raygunn

World War 2 Veterans

275 posts in this topic

I have veterans on both sides of the family. Two of my great uncles served in the AIF in North Africa, Greece, Crete and the Pacific.

About a week ago I was given the only copy of my great uncle's (Lance Corporal Clive Cunningham) war diary covering the start of the war in North Africa, the advance to Tobruk and beyond, the retreat back to Alexandria, their deployment to Greece and the retreat in the face of the German attacks from Greece and Crete back to Egypt.

I've done a bit of research on the Australian War Memorial's site and found some great pictorial accompaniment that shows where he went, what was happening and adds some impact to the diary.

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I use to work with a gent called Bill Grey or as he was known in 1944 Private Billy Grey worked at our place for years as a Handyman , Caretaker and Chauffer. No one knew he had been in the war (to be honest he didn’t look old enough). One day my boss had just got back from holiday to Normandy , he was showing us some photo’s and Bill came in, my boss asked if Bill had ever been to Normandy as he knew he went on holiday to France most years.

Bill – “Yes”

My Boss – “Many times Bill ?”

Bill – “Oh quite a few”

My Boss – “Bet it has changed a lot over the years then ?”

Bill – “Yep , you could say that”

My Boss – “So when was the first time you went then Bill ?”

Bill – “That would be about 20 past midnight on June the sixth 1944”

Great story Mcotton! Weird co-incidence, I literally only just finished reading "Pegasus Bridge" by Stephen E. Ambrose. Ambrose even mentions Billy Gray and the German para (Sergeant Heinz Hickman) firing a whole clip at each other but aiming high and missing, then decades later becoming great mates. He also mentions Cpl. Grey holding his bladder until pretty much the first moment he had a chance to let go (while the firefight was still under way).

The book is an excellent read, and Billy Gray features prominently.

It's great to hear he is still going, say "Ham and Jam" to him for me, a great admirer of his work!

I'll write about my parents involvement during the war probably tomorrow, it's late and I have to work, but my family have a stack of stories (I've posted bits of them in other forums, only just noticed this one after 2 years playing the game...:rolleyes: ).

It's great to read these stories, keep them coming.

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My paternal Grandfather was in WW1 from shortly after the first shots were fired in 1914. He was in the Hungarian army, one of the first armies to be mobilized, serving mainly through the vicious fighting on the Russian front. Incredibly, he survived the entire war, and reached the rank of Warrant Officer. He never spoke about it, although he did bring back a few photos, I think my Dad has them somewhere, and a rack of medals, including the 2nd or 3rd highest medal in the Austro-Hungarian empire, awarded to him by the Emperor Franz Joseph (I think that was his name, I'd better check... ). He stayed in the army for a total of 20 years, although after the Treaty of Versailles Hungary was banned from having an army, so he had to work in civillian clothes.

My maternal Grandfather left home when he was 14 to serve in the British merchant navy during the 1920's, he had some amazing stories and photos. Then he joined the RAF as a ground crew engineer. He was in France, and at Dunkirk, and later served in Douglas Bader's squadron, then on Lancasters, and also had something to do with radar (not sure what though). He finished as a Sergeant. My Grandmother was Australian. They married (before the war I think) and eventually came out to Australia as a family.

My Dad undertook flying training in Hungary when he was in school, during the summer, with a view to joining the Hungarian Airforce. When the Germans came through Hungary, he decided against that (the Hungarian airforce joined the Luftwaffe). They dragged his schoolteacher out of class for teaching politically "incorrect" ideas, and hung a Nasty (can't write the word here...) flag out of the window. He ended up joining the resistance. One day the Gestapo caught my Dad and 12 of his mates. They beat him brutally, breaking 3 of his vertabrae while "interrogating" him. The Gestapo signed and stamped his death warrant. It was only a matter of time before he copped a bullet in the back of his head (if he was lucky). But an allied bombing raid dropped inaccurately, and blew out the back wall of Gestapo HQ. Dad and his mates escaped. They lived in a cave till the end of the war, fighting the Germans using begged, borrowed or stolen German and Russian weapons. He preferred the Russian stuff, as it was not as accurate, but it would run beautifully under the worst conditions, whereas the German weapons tended to use fine grade machine oil which would freeze, or jam once a bit of dirt got in the mechanism. Dad's parents thought he was dead for a year or two. He survived the war and emigrated to Australia in 1949. He only just retired last year aged 80. He's got Parkinson's disease now, but otherwise he's holding up well considering. His back has been giving him pain since the Gestapo broke it.

My Mum was a nurse after the war. She treated many of the RAF pilots who received treatment for many years for the severe burns they got during the war. She never wanted me to be a pilot because of the inuries she saw, so partly with her wishes in mind, I changed my mind about joining the RAAF (also I had a very slightly lazy eye which would possibly have precluded me from joining). Many years later, I've seen the error of my ways, I'm chipping away at my commercial pilot's license. Mum moved to Australia, where she met my Dad.

My Mum's brother was drafted for National Service in the Australian army to Vietnam. I guess the war finished before he went, so he did his national service in Australia.

I'm very proud of my family's achievements.

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My dad's father trained crews (don't rember what specifically) for B-24s, B-17s, and later B-29s. 1 month before Pearl Harbo he was supposed to have been shipped to Hickum Field but a mistake in paperwork left him on the mainland.

My mom's father was a chemical weapons engineer in the Pacific. I've got a few photos of after effects...

My mom's stepfather was in the Polish cavalry but escaped to Britain and then the US.

My dad's mother's father fought for the Hapsburg Empire (Austria-Hungry) as an infantryman in WWI.

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My grandfather fought IN BOTH World Wars with the german army.

He survived both and went on to live past 90, he past away some 10 years ago.

He was very disciplined but had a huge heart (Maybe fighting the soviets made him feel srry for them more than Hitler)

He showed me a bunch of medals he had which i dont remember at this time but i will look for them again when i have the time.

He never talked about those times btw, not even briefly, at least not with hes grandchildren.

He was my first hero and i loved him very much.

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My great-grandfather was been Major of Wehrmacht in Polland campaning, after victory he has got rank Oberstleutnant and War Merit Cross 1st class.

After it he was been in Belgium like infatry. He hate SS, but he must go for them. On russian front been as SS obersturmbannführer and was been kiled.

His brother fighting in Africa, he was been evacuated. In D-Day he was been captive. And after second war fighting on Vietnam as foreign legion.

He live in France.

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My grandfather served as an infantry man in the german army. He was taking part in the battles around the Krim peninsula and other locations in Russia. There he was wounded (received a bullet going through his cheek) and was moved to Berlin where he was in a brigade which defended some part of the Fuehrer-Hauptquartier (he wasn't witht the SS, so I don't know which or where that could have been). Later he was sent to fight at the west front and took part in the battle of the bulge. There he was captured by american forces (he was nearly shot in that event because the americans mistrusted the two pots of hot soup he happened to hold in his hands the very moment they captured him). He survived the end of the war as a POW.

My granduncle was flight instructor until 1942, when the Reich was in dire need of fighters at the west front. He was assigned to JG1 "Oesau" where he flew 190's against the 4-engined bombers (and their escorts). For more details look at http://www.luftwaffe.cz/piffer.html. He was killed in aerial combat in France a few days after invasion. At that time he had 35 kills, among them 26 "viermots" which makes him 6th or 7th highest ranking bomber-killer in the Luftwaffe. He was awarded with the Ritterkreuz posthumously. From my grandfather I know that he (as a simple craftsmen-son from the Tirol, Austria) never liked the typical prussian type officers (only a month before his death he himself was awarded the Leutnant rank (lowest german officer grade)) and that on more than one occasion he had to hold fire and chase the bogey around a bit so that his flight leader could make a cheap kill. The way my grandfather told this, I don't think it to be an anecdotal sidenote but a practice until far into the war. (It seems that facing the Viermots, those officers generously deferred the firing to the lower ranks)

slarti

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Mothers Grandpa: Served in WWI in German Army at the Westfront, 1914 -1917, lost an ankle.

Mothers Uncles:

1. Uncle: Served in the Kriegsmarine on a minesweeper in the Eastern sea, POW in England after the surrender 1945

2. Uncle: Served by the Gebirgsjäger/Mountaintroop at MoscowArea 1941, got heavy wounded by mortarfire, was invalid rest of his life

3. Uncle: Served in a Panzerdivision (an early one, because he was on a Panzer I first), his unit was S or SWFrance 1944 (Biaritz I think) and had horrible losses, when they went back to Germany, by Airattacks. POW in England

4. Uncle: Infantry in Russia...fallen

5. Uncle: Infantry in Africa...fallen

6. Uncle (the youngest) Came end of 1943 (on his 17. Birthday) to Waffen SS and served in Yugoslavia, got bullets in the chest, than POW in England

Father of my father: Served in WWI in German Army in the "Levantenkorp" at Jerusalem, in WWII at Volkssturm in EastPrussia, throw his rifle away, when russians came close and tried to refuge with his family to the west.

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Great Grandfather - Boer War 1st Durham Light Infantry

Grandfather - WW1 - Canadian Expeditionary Force - Royal Canadian Regiment

Passchendale and Vimy

Father - RCAF - Bombers and Transport (35 Bombing missions)

Mother - WRAF - Kinloss

Uncle - Royal Signal Corps - Dunkirk (Wounded and evacuated)

Aunt - Wren - Liverpool

Uncle - RAF - Hurricanes - BoB (lost both legs)

Uncle - RCN - Corvettes (convoy duty out of Halifax)

Uncle - RCAC - (Regiment??) - Italy - Ortona and the Moro river (wounded twice)

Uncle - Merchant Marine - Atlantic (torpedoed twice and bombed once)

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I have the paybook, folding kife, and assorted other gear from a DLI soldier form WWI. Bought at auction.

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My papa, grandad whatever, my mums dad basically was in the royal artilley and got alot of medals, he was part of an anti aircraft gun crew and got a medal for shooting down several planes i think.

he recieved a medal for being wounded when acting as a dispatch rider with his officer in which his officer was killed by a sniper and he took a bullet in the leg himself.

My other grandfather was a paratrooper and broke his back when parachuting into italy in 1943 i think im not sure about the details, but he and his unit were captured. he went on to fight in korea before his back injury stopped him from fighting anymore.

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Mom's Father - Pearl Harbor USS Oklahoma - Blown from his ship by torpedo blast while manning AAA gun. Permanently disabled as a result of his injuries.

Dad's Father - Opened Camp Gordon for training as well as organized Camp Benning. To my knowledge, due to health reasons, he was never deployed but often stated he went with every young man he trained and stayed there with every one that did not come home.

Wife's Grandfather - 506th PIR - D-Day - wounded, but remained in action. Operation Market Garden, wounded again, remained on the line. Near fatal chest wound cost him a lung and partial use of his left arm in the Ardennes (Bastogne), removed from line when the ring was broken.

Ex-Wife's Grandfather - Gunner on the Enola Gay

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One of my Granfathers worked for Westinghouse & the other worked for Ford. One spent the war fixing the plumbing in an airplane engine factory and the other built trucks.

I don't think either one got any medals for gratuitous draft dodging.

My Dad won a bunch of medals in Vietnam and my wifes Dad won a silver star with the 82nd Airborne in Korea. My Dad refuses to talk about the experince and My wife's Father also refused to say a word about his experiences till the day he died. His family never knew he had won a silver star until his funeral when he received special honors during the buriel ceremony.

I can understand their feelings about not talking about it a lot better after some of my own experiences during the 1st Gulf War and having a baby boy myself.

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Oidin,

I thought your post was fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Did your Father's Father (Grandfather) make it with his family to the western zone?

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my grandpa was in ww2 (thats what led me here) he was a oberluitenent or something like that he fought in poland,france,russia,africa,germany,

he was captured in berlin about a weak after hitlers death he migrated to america where he died in 1981 he was 90 he was born in 1911 he joined the german army in 1939 when germany declared war on poland he was 18

my great grandpa died in ww1 no much is known about my family

before him or barley knew anything about grandpa

and unfortunatley after moveing to america at a young age i eventouly forgot my main language of german dint take long before it was replaced by english so unfortunatley my german is a bit old and partialy forgoten

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i know no one cares about me or my heritage, just doing it in honor of a dead soldaten of the german army, so dont get on me.

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This thread reminded me that I really need to research the details of my family's service. I only know general details:

-Relative on my mother's side served as a general during the American civil war on the Union side.

-Relative on my father's side served on CSS Virginia (Confederate side), the first ironclad warship in history.

-Great great grandfather on mothers side served in the US Army during WW1.

-Great Grandfather on mother's side served as a pilot instructor during WW2, going on to do the same in Korea. He flew a variety of planes in this position. Said he hated the B29, and that the gunner bubbles would pop out at high altitude, sucking the gunners out.

-Grandfather on father's side served in the US Navy during WW2. Participated in many campaigns.

-Grandfather on mother's side served in Vietnam as a mechanic.

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@bobio

Yes, but later...

It was to late for escape, the russians captured all refugees of the treck and they had to go home.

Two aunts were carried off and were arrested in a gulag for some years in siberia, one of them died there.

The rest of the family left their home short after the war and went west.

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My fathers Dad, was a fisherman with his own fishingboat.

Boat, minus crew but plus skipper, was seized by the germans shortly after the occupation. The germans supplied the boat, with maps of the location of the minefields they had layed, in the area of where he and his boat was put to work in, throughout the whole war.

Many of said maps was copied and in the hands of the resistance on the same day, they had been delivered.

Later some of those made it all the way to the British.

My mothers dad, he will most likely take many of the secrets with him into the grave.

A few of the things I do know is, that...

He was captured by the germans along with at least 2 others, some time after the 20/21 April 1943 bombing raid on Stettin.

As they was in that town, doing the "he who can not be named"s birthday bombing raid and that he saw things in that raid there can make him cry even today, this is one of the very few things he has talked about.

One of the things I have found out on my own, by tracking down the tattoo on his arm, is he got moved from (gestapo?) prison to Auschwitz concentration camp in '43 and then again moved in '44 to another concentration camp (currently unknown) and liberated by the Americans in april '45.

When I talked to him about it. He said than only 3 of them, survived the camps, but have not told about how many of them there was to begin with, nor which camp they had been moved to after Auschwitz, only that they got liberated by the Americans.

And he asked me, if I would please try and track down the other 2 who survived.

Which I sort of did, one died years ago, the other one doesn't have any official record, starting shortly after the war and he was declared dead by the courts in '46.

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two of my Aitachis(grandpa in basque) brothers were fighting in the french army during WW2 and were caught and became POWS,they each tried to escape and only one made it because the POW camp he was at was close to the border and the other was shot when he was escaping.my Atachi wanted to figt too but he was 16 os e couldnt,but during the war the germans took over his town :P

then on my dads side my grandmas brother was in the war in the USA army and died in france,dont know which battle or anything it was but i know it was around the beginning of when we came.

hey if anyones knows of a website you cann find out where soldiers were buried in WW2 please post it cuz my dad and me wanna go see his grave

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Thx for the reply oidin. There are some really fascinating stories in here.

Should make most of us happy for what we have.

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My mothers uncle Australian inf was at Singapore/Malaysia then a POW of the japanese at the fall of Singapore Feb 1942, and was sent on a cargo ship for Japan but was sunk by US submarine he and lots of allied POWs drowned, few were rescued by another US submarine 3 days later. (US submarine who sunk that Japanese cargo ship didnt know it was full of allied POWs in that ship)

My Grandparents were farmers and had 3 Italians POWs working on a farm without a guard! as its 99% impossible to escape from Australia/NZ.

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My grampa was 17 when he enlisted to Finnish army in late 1942. He was assigned to infantry regiment 53. He served in Rukajärvi (lake Ruka) front from early 1943 till spring 1944. He was trained to antitank gunner for 37mm and 45mm antitank gun. Later he was trained to be gunner for 75mm pak40 at-gun. He also served short period as a messenger because he had good memory and he was talented in athletics and running at amateur level in Helsinki.

Granpa's regiment was transferred to Karelian isthmus in early spring 1944. At 16 days they were skiing almost 40km per day. In the heavy fighting of summer 1944 my granpas 75mm pak40 was destroyed. His regiment fought at the Tali-Ihantala, Kuuterselkä, Kuparsaari. For a while he served as a SMG trooper and later he was assigned to Panzerschreck crew as a shooter.

He has told that he had destroyed few russian tanks whit AT-guns and panzerschreck. Grampa says that he will never forget how creepy it sounds when the crew burns to death and they scream in pain. Grampa told that some of the russian crews were no older than 17 or 18 years old. Most them screamed for their mothers in pain, some fanatics screamed for Stalin.

In the kaerlian isthmus defensive struggles in 1944 he destroyed alone two soviet 76mm antitank guns with suomi-smg and hand grenades before the finnish counter attack started. He was familiar with anti-tank guns so he removed the locks from the russian guns and threw those into a swamp so the russian at-guns were out of order when the russians took them back later. In the counter attack the finnish infantry was reinforced with stug-IIIg's so grampa was awarded with short vacation and a promotion to lance-corporal later for his merits in action.

After the Continuation war he was sent to Lapland's war to kick the Germans out of the country. He took part into a Invasion of Tornio (which was almost as big as invasion to Normandy, but not so well known :) He was dismissed from service in late 1944. Then he was 20 years old and a veteran with three years of combat experience. Nowdays he is 82 years old. Still in good shape and likes to tell from his experiencies and life.

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My grampa was 17 when he enlisted to Finnish army in late 1942. He was assigned to infantry regiment 53. He served in Rukajärvi (lake Ruka) front from early 1943 till spring 1944. He was trained to antitank gunner for 37mm and 45mm antitank gun. Later he was trained to be gunner for 75mm pak40 at-gun. He also served short period as a messenger because he had good memory and he was talented in athletics and running at amateur level in Helsinki.

Granpa's regiment was transferred to Karelian isthmus in early spring 1944. At 16 days they were skiing almost 40km per day. In the heavy fighting of summer 1944 my granpas 75mm pak40 was destroyed. His regiment fought at the Tali-Ihantala, Kuuterselkä, Kuparsaari. For a while he served as a SMG trooper and later he was assigned to Panzerschreck crew as a shooter.

He has told that he had destroyed few russian tanks whit AT-guns and panzerschreck. Grampa says that he will never forget how creepy it sounds when the crew burns to death and they scream in pain. Grampa told that some of the russian crews were no older than 17 or 18 years old. Most them screamed for their mothers in pain, some fanatics screamed for Stalin.

In the kaerlian isthmus defensive struggles in 1944 he destroyed alone two soviet 76mm antitank guns with suomi-smg and hand grenades before the finnish counter attack started. He was familiar with anti-tank guns so he removed the locks from the russian guns and threw those into a swamp so the russian at-guns were out of order when the russians took them back later. In the counter attack the finnish infantry was reinforced with stug-IIIg's so grampa was awarded with short vacation and a promotion to lance-corporal later for his merits in action.

After the Continuation war he was sent to Lapland's war to kick the Germans out of the country. He took part into a Invasion of Tornio (which was almost as big as invasion to Normandy, but not so well known :) He was dismissed from service in late 1944. Then he was 20 years old and a veteran with three years of combat experience. Nowdays he is 82 years old. Still in good shape and likes to tell from his experiencies and life.

Thats a great story, wing.

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My Father was a Tank Driver of a Sherman with Montgomery's XXX Corp.Landed Normandy on D-Day+3. fought in and around Caen and through Northern France to Belgium.

Involved with the Arnhem fiasco (Market Garden) when XXX Corp pushed up the road to Arnhem from Nijmegen. Tank hit by AT gun that killed all the crew except Dad, sent back down the line where a scratch crew were formed with a spare Sherman.

Moved back up the line and was hit for a second time nearer Arnhem, again Dad was the only one to survive. although the tank's gunner lived for a short time, he succumbed to his injuries and died 2 days later.

Dad went on to be part of the occupying forces in Germany until 1946. He had previously been in France with the BEF in 1940, rescued at Dunkirk, so all in all Dads war lasted for six years.

Never claimed his medals although I can claim them on his behalf, he died in 1978 aged 63.

If you are wondering about my age, I am 52 !.

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