There weren’t many surprises as I looked through my Grandad’s service record. I have been meaning to write about it for a few years and so I have scanned over it a few times. The headlines of what he did in the war that I outlined in the last post were already known to me. However, when I digitised his service record and therefore had to look at some of the more wordy pages in more detail, a couple of things stood out to me that I hadn’t previously realised.
The first of these was that the service and release book was just that: Grandad was only released from service at the end of the War, he wasn’t discharged. The book is full of references to this in the small print, and in some places, the print isn’t even so small – take a look at this page:
“NOT BEEN DISCHARGED”… It’s pretty ominous.
It made me wonder what life was like immediately after the war. The archive pictures of VE day look pretty awesome – but I suppose there must have been a tension that with so much of the World having been at war, things might flare up again.
Grandad finished overseas service on 13th May 1945, 5 days after VE day which began on 8th May. VJ day is 15th August, a full three months later, but the official signing of the surrender document, and therefore the end of the 2nd World War proper didn’t take place until 2nd September. Grandad was released from service on the 5th September.
That must have been a strange few months. The soldiers had worked so hard up until May 1945 to achieve Victory in Europe and the languished around (my guess) for the rest of the Summer until Victory in Japan was achieved. I wonder what that must have felt like – was there an expectation, or even a fear of being called up to the conflict with Japan? Was Grandad weary of war by then and desperate to finish?
It must have been a joy to finally have that release document signed and be able to start a life away from the threat of war on the 5th September. But the threat still hung over Grandad: he had NOT BEEN DISCHARGED and therefore could have been called up for a remobilisation at any time.
You can see all the photos of my Grandad’s Service and Release Book here.