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raygunn

World War 2 Veterans

275 posts in this topic

This is not from my family but an interesting read because of the current airing about a TV miniseries in Germany named "our mothers, our fathers".

Its about a german WWII veteran, his life after the war and also about his discussions with his son:

A Son's Quest for truth: The last battle of a german WWII veteran in english

In general, its also about a war veteran trying to get on with his life and live with the memories of the past. (PTSD)

In my family:

Grandfather A was already in his 40s when WWII broke out and from some letters I found after the death of my grandmother he served as some kind of medical assistant in front-line lazaretts in Poland and Hungary. His ear was wounded when the train was shot he was riding in so he was nearly deaf on one ear for the rest of his life. He didn't seem to have talked much about the war, but I was too young to talk with him about it.

Grandfather B was a policeman and then a supply chain officer at the eastern front. He was a POW in Russia and was released late after the war in 1949. I also was too young to talk about the war with him. But him being member of a police unit and a resupply officer and working mostly behind the frontlines it is highly possible that he was involved in very bad actions. I don't know for sure, he never talked about something like that to my father either, but its possible.

Edited by kosty

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My grandfather of my father's side was stationed at an airfield in New Guinea where he was a Corporal for the Army and did aviation mechanics. I was real young when he was still alive and didn't get to ask him about his experiences. I've done a little research about the bomber squadrons and missions flown out of there attacking Japanese soil.. very interesting. I bet ol' Gramps would have had some amazing stories from that place. After the war, he was stationed out here in Stockton, CA at Rough and Ready Island Naval base for about 15-20 years and retired. I don't know what his retiring rank was unfortunately, I would like to find out and add it to my wall memorial with his medals and service photo.

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Well, my one grandfather worked on the B-29's and actually got to see the nukes up close. That was pretty cool to hear! My one great uncle Jack was at Pearl Harbor, and went on to fight on the islands in the Pacific, he saw a lot of stuff, was pretty hard to talk to him about it. He actually had a Japanese soldier's sword! My other Great Uncle John was in the airborne, but he died somewhere in Normandy after he hit the ground. That's about all the WW2 history in my family.

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The Fire Control Officer, Lt. Col. "Scottie" Scott on my AC-130 gunship crew flew on bombers in WWII and shot shot down late in the war and spent time in a Stalag. Flew again in Korea and was shot down and was hoping he could make it thru his tour on the Spectre without getting shot down. We did also, but came real close one night.

My father was a medic in Patton's division in the 3rd Army and all of my uncles also served. As a tribute to my father and uncles my son (Navy CPO) had this made: https://polymicro.clarify-it.com/d/vnz2l6

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The Fire Control Officer, Lt. Col. "Scottie" Scott on my AC-130 gunship crew flew on bombers in WWII and shot shot down late in the war and spent time in a Stalag. Flew again in Korea and was shot down and was hoping he could make it thru his tour on the Spectre without getting shot down. We did also, but came real close one night.

My father was a medic in Patton's division in the 3rd Army and all of my uncles also served. As a tribute to my father and uncles my son (Navy CPO) had this made: https://polymicro.clarify-it.com/d/vnz2l6

Cool Tat and quite an honor.

Guess I'll start gathering up all my families WWII history.

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My granddad was a wireless operator in the RAF flying in Halifax's, but died many years before I was born so I never got the chance to talk to him about any of this.

He survived a training crash in Wales where their plane flew into a mountain.

He was shot down on a raid to Duisburg on 26/27th of March 1943 near Doetinchem in Holland and taken POW.

He spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III.

We used to have his diary form the camp which was very interesting and filled with drawings done by him and other prisoners.

He was in the camp at the time of the "Great Escape", and here's the bit where I would like to have been able to talk to him about.

According to my dad he told him that he was in another part of the compound when the escape took place. However he had apparently told his other sons that he was actually in the hut where the tunnel was on the night of the escape waiting his turn and had escape number 200!

Then survived the "Long March" where the POW's from many camps where forced to march through the winter from these camps to the North German coast, where he was finally liberated at wars end.

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My granfather served in the 32nd ID from New Guinea to the Phillipines.

His brother 1st provisional army air corps infantry captured at Bataan in May'42 spent entire war as POW an forced labor.

His other brother served during the aleution campaign as AAgunner then to the ETO just in time for the Bulge and rhineland campaigns.

My grandfather was dischrged a month before the end of the war for shellshock and was not supposed to ever re-up but when the USAF was created in '47 he joined that, was in for a little more than 2yrs till they figured it out lol.

Also 2 great uncles in Germany 1 in the Luftwaffe as a mechanic other in supply in the heer.

Almost forgot another that served in the 41st served in New Guinea as well.

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My grandfather was a 19 yr old pilot in the first war. By the 2nd he was all done with planes, and ended up in the Azores helping setup the communications relays. He just missed making colonel at the end.

He was truly a member of the greatest generation....didn't talk a great deal...but he got the job done. And he understood what his responsibilities were. Never complained about getting a short stick. Just grabbed the world by the balls and did what he had to do.

Always been my favorite. Died in 1987 at the ripe old age of 89 and I still miss him :)

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My Grandfather past away last week sadly, aged 90. He always so fondly remembered his colleagues in the Royal Artillery and always lamented their passing as he counted them off. He was the last of his bunch of comrades to pass away.

He joined the Royal Artillery and was placed on Anti-Aircraft Artillery, using the 3.7 inch gun. Interestingly they did train to use it against tanks being told to "track them" and then "kill them".

His greatest memories where linked to the Normandy campaign as he was an AA component that landed on D+0 on Sword beach. Somewhere he has the crumpled, folded paper that Eisenhower issued to all the soldiers involved in the invasion.

His memories of the Normandy campaign were sparse and he only shared a few things.

The fact that when they where emplaced on the coast line of Normandy they found the body of a German Pilot that washed up. He told me how the Falaise gap stank of death and his demeanour and face when we very briefly talked about tank crews showed me felt a greater loss and sight of the reality than I could understand. How he remembers shelling Knokke, and that when a group of his comrades went to the cinema in Antwerp (sic?) they where killed when a V weapon hit the building. He also spoke excitedly about Operation Bodenplatte, seeing all the German aircraft flying over his position....

On VE Day he was in slit trench as he had been re-rolled as an assault troop, due to the manpower shortages affecting the British Army at that point in the campaign. He is predeceased by his wife, who was also on Anti-Aircraft guns in the war and he missed her bitterly when she passed away.

The light of a brave generation is flickering and dimming. Let us not forget there sacrifice, suffering, pain and endeavour to survive as a force for good.

I hope the following is read at his funeral.

The Royal Artillery Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ,

Who dost everywhere lead thy people in the way of righteousness,

Vouchsafe so as to lead the Royal Regiment of Artillery,

That wherever we serve, on land or sea or in the air,

We may win the glory of doing thy will

Amen

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On my paternal side, I had 4 uncles who saw active combat in WW2, 2 had ships sunk from under them at Iron Bottom Sound. My father's eldest brother, while involved in a firefight with parts of 17th SS Panzergrenadiers, was killed on July 28th, 1944, just north of Percy. The final of my father's brothers drove a Sherman in the 6th Armored Divison. He received 2 Purple Hearts. His first was awarded during the Battle for Avranches. During a lull in the bombardment of the old fortress, my uncle Lawson climbed out of his tank to releave himself. His "privacy" was not as private as he supposed, as a round from a sniper hit the large stone upon which he had perched himself, and fragments from it and the bullet lodged in his right buttock. His second was rather more impressive, earned during the Battle of Bastogne. His account of the action was that his Easy Eight had been tracked and set afire by a 75mm (he was very certain in his recounting of this story, that it was NOT an 88). As the crew was mostly bailed out, the after ammo stowage "cooked off" blowing the surviving members out of the vehicle and into a nearby snowbank, where they watched a pair of P47s avenged them upon a panzer company.

On my maternal side, my grandfather was a Lancaster pilot assigned to 35 Squadron, No. 8 Group "Pathfinders." He was shot down on a mission over Bonn in Feb. 1945, leaving an orphaned daughter in Cardigan, Wales, who would ultimately become my mother.

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I don't know to much about my great grandfather all I know is he was an Austrian sniper in the german army fighting on the Russian front

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Today we said goodbye to the last great grandparent of my family, he was born in 1922 in Cologne. Grandad had come to the UK via SA and Canada as a German POW. He served in North Africa with JG27 as a pilot shooting down a few other planes and also getting shot down himself 3 times, and told tales of his experiences, some times there where tears hiding in his eyes. Today I saw photo's at the wake before that I had not seen before, even one of them marked "Our lovely Johann in North Africa in war year 1941", as he posed tanned in the sun.

When he was in his nursing home, well before he passed away, he told me how he loved Cinema, and that as a youth in Cologne he always went to the cinema. One day he told me he saw a lad waiting outside and he asked him, what was he doing? The lad said he wanted to go to the cinema but didn't have any money. Grandad gave him his money and went home. Until that point I felt he was such a great man because he had learnt about life from the war, but no he had always been the decent sort with a heart of gold.

At the funeral today, the Reverand giving the service said at the end of the service he himself had looked after a ME 109 (cleaned it etc) at RAF Wattisham when he was in the RAF. He had found out that Grandad had, also, more recently, got to sit in the cockpit of the same "Black 6" in a visit to it. It is a small world.

Whilst we walked out to those Magnificent Men in there Flying Machines I will always think of the following lines from a song...when I remember my Grandad:

"Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne

"..Flieger, gruess mir die Sonne,

gruess mir die Sterne und gruess mir den Mond.

Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben

durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt!"

He is really missed.

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S! if all did no nows 9000 ww2 vets deed each yeer,we onlie gat a fue yeer laft 2 raspastim an gathrall all tha memarissiez tha had in tha day i had 3 unkals tat foths in tha normadys attik ,an 1 yongs pup STILL alivse he did okawayassna.ths stories i heed gronins up S! 2 tha laft S! all i can sa is S! 2 AL WW11 man an womans tat livad tat yeers S!

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Grandfather on my mother's side was in the Kriegsmarine. He was a "Funkmess-Offizier" (radar-operator/specialist) and never served on a ship. He already had his orders to serve on a DD, but a higher ranking officer (or one with better connections) with a thirst for adventure somehow managed to "steal" that commission from him. This was a big deal for him, since he grew up in northern Germany near the coast and always had a soft spot for the sea and ships (I think I've inherited that trait from him). Ironically, the ship he was supposed to serve on was sunk on its first trip out - with all hands lost. So while he was mad as hell initially for not getting out to sea, that guy who "stole" his post actually saved his life.

Funny thing is that I still remember that guy's name... my granddad did tell me quite a bit about the war when I asked him. Unfortunately, I was interested in all things WW2 even back then, but not as interested or knowledgeable as I am now.

He spent most of the war in occupied France, in a small village in Normandy. His CO took him out in a car shortly before/during the D-Day landings to take a look at the Allied armada off the coast. He said that when he saw the mass of ships, he knew that the war was lost.

Grandfather on my dad's side was a mechanic by trade (ran/owned a bicycle/motorcycle wholesale-operation after the war). He served with the Heer as a mechanic and repaired vehicles behind the front. He was with the 6th Army during the russian campaign. Got sick shortly before the Russians surrounded the 6th Army and got out of there on the last train taking wounded/sick soldiers back to Germany. That saved not only his, but my life as well, since my dad was born in early 1944. Thus if my granddad had perished at Stalingrad (or had been taken prisoner) my dad probably wouldn't have been conceived.

He never spoke much about the war (much less so than my other granddad). I suspect this was because he saw a lot worse stuff over in Russia than mom's father in (relatively) peaceful France. I do remember him telling a story of how ill-equipped the Germans felt vs the T-34 and how desperate things could get. He told me about infantry trying to shoot T-34s with 20mm flak-guns (cause that was all they had to shoot it at the time) and how the shells would bounce off the tank "like a 9mm shot at a slab of concrete".

During/after the BoF, this one was stationed in SW France for a while, near the border between occupied and free France. Decades later, his son (my dad) bought a house *very* close to where he was stationed and when granddad visited us down there one summer, it brought back a lot of memories for him.

S.

Edited by sascha

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I had a Great Uncle who died as a motorcycle messenger late in WW2

My Grandfather came west during the great depression with his best friend, Elwa. They came from New Brunswick, and ended up on Vancouver Island, working in the logging industry. Grandad always took care of Elwa, ever since they had been little boys, and all across the country.

When wartime came, they both went to sign up. Grandad had the reputation by then as one of the best bulldozer operators on the West Coast, and when the army found this out, they held him back, and set him to training bulldozer operators at a training camp on the Island. I gather he turned out lots, as there was huge demand, pre D-Day and the Italian campaign.

Elwa, his best friend, got the infantry, and died in Italy, in the mountains near Monte Casino.

To his dying day, Grandad always regretted not being there when his best friend needed him. He was convinced that had he been, Elwa would have been okay.

The guilt for not going overseas was with him the whole later half of his life.

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No relatives' war stories here. My dad was in WWI, not WWII.

I met a WWII vet in the store, today. I was shopping with my younger son and noticed a gentleman with a USAAF emblem on his cap. I struck up a conversation and it turns out he was a mechanic, working on medium bombers, in the Pacific Theater. He seemed pleased that someone was interested and still remembered what they were fighting for.

I hope I brightened his day. He certainly gave me a smile.

-Irish

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My Grandfather was a soldier in italian army, he fight against the russian army in eastern front with the german, fortunately he was injured and came back in italy, my family was pretty lucky because we still live in this city near milan, it's never been bombed because there was a high rank german officers.

One of my old uncle was an aviator in sicily during the usa invasion, when him and some other pilot saw the huge usa bombers they start to fly away.

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In the odd minute I have free, one of the locations on the 'net I favor is ww2aircraft.net, a site dedicated to all types of WWII aircraft-related hobbies, scale modeling, photography, historical research, flight simming, et cetera.  Until recently, one of the MAJOR contributors was a gentleman by the name of Bill Runnels.

 

per-runnels.jpg

 

Bill was a bombardier in the 360th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group, flying B-17s out of Molesworth, England.  He served at the end of the war, getting just over half his missions in by the time the war ended.  He was in on some of the BIG raids on Berlin and the heart of Germany.  Bill was originally a member of the "Lacker Crew" with 2nd Lt. Howard C. Lacker the pilot.  http://www.303rdbg.com/360lacker.html

 

360lacker.jpg

(Bill is second from right, first row.)

 

Bill always regretted not being with the rest of his crew on 6 April 45.  On that date, Bill was not flying with his crew.  They were lost in a mid-air collision with another B-17.  There were no survivors from either plane.  He felt survivors' guilt, to be sure.  But, as another forum member put it, he was spared "to keep their memory alive."  I believe he took comfort in that.

 

Bill was a regular in the ww2aircraft.net forums, posting about his experiences before, during, and after the war.  He was an encyclopedia of knowledge of that time period.  Bill was sharp as a tack.  He could remember dates and names from even his most obscure experiences.  The best thing was that he was more than willing to share his experiences with everyone on the forums.  He always had words of encouragement, compliments on folks' posts, and his own unique brand of insight into wartime subjects, from training to uniforms to the missions on which he flew.  More than that, he was a great guy.  He and I swapped quite a few PMs, back and forth.  I told him, years ago I had met a pilot from the 356th Fighter Group, and somewhat "adopted" that group.  Whenever I did research on the Eighth Air Force, I would make it a point to look for references to, and information about, the 356th FG.  I told Bill I was now going to adopt the 303rd Bomb Group in that same way, in his honor.  He seemed quite pleased.  But, as always, he made it about everyone but himself.  He said, "they're a great bunch of guys."
 

Bill's last post was on the sixth of this month.  A couple days prior, he posted that he had a kidney infection.  Then, on the 17th, one of the forum admins got the message from Bill's oldest son that Bill had passed away the previous afternoon, at age 93.  We were all pretty devastated at the news.

 

In memory of 2nd Lt. Billy L. Runnels, 360th BS, 303rd BG(H), 1st Bombardment Division, 8th Air Force, US Army Air Forces.

 

566085-11a8288360eed552b54eba120c728247.

 

 

 

-Irish

 

 

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On 19/10/2018 at 2:34 PM, odonovan1 said:

 

In the odd minute I have free, one of the locations on the 'net I favor is ww2aircraft.net, a site dedicated to all types of WWII aircraft-related hobbies, scale modeling, photography, historical research, flight simming, et cetera.  Until recently, one of the MAJOR contributors was a gentleman by the name of Bill Runnels.

 

per-runnels.jpg

 

Bill was a bombardier in the 360th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group, flying B-17s out of Molesworth, England.  He served at the end of the war, getting just over half his missions in by the time the war ended.  He was in on some of the BIG raids on Berlin and the heart of Germany.  Bill was originally a member of the "Lacker Crew" with 2nd Lt. Howard C. Lacker the pilot.  http://www.303rdbg.com/360lacker.html

 

360lacker.jpg

(Bill is second from right, first row.)

 

Bill always regretted not being with the rest of his crew on 6 April 45.  On that date, Bill was not flying with his crew.  They were lost in a mid-air collision with another B-17.  There were no survivors from either plane.  He felt survivors' guilt, to be sure.  But, as another forum member put it, he was spared "to keep their memory alive."  I believe he took comfort in that.

 

Bill was a regular in the ww2aircraft.net forums, posting about his experiences before, during, and after the war.  He was an encyclopedia of knowledge of that time period.  Bill was sharp as a tack.  He could remember dates and names from even his most obscure experiences.  The best thing was that he was more than willing to share his experiences with everyone on the forums.  He always had words of encouragement, compliments on folks' posts, and his own unique brand of insight into wartime subjects, from training to uniforms to the missions on which he flew.  More than that, he was a great guy.  He and I swapped quite a few PMs, back and forth.  I told him, years ago I had met a pilot from the 356th Fighter Group, and somewhat "adopted" that group.  Whenever I did research on the Eighth Air Force, I would make it a point to look for references to, and information about, the 356th FG.  I told Bill I was now going to adopt the 303rd Bomb Group in that same way, in his honor.  He seemed quite pleased.  But, as always, he made it about everyone but himself.  He said, "they're a great bunch of guys."
 

Bill's last post was on the sixth of this month.  A couple days prior, he posted that he had a kidney infection.  Then, on the 17th, one of the forum admins got the message from Bill's oldest son that Bill had passed away the previous afternoon, at age 93.  We were all pretty devastated at the news.

 

In memory of 2nd Lt. Billy L. Runnels, 360th BS, 303rd BG(H), 1st Bombardment Division, 8th Air Force, US Army Air Forces.

 

566085-11a8288360eed552b54eba120c728247.

 

 

 

-Irish

 

 

R.I.P. 

S!

 

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My dad was a sergeant in the army air corps.  As he was an apprentice at GM when he was drafted, he served in the motor pool and went to Okinawa.  Returned home, married, raised 7 kids (of which I am the youngest) and worked at GM for 30-plus years.  Quiet, steady, salt of the earth kind of guy.  He never talked about the war much, but that was ok.  He passed last year at the age of 96. Miss him.

Edited by GrAnit

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@GrAnit, condolences on your loss, but congratulations on having a man like that as your dad.

 

 

 

-Irish

 

 

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