My late father (right) - RAF, North Africa, Italy, Yugoslavia.
(The beret's another story!)
My grandfather was an airman also. FE on a Halifax. Crash-landed in Cherbourg, Normandy in Sept '41 after a raid on Turin. They got lost in bad weather, ran out of fuel, crash-landed in France, thinking it was Kent. He spent the best part of the next four years as a PoW. Him and a friend escaped from a forced-march and got back to allied forces right at the very end of the war. He donated his lucky rabbit's foot that he'd kept since the war to the RAF Museum at Hendon in 1974. There is a self portrait he made when he was a PoW that used to be on display at the museum. (I can't believe he escaped, and still managed to bring his painting with him.)
My grandfather never spoke of the war. The only reason I know the stuff about him, is when he was dying of cancer in '83, he wrote his memoir, which I later read in 2000. I've also gleamed some stuff off the No.35 Squadron website.
It was funny reading my grandpa's memoir though. The worst thing about being a PoW was 'not being able to have a wank in peace'. Not the terrible food, or the maltreatment by guards. That was an eye-opener, I thought it was my generation that invented 'self-abuse'. That, and the fact my grandpa did not like Douglas Bader at all. (Not a personable fellow inmate apparently.)
That's what I respect about that generation. They did what they had to do, and kept it to themselves for the most part.
I had no idea what my grandpa had gone through till I read his own words long after he died. He was just a pleasant, lovely fella who had lots of aeroplane stuff in the back room where he did his painting and drawing to me.
Way, way off topic I know. But the lads and lasses that made those sacrifices in the '40s are the reason that the subsequent generations in the '60s and '70s were free to indulge themselves in those styles and fashions that we still appreatiate today.
No I can't for the death of me remember but it was tied in with a motor bike ride and getting promotion and a new uniform made as it could be tailored as it was an officers rank but the hat was not ready yet . Also mentioned he was going to meet his brother and something about the gloves that they are wearing .But again I read constantly and might got two books or articles mixed up
Those "working class lads" would have been better off in the book club in my opinion. Most who went to Spain were recruited and sent to their premature deaths by counter-revolutionary Stalinist CP's. If they were fighting anything in Spain it was in defense of capitalist production and the state AGAINST the working class. 'Anti-fascism' is a ruling class ideology. It's worth noting that in WW1 the unions acted as recruiting sergeants to the inter-imperialist carve up and the deaths of needless millions of workers. I thought at least this forum wouldn't be full of patriotic and nationalist banality. It is in the interest of all workers not to fight other workers but fraternize, disobey orders, strike etc.
My Great Uncle was in the Korean War he refused to talk about it as well word is he had to kill a child solider or be killed himself.