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What did your relatives do during WWII?

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  • What did your relatives do during WWII?

    I was thinking about this subject and thought there would be many good stories to tell. It can be about any members of your family, not just your parents.

    My father was in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. He was a mechanic working on bombers (B-25s) in North Africa, Sicily, Corsica, and then Northern Italy at the end of the war.

    My mother (before she knew my father) worked in an armaments plant inspecting cannons before shipping them off to the front.

  • #2
    * My grandfather ( dad of my dad ) was in the 3rd Waffen-SS Panzerdivision "Totenkopf" ( 1939 - 1942 ), he was Junker (instructor) at five SS-Unterscharführerschulen from (1942- 1944), and in the end he came to the 10th Waffen-SS Panzerdivision "Frundsberg".

    He lost his prejudice that the russians would kill every Waffen-SS soldier on May 9, 1945 in Checheslowakia (..yea I know, I just can't write that country's name...), when he was captured with two comrades by "six young, tall, clean-shaved russians, wearing clean uniforms" . Their leader, a sub-lieutenant, came forward and grasped my grandpa's collar. When he saw the SS-Runen, he sprang two steps backward, and raised his smg...
    "My grandpa already imagined impacting bullets in his chest, but then the surprise came: The russian sub-lieutenant said in broken german:

    ( You are Hitler's guard, we are Stalin's guard. War is over, go home to wife and child." )

    My granpa handed over his personal weapon...
    Then the sub-lieutenant pointed to a Wehrmacht - Hauptmann uniform, and told my grandpa and his comrades to trow away their Waffen-SS camo-clothing.
    My grandpa changed from Obersturmführer camo - clothes to Wehrmacht Hauptmann clothes / the other two changed to pullovers ) and he and the other two were lead to a column of POWs, marching to a newly built prison camp in Teplitz-Schönau...from where he and his two comrades were lucky enough to escape...

    ( The escape and everyting before is a very long and fascinating story, too long to write it all down here...)

    Edit: My grandfather's twin brother died on the second day of Operation Barbarossa. ( He served in a Wehrmacht unit. )

    My grandma escaped from eastern Prussia from Gotenhafen in a small vessel, a "Kümo" (=Küstenmotorschiff = coast motor ship ) one day after the "Wilhelm Gustloff" was sunk...

    Regards, Sven

    P.S. I don't know what my mom's parents did during WWII, they're a long time dead...


    • #3
      Father parents:

      Grandfather served in Navy in Vladivostok Naval base in WWII.

      Grandmother took part in rebuilding of Stalingrad.

      Mother parents:

      Grandmother firstly married in June of 1941, three weeks before beginning of war.

      Her first husband went in war in first days of war and missed in action pair months later.

      Her two brothers went in war and didn't return also.

      Grandfather worked in military plant in Ukraine and was evacuated in Omsk together with this plant.

      They married in the end of war.


      • #4
        Heh... a hard task....:thumb:

        From my father's side
        1. My grandpa served as radio-operator on submarine of Pacific Fleet in the middle of 1930s. He took part in tests of Soviet TV-guided torpedos there. In 1941 he was building an oil-pipe line in Far East. Later worked in Moscow.
        1.1. My great grandpa died in 1919
        1.2 my great grandma also died in the same period

        2. My grandma with the rest of the family was evacuated from Moscow to Sverdlovsk where lived and worked until 1943. Then they returned to Moscow.
        2.1., 2.2. The same as grandma. My great grandpa was too old for serving in army that time

        From my mother's side
        3. My grandpa in 1941 have practice in one of the Moscow plants (Heh, now I live quite near it), then was evacuated to Ural (Shadrinsk town of Kurgan region, ShaA-ZIS plant - a subsidiary plant of ZIS one)
        Later he took part in receiving of reparations from Germany and personally leadered a train with plant equipment to Russia in 1945. That time he had a rank of Major.
        3.1. My great grandpa served in field bank department and was missed in Vyazma encirclement. He had a rank ~equal to captain.
        It's very strange detective story and now I'm trying to get more info on this.
        3.2. My great grandma was lucky to escape from Smolensk just before its capturing. The train befor her one was totally destroyed by German aviation. She managed to reach Ordzonikidzegrad (now it's Briansk suburb) and then was evacuated to Shadrinsk to her son

        4. My grandma worked at the same ShaA-ZIS plant
        4.1. No exact info about my great grandpa as he left the family in the early 1920s. He was a military jurist. I know that he had a colonel rank.
        4.1a. The step-father of my grandma (he was German) left the USSR in 1931 and returned to Germany after closing of the "NEP"-New Economy Politics
        4.2. My great grandma worked in NKVD passport office.
        If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....


        • #5
          My father was too young for World War II, but my uncle served in the US Marines.

          He took part in the invasions of Tarawa, Peilelu and Okinawa.

          He continued to serve throught he Korean War.

          He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Korea, becoming one of the charter members of the "Chosin Few", those members of the 1st Mar Div that were at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

          Search in the past, for there you will find your future.


          • #6
            I would like to share a small story that my father told me about the war.

            It was 1944 and my father was at a bomber (B-25) airbase on the island of Corsica. The US had established 8-10 airfields on Corsica arranged North to South along the East coast of the island. My father was on the southern most airfield.

            Early one evening, the Germans decided to launch a series of air attacks against these airfields. They started just after dark and bombed the North airfield first. Then, the German aircraft flew back to Italy, loaded up with more bombs, and returned to attack the next airfield in line. My father said this went on all night and just before dawn they finished up attacking the airfield right next to the one he was on. He could see bombs going off with a flash and burning aircraft and equipment on the horizon. The only thing that saved his airfield from attack was the approaching dawn. He also said that losses of ground crew and aircraft were high; with most men getting hit running form one foxhole to another, looking for a better place to hide. :crazy:


            • #7
              My Grandfather

              My grandfather served on "jeep" carriers in the Pacific. He happened to serve on the same ship as Henry Fonda. They became pretty good friends and my grandfather even had a picture of them two together. Though I have asked my aunt numerous times for my grandfathers war items, she wont give them to me.
              Govenour Of Texas and all southern provinces. Kepper Of The Holy Woodchipper.


              • #8
                My father was an Infantryman in the 80th US Infantry Division. He was an assistant BARman. Got the Combat Infantryman Badge, Victory Europe Medal, Europe Occupation Medal. He took part in 3 of the 4 campaigns the 80th fought in: Rhineland, Ardennes -Alsace, and Central Europe.

                Finished the war on the Enns River. To keep on topic he told of how his unit had to guard the bridge over the Enns river and to not let the Soviets cross. So every day; the Soviets would send over men trying to cross the river and every day; Dad and his unit would have to stop them and tell them to return to their side of the river. It really irritated Dad to have to stop and return the Soviets to their side of the river every day!

                Later on; those without enough points to go home were converted to truck unit and carried furniture to Nuremberg for the War Crimes Trials.

                Here is a link to a short combat chronicle for the 80th ID, 3rd US Army.



                Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

                "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

                What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.


                • #9
                  Well, both of my grandfathers were in WW2...on opposite sides however.

                  Maternal grandfather was German and served in a motorized infantry unit. He saw action early in the war, participating in the invasion of France and Barbarossa. He was injured sometime in fall 1941, discharged, and sent back home. He eventually migrated to the USA after the war (late 1940s) and met my maternal grandmother. I dont have much info on the details unfortunately; he died when I was 4 yrs old.

                  Paternal grandfather was an artilleryman in the U.S. 38th 'Cyclone' Division. He served in the Pacific, fighting the Japanese on various islands. He commanded a 105mm arty battery and took part in the liberation of the Phillipines in 1944. His unit was later nicknamed "The Avengers of Bataan". He died back in 1989.
                  "When you die on the battlefield, make sure that your corpse faces the enemy camp."


                  • #10
                    My paternal grandfather was in the Polish partisans. He interdicted and sabotaged the rail transports going to Stalingrad.

                    My maternal grandfather served with the Polish army on the Russian side. A medical doctor, he retired with the rank of full Colonel.

                    My maternal great uncle died in the Battle of Britain somewhere over the channel serving in the Polish contingent of the RAF.

                    As you might have guessed it, I'm Polish...


                    • #11
                      My grandfathers were too old for WW II, and my father too young.

                      I had a great uncle on my mother's paternal side who was a Marine in the Pacific. The only battle I know for sure he fought in was Iwo. However, he would never speak about it, not even to hsi siblings.

                      My wife had a second or third cousin who was also a Marine at Iwo, and also would not talk about it. According to family members, when he came back from the war he was never the same. Apparently he was quite active and outgoing before his experiences. From my observations, he was very introverted, and needed assistance with mundane things, when in public.

                      Another great uncle, on my mother's maternal side, was a ground crewman for the USAAF in Europe. He stayed in for the transition to USAF, and went on to retirement. Unfortunately I have no info on exactly where he was stationed, and what campaigns he was involved in.

                      My father-in-law was primarily a B-24 pilot in the Pacific. His was an intersting career. I only have his word for it, but based on the accounts he related to me, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. During the 1930s he was a private pilot and race car driver, on Long Island, NY. He began has private career with Burlington Mills as a salesman. Apparently, during one of Wild Bill Donovan's recruiting missins for the OSS, he met my father-in-law, and recruited him. My father-in-law said he was never involved in clandestine operations, but mostly intelligence gathering and other non-combat special assignments. It was hard to explain to his bosses at Burlington why he was away for stretches at a time. I am sure someone in the government smoothed things out for him.

                      When WW II started, he enlisted and was commissioned in the US Army, and became a pilot. He started flying B-25s, and later B-24s. He did get to pilot a B-17 once, but didn't like it too much. During the war he was shot down once, and spent three days in the water awaiting rescue.

                      When the B-29s began to arrive he became a Superfort pilot. He claims to have piloted the photo mission that took place the day after Hiroshima.

                      One particular mission he recalls, was when he accompanied Eleanor Roosevelt on a trip through the Pacific. He had special orders should their plane get shot down, which I won't elaborate on publicly.

                      Immediately after the war he was stationed in Burma to help investigate and combat the black market. He had a few stories on that, but I do not recollect them.

                      Like I said, he had enough facts for me to take him at his word. Besides, with a little digging, I am sure most can be corroborated.
                      Retreat hell, we just got here. Every Marine, a rifleman.

                      Never let the facts get in the way of the truth.


                      • #12
                        My mother's family served Germany during the War. Most of the names are unknown, but we had one in the attempted relief of Stalingrad and one at Normandy.

                        The one I do know was General der Gebirgstruppen August Winter, my grandfather's cousin, the last Director of Operations of the General Staff. His testimony at Nuremberg was interesting and can be read at

                        He describes what was found when his units over-ran Russian units at the beginning of Barbarossa.

                        Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
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                        "Never pet a burning dog."

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                        • #13
                          If you check the WW II forum there is a thread on the same topic. Could a moderator help link these folks to it?
                          Lance W.

                          Peace through superior firepower.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lance Williams
                            If you check the WW II forum there is a thread on the same topic. Could a moderator help link these folks to it?

                            Yep, I know....But I'm a moderator only of this brunch of forum
                            If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lance Williams
                              If you check the WW II forum there is a thread on the same topic. Could a moderator help link these folks to it?

                              Yep, I know....But I'm a moderator only of this brunch of forum
                              If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....


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