It’s quite strange that only when you ask the question do you discover that VE Day – that 75 year away event – is so much closer to your family than you ever knew. I have a story to tell about both my grandparents Thomas.
Firstly, Grandma Joan. Very unusually for that time, my grandmother had a driving license already when war broke out. She “served” in South Wales where the family originated and drove ambulances during the war. No power breaks or steering in those days!
I have uploaded images of Grandma next to the family car and in ambulance uniform.
Now Grandad Viv, He was a medical orderly in the army and had a rank equivalent to a theatre sister today. He served mainly in Egypt and took care of the wounded from the UK and USA armies. He was assigned to the 8th British General Hospital. He was a newly married man when he joined the army in September 1939, returning again in late 1944. He was 23 years old when war broke out. We have been able to trace the movements of the “8th” in Egypt and Italy:
- Port Tewkfit (now called Suez Port) 1940
- Alexandria 1940-1944
- Taranto (Italy) 1944
- Caserta (Italy) 1944
This part of the war campaign was led by Lieutenant-General Montgomery (“Monty”). My grandfather pictured him on an inspection tour of the hospital (attached). It beggars belief for me to think that my own family, just two generations past, was linked to “Monty” and the battle of El Alamein. A famous, or is it infamous, WW2 event.
A newspaper article from the day relation to the 2,000+ days that fighting took place in Europe and the major events.
My grandfather was a gentle and kind man. Little did I realise what he had been through and some of the horrors he must have endured. He spoke very little about the war and avoided conversation on the topic – now I understand why. I have attached some pictures of work at the hospital and a couple of gruesome sights.
I have also enclosed images of Grandad in uniform and the hospital theatre.
LEST WE FORGET