Monday, 6 August 2012

Old Photos & War Stories

World War II never seems to lose its intrigue for modern generations. I wonder how long this will last, as people my age are probably the last ones who personally know people who actually lived through it. I have always loved it when my grandparents talk about it, because I just can't even begin to guess at how it must have felt to actually live through that, and there they are, sitting down and calmly talking to me about it. It blows my mind. It's definitely the human element that makes it so fascinating to me. For example, my favourite things about the Band of Brothers TV show are the interview clips with the real-life soldiers, which make you think about it in terms of it actually happening to actual people. It's even crazier when it's your own family members.

My maternal grandparents were older than my paternal grandparents, which meant that when WWII hit, my paternal grandparents were at evacuation age, whereas my maternal grandparents were actually involved in the war and so started their family a little later. My grandad was about forty when my mum was born - which is still considered older than average, and must have been even more unusual back then. Neither of my maternal grandparents are alive anymore, and most of what I know about them is second hand. It makes me wish I'd asked more questions! My mum has been telling me a bit more about them recently, so I thought I'd share some photos and stories.


This is my grandad George, circa 1943 in Egypt, presumably following the Allied victory in North Africa. I just found out today that he actually achieved the rank of captain, which I didn't know. So, I present to you: Captain Jacques! I don't know if he was a captain in this photo, as I really don't know enough about army insignia to tell from this photo. I'm very much a fan of the jaunty cap and spats, though. Very dapper. My grandad was over seventy when I was born, so it's just kind of amazing to see him as a young person.

My grandad learned how to drive during the War. Apparently, they just put him in a truck and pretty much told him to get on with it. One of my main memories of him is just how dreadful a driver he was. He didn't think using gears one and three was necessary, so would start in second and move straight into fourth. (He stalled, a lot.) I remember when I started to drive when I was 17 and was telling him stories and he said, completely straight-faced: "Ahh, so they're teaching you to start in first gear these days, are they?" 

All my memories of him are that he was an absolute sweetheart. He used to pick me up from school every Monday and bring a Werther's Original in his pocket for me on the way home. He'd make beans on toast and cut the toast up into tiny little squares for my little sister, even when she wasn't really little any more. He was adorable.


This beautiful lady is my nana Iris, taken circa 1948. During WWII, my nana was in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). She did a lot of work with codes and ciphers, and after the war, she became a comptometer operator for the accountancy firm my grandad worked for. (I have not inherited any of their useful numerical skills, sadly.) I do seem, however, to have inherited her enthusiasm for the humble granny square. I only found this out after developing my own addiction to crochet, and seeing as how I never really knew her, it's nice to feel like we have a connection across the generations! :)

Here is a photo from their wedding in 1950. I love this photo so much! So fifties and beautiful and awesome. It makes me happy to think they lived through what must have been a difficult time and then everything turned out ok ♥ 

alice xox


  1. Consuelo /Misskittenpurr on Twitter7 August 2012 at 00:13

    I really love this post and the story <3<3<3

  2. This is adorable. Your grandpa is such a stud!