Went to France to see the WW1 Commonwealth Graves again earlier this month, and a really interesting war story was revealed by my Dad, concerning his side of the family.
I believe it it concerns my great Aunt, my Grandmothers Aunt. She had 9 sons, most serving in the Cameronian Highlanders (I think), in WW1, but I know at least one served elsewhere in the Royal Artillery. All 9 joined up to fight. 8 were killed, and the decision was made to send the ninth home due to the familys loss (the son in the Artillery), but not before he had both his legs blown off. I've seen all their medals, a few letters and things.
Very very sad story, kind of real life Saving Private Ryan stuff.
I found so many of my relatives on the Thiepval memorial. An incredible monument to the incredible sacrifice these men made. Very poignant is the Cemetary behind it, containing 300 French and 300 British soldiers, side by side.
Mothers side: Grandfather was a doctor and responsible for a large rural area in tirol(austria). That and a problem with his left eye(almost blind - not 100% sure what it was) made him more suitable to „serve“ the homefront as civillian. Died in the 70‘s never met him.
Fathers side: Grandfather worked in a submarine dockyard in Danzig(Schichau Werft). http://www.u-boot-archiv.de/bau/werf...au_danzig.html (sorry german). He worked on several submarines and later was put in Wehrmacht service. More or less (un)voluntary - not that there was a choice afterall. After a short period of fighting he was captured by the russians and brought to siberia. There he was the only survivor of his unit. (can‘t tell which unit) There was one day he was saved by some russians in a snowstorm while doing work on railroad tracks which was also the cause for the loss of almost all his fingers... and comrades. A shot of vodka and the dislocating of his shoulder was the only anaesthetization he got when they amputated his fingers behind his back, but of course he was very thankful that they even cared about him (which was kind of unusual, since he was still the enemy and they had their own shortcomings) and never lost a bad word about russians.
He returned in the early/mid fifties. In this time my father, who was born in the war grew up with the idea his father fell in the eastern front. My fathers family fled back to northern germany where they actually where coming from. One day my grandfather was standing in the door. My father never talked about that moment. I know it from my aunt. My grandfather died when i was 7. I just remember that he never spoke much, had all his fingers gone with partially bones sticking out and as my father told me he has never had a cold or any kind of flue in his rest of his life, because siberia seemed to have toughened him mentally and obviously his immune system. I don‘t think he had a warm relation to my father.
My great-grandfather(mother's side) was killed during the battle of Crete. He was a volunteer in the Cretan guard and was shot by German soldiers in Maleme airport.
My other great-grandfather was reported missing in the Greek-turkish war in 1922. He was 19 then. Luckily he was captured and held prisoner for one year until he was released.
My uncle in law (I don't know if this is the correct word) is Greek-Cypriot and was injured during the Turkish invasion. He still can't walk well.
My grandmother brother served on U-boots during WWII. He never returned from war and i don't know anything else about him. His cousin served in wermaht and also died. My grandgrand father was arrested after WWII by russians and we never hear about him agin, our familly is the only one on my street that wasn't expeled after war because my grand grand fahter barricaded dors. In my father village there was old man who fought at Stalingrad. He told him once how russian assault looks like. "They were running at us and we shoot till our MGs overheat and jammed. And they keep marching. They started shooting back at close range. We build fortifications from dead russian bodies because there were soo many dead that it was impossible to shot from trenches." In same vilage there was skirmish bewen german tank(ppl say it was tiger) and three T34. One T34 was destroyed other two pulled back. When wreckage was removed it sill had round in his main gun. Later germans burned and sunked tank and apc in nearby swamp.
That wasn't T34 they sunk german tank. Last remains of T34 was removed sometime after war. And yes they are still propably there because no one dare to go to this swamp.
I also know few "fun" military stories.
When my father was in millitary they had excercises with ABC troops. After exercises two guys got their butts burned because "elephants" screw the job and left some "stuff" on bench.
Other one is from my friend who is currently in military. During the exercises round got struck in mortar. The guy tried to push the round down the barrel hiting it with second round. Fortunatly he was stopped before he pushed his luck too far.
Last one is from my summer trip with few friends we traveled on foot thru forest near Legnica city. We always use foresters maps because they allow to make shortcuts. Unfortunatly military areas and such are not marked on it, especialy when you have only xeroed part from it. My friend heard call of nature and go to get some privacy. Few second later we saw him kicking something and yelling. " Hey guys there is a dud round here." I never was lying on the ground so fast. He was kicking old HE tank round. We found few more around. It was a bit strange but you expect such things whe you travel thru area that for many years was one big training ground. Later we saw strange sight like from the move. Two american style barracks and flag pole. The gras was quite high but it was cut almost at straight line. Few second later three soliders came to us asking. "Are you don't know this is a military area?" We were deep in to military training grounds without even knowing it. The reason was quite simple. They build the bridge above road so military vehicles when passing don't interrupt civilian traffic. They also post signs but they done it on the road. When we were crossing the bidge we wasn't able to see what was written on them.
It wasn't possible because we entered part where storage, kitchen and soo was.
Hmm i remember one from time when i was a scout its not quite military but there was some soliders in it. We were at summer camp had three soliders (Cook and two drafted) from nearby military unit to help us. I was assigned to guard duty. You know its dark and every one is sleeping. It can be pretty scary especialy when you are 12 years old. Then i heared some noises nearby. I turned on the flash light and saw huge doberman watching at me. God i never was soo scared in whole my life. Dog must be bit suprised because it runed away. But i hear some other apparently human noises nearby. I woke up commander and he ordered me to woke up soliders. They took tent poles and disappeared in the night. I was alone agin with that dog running somewhere near. I took my knife, flash light an waited. Few mintues later there was a sudden noise and someone yelled. "Dober get him!" Followed by sound of hurt dog. Some ppl were running in the darkness then i heard something that keep me smiling every time i was assigned to guard duties during summer camps. "argh argh dont hurt me... Shut up the children are sleeping! argh argh..." It repeated till they drag him to hut that was our HQ during that camp. What happend: Few young rednecks from nearby village decided to pay us a visit. They damaged one tent and stole some candy bars from our warehouse tent. Their dog was runnig lose around. When they moved towards my camp to wreak some more havoc they were suprised by two soliders. Dog tried to bite one of them and was hit with tent pole. Then guys decided to run. Soliders catched one and let others run. Guys must be quite suprised when they menage to get to their car. Tires were flat because cook find it before them. They had a long trip home just to meet the police, car belonged to one of the guys father and he was propably not very happy.