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This is a question Grandparents

My awesome grandad flew in Wellingtons in the war. Damn, those shortages were terrible. Tell us about brilliant-stroke-rubbish grandparents.

Suggested by Buffet the Appetite Slayer

(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 21:51)
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See if I've beat little sister to this...
Both our Grandads died within 6 weeks of each other last year. As with any death/funeral, it is amazing how much of the deceaseds life turns out to be any mix of awesome, frightening and fascinating.

First to go was Grandad on Dads side. Used to visit maybe an afternoon every year (lived 200 miles north, bit of a trek). When I was little we usually went to see his allotment, until he got too old for it. Used to keep chickens too. Me being a Derbyshire lad and him an Ashington coal miner meant we could barely understand each other, so often Dad had to translate. Just another old coal miner it seemed...

He started down one of the pits round Ashington aged 14. I forget which one. At 18 he joined the Northumberland Hussars, he was one of the last mounted cavalrymen. When horses were withdrawn from combat he retrained in the artillery. During WW2 he served in India on the northwwest frontier, and learned to ride camels in the maldives. He narrowly avoided being sent to Burma, just as his unit was moving someone realised that, because he'd volunteered before the war, he should have gone home months ago! Anyone who knows of what happened in Burma will appreciate what a lucky escape he had.
After the war, he was involved in cleaning up the concentration camps. This only came out when little sister went to Auschwitz as part of an A level history trip (the name of the one grandad helped clean up escapes me, began with a B I think). He told us how the Jewish woman were asked what things they needed. As well as food and medicine, they asked for lipstick. After years of being sub-human, being able to start looking nice for the allied soldiers was a huge help in getting back to a normal life.

Another tale comes second hand from Dad. When he (Dad) was little, the family went out for one of these newfangled Indian meals (this would have been sixties I think). So there they were, happily demolishing a curry, whilst an Indian family sat next to them were talking in their own tongue. Grandad was looking at them a bit odd, and kept doing so. Eventually he butted into their conversation, in the same language. Turned out they were discussing a battle that he had fought at. When he had explained all that they invited Grandad to join them, and were very pleased to meet someone who had fought for them, and remembered the language.

And finally...Grandad always loved horses. A few months before he died, his retirement home took him to a disabled riding school to have one last ride. There's an article here: www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2010/02/26/cavalryman-george-spowart-92-rides-for-last-time-61634-25917972/

If anyone involved is reading-thankyou. I just wish I'd got to know him better.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 13:44, 12 replies)
Awesome story
Good work, nice fella, cute photo.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 13:47, closed)
^ Clicks
Nice story
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 13:57, closed)
Click for you
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 13:57, closed)

A great story! Pity I can only click once!!
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 14:25, closed)

He even tried a wee jump! Aww, that's brilliant. He sounded great. :). Good story and nice link.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 16:18, closed)
This is brilliant!
Made me well up a bit. Bloody hormones.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 17:55, closed)
When he had explained all that they invited Grandad to join them, and were very pleased to meet someone who had fought for them, and remembered the language.
This made me cry a little. God bless the old fella.
(, Sat 4 Jun 2011, 1:02, closed)
The concentration camp
was probably Belsen?
(, Sat 4 Jun 2011, 18:05, closed)

That's what I thought too.
(, Sun 5 Jun 2011, 5:34, closed)
or Birkenau?

(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 21:28, closed)
I hope, if I ever end up in a nursing home
that it's the kind of nursing home he went to. That's lovely, and bravo to them.
(, Sun 5 Jun 2011, 16:44, closed)
Magic story, nice one.
(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 21:29, closed)

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