Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Interview With A Veteran

All days he is with me, and here today on Remembrance Day, I can state that I will never forget.

The picture is of my Dad when he was 17 years old. I can’t help but well up with tears because I love when I see a family face. I see all of my brothers in tiny little pieces, Harry, Dwain, Gerry and Joey. I love how in the family face I am getting glimpses big time of my nephews Jamie and Zac. Nathan and I laughed the other day when looking at this picture because he and I both always have our fists clenched just like that. Nadalene always screams ‘you guys are going to get arthritis.’ How the family face goes on and what a wonderful thing that is.

How many of you guys are with me when I think that Nana probably placed Dad's little cap on his head so jauntily just before they took the picture?

Probably about 10 years ago, I asked my Dad some questions about his time in the military. I had one of those question books about your life and your parents’ lives.

What made you decide to join the military? Were you drafted or was it a personal choice?

I joined the military for two reasons, the first was patriotism and the second was for adventure. It was a personal choice as I joined when I was 17 years old. As an appendix to why I decided to join the military was because I went to see the movie ‘Captains of the Clouds’ and the theme song was ‘We’re off to the big show.’ That movie made me want to join the Air Force.

Were you concerned about the world situation at that time?

Yes, I had grown up during the depression, so I was concerned more about people having jobs. At 17 years old the war seemed far away, while men being able to support their families were more of an immediate concern.

Were there other family members also in the military when you joined?

Yes, I had cousins in the military.

Where were you living when you joined the service?

My parents lived in Winnipeg, but I was working and living in Calgary, Alberta when I joined the service.

What branch did you join?

I joined the RCAF which stood for Royal Canadian Air Force. I said it stood for Really Caught and Fucked.

Where did you undergo your basic training? Was it tough?

I underwent my basic training in Manning Pool RCAF No. 2 in the old Brandon arena in Brandon, Manitoba. The training was strenuous. My training officer was Corporal Turecki and he was a tough miserable bastard.

Did you have any further training? If so, what?

I went to No. 3 RCAF Wireless School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was trained to be a gunner.

What was your area of expertise in the military?

I was a gunner in the planes.

What rank did you hold?

I held the rank of Leading Air Craftsman.

There are many things I know about my Dad’s time in the military, here are a few.

*He turned 18 the day he landed in England.

*He met the love of his life at a dancehall in Aberdeen, Scotland.

*He married the wee lass from Aberdeen within a month and after seeing her only three times.

*His first child (Harry) was born in Scotland.

If anyone can shed light on this one, go for it.

*I am not sure about this one, but I always thought he was shot in the leg during the war. Then I talked to him and I think he said shrapnel hit him. I talked to Shelly about this awhile ago and I can’t remember if she had a different version of it.

I always laugh at this story and honestly, I think it is true. When my Dad went for his physical and had to get checked there was a doctor and a few older soldiers along with other new soldiers getting checked out. He said the doctor looked at his penis and called the other soldiers to come take a look. They then said “Well here he is lads, God’s gift to women.”


Joey said...

I had asked him how he was shot and he said that while in the turret of the plane, the plane was hit and he caught it in the ankle. But did not feel it or even know he was hit until he was walking on the tarmac when he felt a squishing in his boot, looked down saw the blood and dropped to the ground.

Renee said...

Love it Joey. I can't wait to hear everyone's version. xoxoxo

Renee said...

p.s. Joey, I am howling, because I thought I saw the bullet wound in his calf. har har har

jacquie said...

i always thought that dad was shot in the leg as well.
"gods gift to women" and
"how much weight he lost after he was circumcised" was what i heard many times growing up.
(i was there when dad told ricky the one about being circumcised and dad and i both thought ricky was going to choke he was laughing so hard)we all ended up having a good belly laugh at that.
as a PROUD mother i think i can see nana putting the hat on dad's head with such pride.
i miss dad so much and i will go to his grave today and say hi and how proud i was to have him as my dad.
thanks for posting this today renee as some of these details i did not know about dad.

brett & jenn said...

while talking to jenn i was reading her this blog and she informed me that brett asked great grandpa -
what part of the army he was in ?
dad told him he was part of the air force.
brett then asked what he did on the airplane? did he fly it?
dad told him he was a gunner.
then brett asked if he ever got hurt in the war to which dad hiked up his pant leg and showed him where he was shot in the leg.
(this was all last year)
this year at school the teacher asked if anyone had a family member in the war? to which some kids answered they had parents in afganistan or who just got back from there.
brett then adds:
well my grandpa was in the second world war and he was shot in the war and even survived!
brett came home from school and told jenn this story and said his teacher was so surprised that he could hardly believe it.
this whole conversation took place today because brett remembered after jenn and him watched the rememberance day activities on tv that they would then call grandpa and both cried when they realized they could not call him today.

Renee said...

That was so lovely about Brett, thanks for sharing that with me.


Anonymous said...

I'm still reading your blog every day, Renee, and smiling at all the memories on this. :) What a dapper lad your father was! Just wanted you to know, I'm still around, and so is John. We talk about and miss Henri so very much. I sang The Prayer on October 30th for two of the most wonderful men that I've known. :) Thanks for the peek into the past. Special special to read.

Renee said...

Caroline and John, two of my Dad's very favourite people.

Caroline it is late tonight (10:45) for me so I am going to listen to the song tomorrow and you know I will love it.

I would love to hear from you and I will put my email address on the song site tomorrow.

I would love to keep you in our lives, John too. Mom thinks of you both often and wonders how you are doing.

Love you Caroline and thank you for writing.


Emerald Arts said...

Sounds like a pretty groovy book, wouldn't mind doing something like that myself one day :)

My great grandfather said that he joined the army so that he could travel overseas. For Australians to get to any other country back then you had to, that or be ridiculously wealthy.

Taylor said...

So interesting!
i love those self development books... i tend to fill them outmyself. I recall interviewing grandma once about the war; it always came back to the dance in aberdeen.

Anonymous said...

i have never known anyone that is so huge a person and has did so much for everyone. Even though Grampa wasnt rich all the time, he still would give to everyone whether it be in love or advice or even his last cent. At the hospital, when i hugged grampa goodbye and he ripped off his mask and swore at it i can still hear his voice of what he said to me i can still feel his arms around me. I miss him so much and in my hands i hold his wallet as a reminder of how great he was a part of my life and it makes me so happy that i have a piece of him to talk to, touch and its really crazy why i would be saying the odd comment in my head to a wallet... but to me its grampa... everyday i am reminded of how much i love him everytime i go and get money or use a card from the wallet and some how it makes me feel better but the loss is still there and it really hurts that i can't talk to him and hear his voice ...i miss you grampa.. All these stories of what has happened in his life just show how Huge he was as a man, father, grampa -- it is so nice to hear the stories.

Renee said...

Stacy you always say the most wonderful things about Grandpa and I am sure that when you say something he is listening.

Just be still inside yourself and you will hear his words.

I love you Stacy.

Love Auntie Renee

Mary said...

A beautiful tribute to your father.


lakeviewer said...

Hi Renee, thanks for sharing the photo and the facts about your dad. Is he still alive? I love how you have so lovingly preserved his stories.

Rob-bear said...

My uncle (Mom's brother) died from wounds at Vimy Ridge. My father was part of the WW2 teaching team for the RCAF -- in London, Ontario. I and my son have both been "in uniform."

I think, on November 11th, about the waste of war. The waste of material. The waste of human lives -- more often civilians than military.

What is so unsettled, lacking peace, within us -- individually and collectively -- that we have to destroy on such a large scale?