Military

This entry is prompt #11 of The Book of Me, Written by You project.

This week’s prompt is Military (timed to coincide with Remembrance Day)

Did you join the military? Were you encouraged or discouraged?

Did a family member? Regular or for a particular incident?

Did you or your family serve overseas in the line of Service either during a war or a posting

Any thoughts, photographs, memories relevant

This will be a very short entry as I have never served in the military, nor have any of my immediate family – in fact we’re a family of pacifists and if my brother or I had ever been called up we would have been conscientious objectors. And my son has flat feet and a disability so he’s safe too!

There have been a few family members who have served, though I’m pretty patchy on the details. My maternal grandfather Frank Herron was called up for WWII and in fact met my grandmother while he was stationed at barracks in Halifax. He was then in action in North Africa and, towards the end of the war, in Italy.

Both my grandmother’s brothers – Harry and Walter Stansfield – were military men during and (definitely in Harry’s case) after WWII. Walter was part of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and worked undercover with the French Resistance for quite some time, during which time he was incommunicado. I did hear of how that he was parachuted into France on a secret mission and he damaged his leg during the operation but I don’t know more than that. He rose to the rank of Major. Harry had a successful career in the RAF, travelling all over the place and reaching the rank of Group Captain before he died far too early at 42.

My step grandad – my grandma’s second husband (and cousin) was a wire drawer so was not called up as it was a reserved occupation. He was also a part time professional footballer, playing for Cardiff City, and he spent the war years playing regional football as league football was all stopped. I don’t know about my paternal grandfather – I’ve never heard anything about him being in the military.

Perhaps the most interesting military (ish) connection in my family is with my great uncle, Albert Mervyn Thompson. He was stationed at Bletchley Park during the war, working on the Enigma project. When he was a child we wrote to each other occasionally and in one letter he told me a little about his time there, how they thought they were wasting their time trying to decode these things but in fact their work was quite probably what won the war. After the war he was in Germany, though I’m not sure in what capacity, and he told me about seeing Himmler’s right arm through a window in the men’s toilet! Apparently journalists were queuing up to get a look.

(I have the letters from him somewhere in the garage and one day I’ll dig them out and add his exact words here.)

So that’s all I have to say on this subject … (And thanks to my mum for giving me some additional information!)

 

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