Wednesday, 4 June 2014

D-Day Tribute

D-Day Tribute #d-day #d-daytribute #wartimememories

As a nation we have grown up respecting the contribution that our families and Forces made to D-Day and the World Wars.  Most families have their own stories either from the home front or the front line and I thought it may be fitting to commemorate some of my family’s tales from the war via this blog in honour of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings this week.

The Thetis Diving Trial

My family were originally from Birkenhead, near Liverpool and so worked on the ship yard, making their contribution as welders to the ships that left from historical yard, Cammell-Laird.  My great-grandfather was one of a crew of men that worked on the famous submarine HMS Thetis. There was to be a trip to celebrate the final diving trials and many of the technical crew who had worked on HMS Thetis were asked to participate on this voyage on 1st June, 1939. My great-grandma described to my grandma that she just had a ‘funny gut feeling’ the day before and set great-grandfather’s alarm clock one hour later so that he missed the launch.  He was cross that he had missed out and rushed to the shipyard. Thetis sunk on this dive due to technical issues and tragically 99 of the 103 men on board the submarine died that day.

Great Aunt Nellie and the wellie!

Great Aunt Nellie was the daughter of my great-grandfather’s friend whose wife had died when Nellie was very young. My great-grandfather pledged to take care of Nellie should anything happen to him and sadly after he lost his life in the war, Nellie came to live with our family.
Our family, like many others, had an Andersen shelter at the bottom of the garden and every evening when the air raid sirens would sound, the family would gather in this shelter waiting for the ‘all clear’. One particular evening, my great-grandma, my grandma Muriel and great auntie Nell were in the shelter.  A bomb dropped in the next street and the Anderson shelter was violently shaken. Great-grandma asked if everyone was ok and Muriel replied that she was fine. There was no answer from Nellie and great-grandma feared the worse and started to scream until the lights came on and it was revealed that Nellie had in fact been knocked out by a giant pair of great-grandfather’s wellington boots!

Three cheers for the red, white and blue

My grandma Muriel, Nellie and her older sister, Gladys always remembered comments about how well turned out they were during the war considering the rations at the time. Local mothers would often ask my great-grandma where she acquired such quality ribbons for the children’s hair.
Grandfather worked as a foreman at Cammel-Laird shipbuilders and repairers. One of his duties was to prepare ships for launch including dressing them with the launch day ribbons. Once the ship’s ribbon had been cut, grand-father took the ribbons and gave them to his wife. It was with some pride that the ladies in family always wore red, white and blue!

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