Saturday, 10 November 2007

Family war stories

Like most families we have stories about the wars handed down to us. My grandfather lost his arm in WW1 thanks to a canon wheel. He learned to swim, play snooker and do all sorts of things with only one arm. He died before I was born. My gran and her sister my great aunt lived together in a little bungalow and we would take my aunt to Mass each week-but gran would never come.
She had stopped going after the war. I am not sure whether it was after the first or second world war, but she despised war and blamed the Church for supporting it. Her only brother died on the last day of the WW 1 -shot somewhere in the trenches in France only a few days after his 16th birthday.

It was not legal for a 15 yr old boy to be out at the front of course-but by the end of the war there were few men left and lads were allowed to sign on without much in the way of background checks being done. Jack's death stayed with my aunts and gran for the rest of their lives.

My aunt Eileen had been a priest's housekeeper for many years and had been engaged. Her fiance was killed.

In WW2 my uncle was in the engineering corps and was among those who entered-I think it was Belson-at the end of the war and had the task of burying the piles and piles of bodies the Nazi's left. He never talked about it so I don't know the details.

Now we know those who have served in Iraq.

Tomorrow-we remember and pray


gemoftheocean said...

Such a poignant post. In the whole of the UK I bet there was hardly a family not similarly affected. I can well imagine Jack's picture was reserved in a very special place in your grandmother's home. I can also imagine the children not daring to ask much about it either.

Anonymous said...

good post...all my family were living in Ireland during both World we have very little war history thanks be to God..obviously Ireland (Southern had its own problems..)

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Karen, I think that's about right. The death toll was astonishing in WW1.

Jackie-I think part of my gran's bitterness was she was Irish-Kennedy's of Limerick-and felt used. My grandad was English (from the recusant family I mentioned)but gran's family had escaped to England from the Famine and I think she felt the Irish should not have been in the fight at all; least of all her little brother.

Marie said...

WWI was a slaughter so many young men paid such a high price even when the war concluded. The effects on the men were severe, both mentally and physically.

My Grandpa was at Gallipoli and France, yet he would never discuss it:(.

Thanks for sharing this Whitenamestoneseeker:).

Peace to you:)


swissmiss said...

My husband's great uncle was missing in WWI and from what I hear, it was so painful that he (his memory) wasn't really talked about by the family. My father was in the Navy in WWII and his ship was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. My brother has been to Iraq once and may be going again. Many, many members of my family served in the military so it is a very somber day all around.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have the fighting in my own country though. Such devastation.