On this Memorial Day, I would like to pay tribute to the soldiers in my family:
My maternal grandfather, Jack Wallis, who was a radio operator in the Royal Navy in the North Sea during World War I. He was 17 when he enlisted.
My paternal grandfather Henry Victor Smith, who also enlisted at age 17, and took care of the horses for the British army in France and Belgium. Perhaps his happiest memory from the war was stumbling across a nest with eggs which he shared with his starving comrades. My grandfather didn’t suffer fools gladly. After the war, he ran into his commanding officer in Derby. His CO had ordered his men into battle, but instead of leading them, he stayed back behind the front lines while they advanced. My grandfather “didn’t half give him a bollocking,” cursing him out in the middle of Derby for being a “coward.” I’m sure his CO never forgot this.
Henry Smith’s brother, Norman Smith, also served in the army during World War I.Norman was gassed by the Germans and developed a weak heart which troubled him his entire life and led to an early death.
All four sons of my maternal great-grandmother, Alice Durward, fought in World War II: Reg, Eric, George, and Jack Durward.
Luckily, all of these men came home, but one, Bert Dewar, a Scottish cousin, did not.
Maurice Durward said:
Hi Ginnie, Its the first time I have seen your blog coz I am not very adventurous with my PC. What I can do I can do fairly well but I don’t try anything new in case I make a mess of it.
The pics of the men are very good and the one of REG is great. I will print one off and send it to his youngest son Roy who never really knew his Dad coz his parents separated straight after the war. I knew Reg suffered from a bad heart as a result of his stretcher bearing at Dunkirk. I was told he was a Medic but I was never sure whether he was in the Medical Corps or a Regimental medic. Now I know.
Are you sure that is Eric coz I do not have a good photo of him, and neither have his Grand children, but I will share it with the ones I am still in touch with. Eric was in the Royal Engineers I think but that puzzles me coz he worked for the GPO before the war and I would have thought that he would have been sent to the Royal Signals Regiment as they dealt with all communications.
George was constripted into the Royal Engineers and coz he was a chef in civvy street he was made a Regimental cook, which was normal at that time. He was promoted to L/Cpl within a few weeks then shortly after he was promoted again to Cpl. In about 1941 the War Office created the Army Catering Corps and Dad had to go on a course to Aldershot to learn how to cook Army style. He passed the course and was then promoted to Sgt and transferred into the Catering Corps. He served with the Commandoes in Braemar then Achncarry with Lord Lovat and in 1944 he was transferred to the 1st Btn East Lancs and went over to France with them. He was wounded at Caen and sent back to UK where he served the rest of the war with various formations then he was sent to Scotland to serve with the Cameronians.
I think it is a shame that you do not have photos of Eric and George in uniform as you are talking about the soldiers in your family.I have a few photos of Dad in uniform but only one of Eric which is very faint/blurred. I will send then to you.
If you have any more pics of any of the Uncles /Aunts could you send them to me via attachments to Emails, I can deal with them. I have very few photos of them.
I sent away for dads Service records so if you need to find anyones war records I have the details of where to send off to.
Bye for now.
Virginia A Smith said:
Hi, Mo, great to hear from you with all the information that I never knew!
We don’t have a photo of Eric in uniform, just this one. My mum said it’s Eric, so I’m relying on her.
This is all I have of the Durward boys, I think, but I’ll send along ones of Cisme, my Granny, and Gladys. I’d love to see copies of the service records when you get them.
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