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Have you ever experienced war?

(25 Posts)
nanna8 Sun 11-Apr-21 06:20:10

My parents had, they were both in the RAF. A few years ago I came across an old lady we were helping who was in Berlin during the Second World War. She was a nurse, German born. She had an awful memory of her house being bombed and crawling out from under a pile of dead bodies. She never forgot the horror.
I was thinking how lucky that many of our post war boomers have never had this horrible thing happen. Those from Ireland will have had experience of bombings as will some of those from different parts of the world, particularly the Middle East and those who served in the armed forces.
That is one of the reasons I felt really sad when Brexit happened because I think and still think it gave a small measure of protection against a European war.
War is so damaging in so many ways. My parents were damaged and I see that now, though in those days they just ‘got on with it’ Counselling and therapy were unheard of.

silverlining48 Sun 11-Apr-21 07:29:58

My German mother was a young girl when WW2 started and later had to leave her town with only the few things she could carry. Her home and town were completely flattened and she lived as a refugee for about 5 years and was never able to return.
Her experiences were common to many in those terrible times and this affected her for the rest of her life.

Nonogran Sun 11-Apr-21 08:20:50

My mum, still alive & well, a contemporary of our Queen, was a teenager/young woman during the war years. She lived near a major British port which was subject to hours of bombing raids. It must have been terrifying. Well, yes, from what she's told me, it was.
Recently, in a major Devon city an unexploded German bomb had to be safely detonated as it was too fragile to be safely moved. Some people had to be evacuated overnight, others sustained minor damage to their homes. You'd think the end of the world had come.

LullyDully Sun 11-Apr-21 08:22:58

Thank goodness, no. My heart goes out to people caught up in wars when all they wish for is to live their lives without fear.
My generation just missed the 2nd World War,thankfully, but grew up with all the stories. A pandemic is awful but a war far worse in all respects.

vampirequeen Sun 11-Apr-21 08:28:55

DH served in the Gulf War. He still has nightmares. Out of four of them who were close friends, one died of wounds, one committed suicide not long after returning home, and two suffer nightmares but rarely talk about it. On the odd occasion DH has spoken, he has told me such horrific things that it's no wonder he has nightmares and, he says, they're not the worst things that happened. War is evil and should never take place. All wars eventually end with governments talking to each other. Surely we can bypass the horror and go straight to the talking stage. But then those that declare war aren't the same people who suffer and die fighting or innocents who become collateral damage.

M0nica Sun 11-Apr-21 08:35:32

I was born in 1943 and we lived in South London, under the V1 and V2 flight paths. It traumatized my mother, she never slept well for the rest of her life.

Before my birth the area was on the flight path for the German bombers, wthe area where they jettisoned any bombs they had not managed to drop on the docks. One of these jettisoned bombs landed on my maternal grandmother's house and destroyed it. She and my aunt were lucky to get out alive.

Until we moved out of London when I was 5. I was terrified of planes and if I saw one when at home I wuld run and hide under the dining table. I was not sure why.

My father was in the army and served in Singapore and Malaya during the terrorist 'Emergency'. All trains between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had an armed patrol of soldiers on board and my father was in command of these patrols on several times. The only time I ever saw him with a gun.

Travel outside the boundaries of towns and villages inside the 'Black Areas', where terrorists were operating, was in armed convoy only, army vehicles with a group of armed soldiers, front and back. Extra armed vehicles in the centre if the convoy was long.

I have never experienced gunfire or fleeing as a refugee, and I 'remember' the war through my own instinctive reactions, to anything that reminded me of it. But I lived beside war, WW2, Korean War and Malayan emergency for most of my first 10 years and later in my mid teens.

GrandmaTrisha Sun 11-Apr-21 08:54:59

My son serves in the army and has done two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan with an infantry regiment. During all of these, he has seen some terrible things and has been in some terrifying situations. I’m sure too that I only know of those he wants me to know about or is allowed to speak of.
I know it’s not the same as actually seeing war yourself but an army mum (and Dad) have many, many sleepless nights until they are home safe again.

Humbertbear Sun 11-Apr-21 09:02:23

My mother is 100 and so experienced the war. As a young child in the 50s the war was still very real to both my parents. My father served for 6 years in the army and talked about it a lot. Hanging over us was the shadow of all the family members who had been murdered by the Nazis. I still remember when two ‘lost ‘ relatives suddenly turned up alive and well.

Grandma70s Sun 11-Apr-21 09:16:41

I was born in 1940, and like M0nica I was terrified of planes. I thought they were all going to bomb us, especially Spitfires. With a horrible name like that they must be enemy planes. Somehow the sound of planes got mixed up in my mind with the buzzing of bluebottles, so I was terrified of those, too.

My father was in a reserved occupation, teaching, so we weren’t directly involved, but nevertheless the war (and postwar austerity) dominated my childhood. I was lucky in that my parents were quite enlightened, had always had friends from mainland Europe, so I always knew that not all Germans were bad.

Lovetopaint037 Sun 11-Apr-21 09:24:53

I was born in the summer of 1941. I have vivid snapshot memories of being taken down to sleep in an air raid shelter which had bunk beds. I remember the sound of planes and asking my mother if “they were naughty”. I remember distinctly the way she said”VERY naughty”. I remember hiding beneath a table as my gran tried to make a game of it as the bombers could be heard overhead. I remember being told not to go near windows that were taped up to prevent flying glass. Then there was that VE party in the grounds of the flats we lived in in the middle of Chelsea and the Punch and Judy show. After that I became used to living close to bomb sites and my young brother picking up strange objects which we thought might be “bombs”. What stayed with me was the hiding under a table which appeared as dreams well into my thirties.

Polarbear2 Sun 11-Apr-21 09:49:33

My mum was about 22 when the war started. She worked as a tailors assistant in the city. (Sheffield). One day she got up to go to work and there was not much city left. Her workplace was a hole in the ground. She decided to join up and was in the ATS as a colour sergeant major. She was offered a commission but refused as she felt she couldn’t afford the officers mess bar bills. My dad was younger and was conscripted near the end of the war. He went into the Argyll and Sutherland highlanders. We have photos of him in his kilt. Strange for a lad from Sheffield. He worked to clear the death camps and then later went to Aden. He never spoke of what he saw.

Nannarose Sun 11-Apr-21 10:05:57

I count myself as deeply fortunate not to have experienced war first hand. As many of our generation did, I knew those who had experienced both deep grief, and permanent mental breakdown from the wars they had been in.
I later experienced this as a nurse, working with survivors from wars around the world, and the trauma they carried with them.
I sometimes cannot believe how much more money we are willing to spend on the machinery of war, compared to the promotion of co-operation.

henetha Sun 11-Apr-21 10:35:24

I was 2 years old when WW2 started and lived in Plymouth, so my earliest memories are of bombs and explosions. I was 8 when it ended so I remember gas masks, ration books, feeling terrified, food shortages, planes overhead, bombed streets.
Also, sharing food, the friendliness of neighbours, making do with what we had, listening to a crackling radio, sleeping under the stairs until proper shelters arrived. Starting school and finding the corridors lined with sand-bags. And always feeling scared. I had nightmares for years afterwards.

Auntieflo Sun 11-Apr-21 10:49:10

I was born in 1942, and do remember going into the garden shelter. Later my grandad, who lived with us, dismantled it and made some sort of Heath Robinson arrangement, that helped my little brother to walk. I also remember being stung by a wasp/bee? and walking up the garden path back to the house for some TCP.
Our house backed onto a small orchard, and I can remember mum looking out and seeing the trees draped with parachutes from bombs that had been dropped, but not exploded.
This next story, is not remembered, but was told to me by Mum.
One day I was out playing in my sand pit. Mum was pegging out washing, when she caught a glimpse of something shining in the sand. I was dragged indoors, and somebody? was informed. The UXB team turned up at our door, and were extremely pleased to unearth a bomb, the kind of which was new to them.
We also had lovely neighbours, honorary Aunties and Uncles.
Dad was not conscripted as he had a reserved occupation job as an engineer, and was involved in PLUTO.
I do remember Mum bringing home, in the big old coach built pram, aluminium parts, that had to be filed down before being used for construction.

Blossoming Sun 11-Apr-21 11:32:56

No, I am fortunate to have not had that experience.

MaizieD Sun 11-Apr-21 11:50:22

I haven't had that experience but a few stories from my parents, reading about wartime experiences, and seeing the many examples of warfare currently occurring around the globe right now don't make it difficult to understand just how abhorrent war is and how dreadful it must be for those actually experiencing it; even if we can never know the full horror.

TerriBull Sun 11-Apr-21 12:45:18

Both my parents were 19 when the war started so some of the best years of their lives, were I imagine very fraught.

I know my father spent much of the war stationed in Libya which gave him an enduring hatred of sand. I remember him moaning about sand whenever we were on the beach as children.

My paternal grandparents lived in Wimbledon which is practically London so from what I gather they like everyone else spent much of the war fearing for their lives and home. The same for my mother's family who lived in Bromley again close proximity to London. My mother as a young woman worked at a central London Telephone exchange, my grandfather would always be anxious and paced the road to meet her wherever she got off at on her return journey. I also remember her telling me once "the war destroyed many relationships" I think she had a Canadian boyfriend who was killed. My parents didn't meet till about 1947 I believe. Later on in life, in retirement my mother met a woman who she became friendly with at one of the social clubs she went to and when reminiscing about the war, they found out they were either side of the Thames on one particular day when a lot of incendiary bombs were dropped that had remained in both their memories.

In retrospect, I think my generation have been very lucky in comparison to parents and grandparents, the latter having experienced the horrors of two world wars.

maddyone Sun 11-Apr-21 13:32:42

No, I haven’t experienced war as I was born in 1953. However like all the rest of us, I grew up hearing the war stories of my family’s experiences during WW2 and WW1. My own grandmother lost two of her three brothers during WW1 and the third was injured. I’ve seen her cry for those lost boys some 50 plus years later, and this had a profound effect on me. I know their names, their ranks, their medals, their age when they died, everything she could tell me about them.
My mother told me about the air raid shelter, the air raids, the rationing, everything about every day life in WW2. My father was in the army and was in the final push to liberate Europe in 1945. He fought in Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He was shot by a sniper in the Reichswald forest. He used to suffer terrible nightmares but these gradually receded over his lifetime. He only ever opened up about his experiences in later life.

Katek Sun 11-Apr-21 13:51:11

Not what you would call conventional war but we lived on the ‘front line’ of the Cold War. My father was stationed in the Ops Room in Rheindahlen, Germany between 1963 - 1966 This was the HQ for the British Army of the Rhine/Royal Air Force Germany and several other national forces. I was in my teens at the time so well understood what would happen to the base and all in it should WW3 ever have broken out. We used to have practice nuclear alerts - just randomly, not scheduled, and if the siren didn’t drop after so many seconds then it wasn’t an exercise but a genuine alert. Fortunately, as we all know, this scenario did not occur but living with this caused significant psychological pressure on lots of people, myself included.

timetogo2016 Sun 11-Apr-21 13:54:31

Thank goodness no.
But my grandfather was,and bless him was blown up driving the wounded soldiers to hospital.
We have to realise how lucky we are today.
Hopefully our heroes who are in the services come home safely.

Welshwife Sun 11-Apr-21 14:35:30

I was born in 1940 very near to where Heathrow is now. My mother told the story of how when I was a baby she failed to hear the siren and was carrying me across to my grandmother and aunts who lived behind us. As she was walking across the gardens she heard a noise looked up and saw a plane - then saw the swastika and the face of the German pilot!
We moved to the SW side of the airport in 1943. My father was in a reserved occupation working on radar so was at home but worked 12 hour shifts and then did local fire watch and was a sergeant in the Home Guard so very busy.
I remember the black out and having thick black lining to our curtains. I remember the food shortages and queuing everywhere and the delight when something scarce was in the shops. We had fruit trees and kept chickens so had a supply of eggs which the neighbours shared and my mother had a second enamel breadbin she had water glass in to preserve some eggs - these she used for baking as they tasted slightly tangy and no one liked to eat them. The fruit she preserved in Kilner jars or made jam.
We had anti aircraft lights on what later became the playing field of the local primary school when it was built.
For all the time of rationing my mother swapped tea coupons for margarine ones - she did not use all our tea ration and a neighbour could not buy enough for her husband and sons. This led to a lifelong friendship. The husband and sons were all plumbers and my father only ever needed to speak to one of them and whatever the problem was always fixed even after they were all retired!
Seeing all the rubble when we went into London to see my grandparents and cousins was dreadful - whole swathes of bricks in piles and empty spaces. Once we stayed with my grandmother and the siren went and the shelter was a communal one under the stairs of the flats they had been rehoused in - it was kitted out with some beds and tables and chairs and shelves full of jigsaws and books - we had a Morrison shelter at home in our dining room and my parents slept on their mattress under it and my father slung a small bed for me across their feet - so this communal shelter was quite good fun for me!
I do think though that all this early experience made me a nervous person and even now I do not feel comfortable being too far away from my base.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 11-Apr-21 14:46:39

My grandfather was in the army during WW1.

As a result of an ill judged decision by Churchill he was badly injured in Gallipoli. He lay injured on the beach at the foot of the cliffs for 3 days waiting for help.

He never fought again due to the resultant disability.

silverlining48 Sun 11-Apr-21 16:50:14

I often think how truly terrible it must have been for our parents and grandparents to endure two long wars fought only twenty years apart. So many casualties in 1914-1918 and again 1939-1945. Basically most of the first half of the twentieth century was taken up with wars.

M0nica Sun 11-Apr-21 18:10:19

When DF was called up in early 1940 he was trained in using an anti-aircraft gun and was in a unit of Royal Artillery soldiers manning an ti-aircraft guns around the Fort Dunlop site in Birmngham.

One night when he was in a group operating the gun on the top of the roof, near the cupola, a German bomber was flying directly across the site and it was clear that one of the bombs would be dropped on them. By some miracle the bomb was a dud and failed to explode so he lived to tell the story.

nanna8 Thu 15-Apr-21 09:17:35

One of my mum’s jobs when she was in the RAF was sorting through deceased soldiers’ effects and sending them home to their family. She was horrified to come across those of her fiancé who was a pilot. This was before she met my dad and she always used to say she ‘married on the rebound’. So many lives are changed irrevocably by war.