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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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The Doctor
My grandfather was a bit of an inspiration to be honest. The son of a local village vicar, when he was about six years old he tripped on an exposed tree-root and fractured his arm. Although x-rays were extremely experimental in those days, he managed to have his arm checked out by one which was then put in a cast for six weeks (the arm, not the x-ray). During those six weeks he continually moaned about how much his arm was hurting but was told, with the typical bluntness of the mid ‘20’s to put up or shut up.

When the cast was removed from his arm, it revealed a huge mess. The x-ray had fused the wrist bones together, along with the fingers of his left hand, and burnt the skin from wrist to elbow. He endured several years of what can only really be described as incredibly painful surgery (a lot of it was eventually re-worked by Dr. Archie McIndoe for any of you that know about plastic surgery). For all of this, he was rewarded with, iirc, £2,000 compensation from the hospital.

So what would you do in that situation? He was left with a crippled left arm, had missed altogether about 3 years of education and was still in considerable pain. He decided that rather than see anyone else put through the same sort of thing he would become a doctor himself.

To say he saw a lot in his life is a massive understatement. He studied during the Second World War, and was on fire-watch duty when an incendiary bomb hit the Royal College of Surgeon’s hospital at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in ’41 and was the first doctor on the scene. He was the Police Doctor in Jersey for 25 years, spearheading the use of forensics by the police in the hunt for the Beast of Jersey. He was the only official doctor on the scene after the Jersey Airlines crash which killed all bar one on board. But he also saw a lot of life – 5 kids, 12 grand-children and at least 3 great-grandchildren by the time he died.

And the favourite hobby for a man with a pretty-much unusable left-arm? Driving. After the age of around 30, the only cars that he drove were Rolls Royce’s, Daimlers or Talbots. He was the epitome of old-school style, his manners were impeccable and he enjoyed life to the full. I have so many fantastic memories of the man, mostly him sitting in his arm-chair watching his family all around with a gentle smile on his face, waiting for the chime of 5p.m. from the grandfather clock in the hallway when a tumbler of whiskey would appear in his hand as if by magic (although in reality, helped there somewhat by his stalwart wife, my Grandmother) - my favourite memory however was simply chatting to him, man-to-man when I must have been only about six years old about the qualifications on his wall.

He was a true patriarch of his family. He sat at the head of any table he ate at, and deservedly so. He was treated with respect from all that knew him. At his funeral, we had a full police escort from his house to the church – motorbike outriders to stop traffic and cars flanking a convoy of his RR Corniche III, RR Wraith and ’37 Talbot driven by his kids and with the rest of his family packing them out. He had a guard of honour formed by the Police and St. John’s ambulance, with the latter’s flag draped over the coffin, and the church itself had people standing outside because there wasn’t even standing room left inside.

Apologies for the length and the lack of amusement, but it’s been seven or eight years now and I still miss him, along with all of my grand-parents – even the one I never knew. I’m not an emotional person, but I have tears in my eyes as I remember him. I could add so much more – I have a copy of his memoires still, and think I may read them again soon.

Thanks for the opportunity to share.
(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 15:38, 2 replies)
Excellent story, what a dude!
I've had an operation or two at the Plastic Surgery unit in East Grinstead, truly inspiring folk there as well.
(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 15:42, closed)
You are obviosuly very proud of him...
... and quite rightly so.
(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 16:35, closed)

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