Thursday, November 11, 2004

Remembrance Day - Veterans' Day - Armistace Day

Just remembering the service of my relatives who, as it so happened, were on the other side of WWI & II. Couple these with my mother's stories of being bombed and living through WWII in Germany - and you can see, I think, how I end up profoundly anti-war.

Maternal grandfather - served in WWI, Civil defense WWII; refused to serve without a uniform when handed an armband and a rifle at the end of WWII.

Maternal Uncle - Trained paratrooper, last NCO in a unit of 40-year-olds on the Russian front - led his unit to surrender to the Americans (desertion, but kept his men out of Soviet prison camps) .

Maternal great-uncle - WWII officer, drowned when the Wilhelm Gustloff (with thousands of refugees) was torpedoed by the Russians.

Maternal great-uncle - WWII soldier, spend many years in Soviet POW camp .

Maternal grandmother's cousins - two sons died in WWI; third son (with heart condition) was pronounced fit in 1945, sent to front, promptly died on heart attack; daughter's husband, WWI pilot with Red Baron, commanded airfield in WWII - when the Americans released him from POW camp the Russians promptly arrested him, sent him to Siberia.

Another set of my grandmother's cousins - one of them had his face blown off by a mine in WWI, was one of the early successes in reconstructive surgery.

Great-grandfather - soldier in WWI; after he was conscripted, his family lost not only his income, but also company housing (he was a mining engineer).

Great-great grandfather was a musician (looks like a bugle in the one picture of him I have) in the Prussian (?) army. Don't know any stories of his service ~1860s - ?

I'm sure some of my maternal grandfather's 6 brothers were soldiers in one of the wars, but I don't know - never thought about it. Must find that out...

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