exploits.


                          • Dragondriver
                            Registered User
                            • Apr 2015
                            • 1

                            My father was drafted into the US Navy in late 1943 and after initial training was posted to PT boat training (MTBs in the RN). After training, and my mother's constant worry about his going to the Pacific for the duration, he was finally assigned to a PT squadron in New Orleans, assigned to protect the port of New Orleans from potential U-boat attack. Apparently his unit was very successful because New Orleans was never attacked by U-boats. My mother said living in New Orleans during the war was some of the best years of their life.

                            My Father-in-Law joined the US Army in 1939 and was sent to Hawaii in early 1940. He was stationed at Wheeler Field on Oahu and became an engine mechanic and P-40 Crew Chief. He was rudely awakened on Dec 7, 1941 as his airfield was attacked by Japanese airplanes. When you see all the old (or newer) movies about the attack there is usually the scene where a couple of P-40s land between waves, then take off to attack the Japanese second wave. He and about eight of his buddies were the ground crew that actually recovered, refueled, rearmed, and launched the two P-40s. He later returned to the US and helped set up a new P-47 squadron (402nd Ftr Sqdn), then deployed to the UK in late 1943 as the 402nd FS Line Chief (maintenance supervisor) with the notice that new aircraft would be waiting for them. When they arrived at RAF Andover in late February 1944, they discovered their new aircraft were present, but were P-38s, not P-47s. None of their pilots had ever flown a twin engine aircraft, and all their young maintenance people had trained only on the P-47's P&W radial. Only Paul and one other guy had ever even seen an in-line Allison engine, since they had come from Hawaii where they worked on the P-40. Needless to say, it was a busy few months for them to retrain all their air and ground crews in time for the invasion only fourteen weeks later! He stayed in the Air Force until retirement in 1969. My mother-in-law lived on Long Island (outside New York) and went to work in one of the Grumman Aircraft factory's building F4F Wildcats and later F6F Hellcats...a real "Rosie the Riveter"...fitting and assembling wings for the aircraft from 1942 to the end of the war. Later, their son served as a USAF Navigator/F-4 Weapons Systems Officer and their daughter (my wife) was an Air Force flight nurse.


                            • Oxcart
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Nov 2007
                              • 2100

                              My dad was a vehicle mechanic in the RAF And was based in Rekjavik where he went for his first ever flight in a Hudson-and it had to belly land after the 'gear failed!
                              And I know he was at Eindoven in Holland later on under an Me262 attack during which, his mate was decapitated. Unfortunately, that's all I know - he just wouldn't talk about it
                              Give a man a fish and eat for a day. Give a man a fishing rod and he'll eat for a lifetime. Give a man religion and he'll die praying for a fish!


                              • Stratosphere
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Feb 2014
                                • 86

                                My Late Father in Law (RIP Fred) was a chindit in Burma and took part in the operation were they were flown in via Waco Hadrian gliders to set up a forward operating post.
                                Heavy casualtys were sustained in the landing itself and the following battle with the Japanese. The Regiments War diary stated that the fighting was hand to hand at times.
                                Swords and Bayonets. This we only found out when researching his service records. He said that was the only time he had flown and did not wish to repeat the experience!


                                • Albanian Bob
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Jan 2015
                                  • 52

                                  My father was in the Army, posted to the Paras, but refused to jump through the hole in the floor of the Whitley, said it was too dangerous. So they transferred him to a nice safe job with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, where he ended up going through France & Germany in 44/45 as part of an Enemy Ordnance Disposal Unit. Much safer.

                                  My Grandfather was an airframe fitter (fabric) in WW1, based at No.1 AD, St Omer. He was called up again in 1939 (despite being over 40) and served as a Tailor (his civilian occupation) at an RAF base in the Orkneys, then later with Balloon units around London. Why they needed a tailor, I don't know.


                                  • GrahamF
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Oct 2007
                                    • 467

                                    My Grandfather on my mothers side [ born in 1900 ] was in both wars in the Artillery so caught the last couple of years of the first in Belgium and was in the BEF in the second attached to the Highland division his whole platoon were captured apart from him and two others they split up and spent about six weeks on the run trying to get back to England he made it back on a coal barge, his platoon were force marched to Poland and captivity.
                                    After all the sacrifices this country has made twice, we owe Europe absolutely nothing.
                                    "The 262's most dangerous opponent :- Hawker Tempest - extremely fast at low altitudes, highly-manoeuvrable and heavily-armed."
                                    (H. Lange, 262 pilot)


                                    • PeterVerney
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • May 2009
                                      • 1022

                                      My father served in both wars. Here he is behind his machine gun in WWI

                                      He was sent to India and from there to a place he called Messpot (Mesopotamia, nowadays Iraq). There he saw action against the Kurds and described taking his gun by night to face a Kurdish force the next morning, where they were gunned down as they advanced against our army.

                                      He was a tailor all his life and volunteered for the Balloon Barrage in WWII, aged 43. He reasoned that tailors would be needed to sew up the balloons, but ended up being part of a balloon crew. He was posted to Dover, and described having 3 balloons shot off his barge in one day. Where we live we could see these balloons if they were flown at a reasonable height and could see the Jerries shooting them down. We lived about 8 miles from Dover and he would cycle home to see us when he could, and bike back in the blackout through the back roads.

                                      His older brother Edgar served in the army in WWI in France and Messpot, where he swam across the Tigris at Baghdad and ended up in the same hospital as my father, who had malaria. Edgar joined the RAF before WWII having lost his job in the 30's depression. He went to France with the BEF in 1939 and told us how at one time he occupied a billet where he had also lived in WWI. He was a driver and in the shambles of May-June 1940 got his lorry onto a ship in western France and drove it home to us in East Kent. Here he spent about a week awaiting instructions with the lorry parked outside our bungalow. He was then sent to Malta and lost his life in an air raid there in early 1942.

                                      My little service, luckily for me, was after the war and I did 8 years in the RAF, serving as a night fighter navigator on 2 squadrons. One tour being in the Muddle East which I have boasted about in other threads.
                                      Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.


                                      • PeterVerney
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • May 2009
                                        • 1022

                                        I had turned off my computer and, going downstairs, then remembered two other family members.
                                        My mothers eldest brother joined the Royal Marines at the end of WWI and served on as a regular until he retired about 1947. He rose through the ranks, at one point being NCO in charge of catering in the officers mess at the RM depot at Deal in the early days of WWII. Later commissioned, he was in command of a field bakery which was landed in southern Italy during the invasion, and he operated it somewhere around Naples.
                                        My fathers youngest brother was a carpenter who was called up late in WWII and spent some time repairing Mosquitos. An aircraft in which about 8 years later I had the privilege to serve.
                                        Incidentally during my RAF service I spent a little while in Iraq and we did sector recces around the country. Recently I came across a book about WWI in Iraq and it described where the battle in which my father had taken part had been. Looking in my log book where I had recorded the routes we had flown, I realised that we had flown almost exactly over the spot.
                                        Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.


                                        • WV-903.
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • Oct 2007
                                          • 568

                                          Interesting thread guys, glad to see this stuff being recorded. My Dad was born in 1917 and died in 1981, a very posh speaking Brummie (if there is such a person ) He joined RAF in 1939 and trained up as an Engine Fitter and reached the dizzy height of LAC. Sent over to France on a Blenheim Sqdn. he was caught at Dunkirk and although he spoke very little about it, I found out from my mother many years later that he had got to the coast and got on a destroyer back to UK. Back in the 1950's we watched some of the :-" War in The Air "series on TV and during one programme about the Battle for France, there was a film shot of a Tiger Moth landing there and he jumped out of chair and said:- "That's the Tiger Moth that delivered our mail". I know also that he had some good Senior NCO Air Crew friends flying the Blenheims and they were all killed and I don't think he ever got over that. He contracted a bad stomach ulcer and was invalided out of RAF in 1943. But before that he spent time when in UK on Baders Sqdn. and I'm afraid to say his opinion of Bader is unprintable here.

                                          Seeing as how today is 70 years on from the VE day parties held around UK, I myself remember our street party in Birmingham very well. I was 4 years old at the time and we had the bunting strewn across between the houses and wooden tables and benches lined up in the street. People were so pleased the war was over, but of course austerity went on for another 9 years and bombed out houses littered the area for years after too. In Sandford Road near the Western end ran the relief railway line that got heavily bombed before we moved back to Birmingham and 2 houses (5 up from ours) got a direct hit. I used to play in the crater and got chased out by police a few times. It was a flipping big crater too, unless I was small and it only seemed that way, full of bricks and rubble, eventually it was filled in around 1948-9 and 2 new house built there. You can see where it was as these house are lower and different to the others on that side of road.
                                          Bill T.


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