Still tied up. Set of A.M. but tie up off Southend. So cold and all of us stay below. Probably loose this midnight.
I mentioned when introducing my Grandad’s Diary that my experience of World War 2 as an eight-year old (I was 8 when Grandad died), was limited to the Warlord and Commando comics. Not only were these rather jingoistic, portraying a rather one-sided view of World War II, but there was no waiting. No boredom. In Commando, war was immediate, full of action and exciting.
Grandad’s Diary is clear: war is often long periods of mind-numbing boredom. Whether Grandad’s waiting was punctuated by periods of action, tragedy and excitement, I am yet to see. I haven’t got to those pages yet.
I’ve been digitising my Grandad’s old service book. You can see the whole thing in this Google Photos Album, but I thought I’d pick out a couple of my highlights in this post.
I was eight when my Grandad died, but I’m sure that by then I had begun to pester him with questions like “What did you do in the war?” The year was 1980 and I was reading comics like ‘Warlord’ and ‘Commando’. They presented a very one-sided view of the Second World War to me, one in which the British were the goodies and the Germans were the baddies who only knew two words in their collective vocabulary: ‘Nein’ and ‘Achtung’. Of course, 8-year old me has changed considerably, but back then I though the Second World War was glorious. We all have stuff to learn.
My Grandad never really answered the question. In fact, I don’t recall him telling me anything about the war. And we used to talk a lot. But I know now, especially having talked to my Mum (his daughter), that he never liked to talk about the War. I hope to find out some detail as I seek to digitise his diary in the next few posts, but I suspect the answer is all too simple: war isn’t glorious. It’s tragic and messy and terrible.
But back to the basics. What did my Grandad do in the war? As you can see in the image above from the centre of his RAF Service and Release Book, he was an RAF Balloon Operator. He served overseas from D-Day to late September in 1944 and then again from January to May in 1945. He was decorated with the 1934-45 Star, the France and Germany Star and the Defence Medal. He received the highest judge of character (V.G.) and the second-highest proficiency rating of SUPR. The page with the proficiency ratings is here:
All in all his service record is pretty good. I particularly like the personal comments from his commanding officer:
Very keen and capable. Intelligent, possesses good administrative ability.