Lest We Forget – A Slideshow of Loved Ones

Remembrance Day has always struck a deep chord within me. I look through photos of loved ones who fought for our country and I am struck by how young they are, the smiles for the camera, the hope and promise in their eyes. And I look at other photos of them when we knew them as “Uncle”, “Dad”, “Grandpa” and I look in their eyes trying to imagine what they saw. The stories.

My two grandfathers…Grampa and Grandad …together they won WW1 and then reunited to win WW2. At least that’s what Grandad used to tell us …

My Uncle Roy, merchant seaman, my Granny Gray, war widow, my Uncle Gordon, British Navy, and my Dad, British Army. My Uncle Gordon was only 2 years old when my grandfather, Alexander Gray, was killed in World War Two.

My grandad made it all the way to Russia from England to fight in WW1 before they found out he was under age and sent him back.

I decided this year to make a little slidshow. More stories after the pictures. Enjoy and think, and remember with gratitude. Thanks to all who sent pictures – I love that every single image came with a story from you.

my granddad. He served in WW I and as a home guard in WW II.

My grandfather was deployed to England two weeks after he married my grandmother, in August 1943.  After months of training he began flying combat missions in early 1944.  His crew flew 35 (the maximum number allowed in Bomber Command) and, against the odds, not one member of the crew was so much as scratched.  They were nicknamed the “Jinx Crew” because anyone who flew a plane they had previously used tended to not come back from the subsequent mission.  They bombed cities, laid mines, bombed the defenses at the beaches of D-Day, the works.

My grandfather Joe Sigouin was a Captain in the Canadian Signal Corps. To this day when someone asks me what he did in the army and i say, “Signal Corps” they reply, “Oh, Signal Corps!” with a tremendous amount of respect.

Dad’s first tour was liberating concentration camps. He was 17, just after WWII ended. He did over 600 jumps, saved a guy whose chute hadn’t opened, diving to catch him before opening his own chute.

Alexander Macallan Gray  2nd Lt. in the Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment). Died Aug 27, 1940 from injuries sustained at Dunkirk.

2 Comments to “Lest We Forget – A Slideshow of Loved Ones”

  1. Lovely, Sue. I didn’t get a chance earlier this week to share any stories with you but I will now. The tinted photograph of the young couple on their wedding day is of my paternal grandparents. He had moved to Newfoundland from England in 1936 and met my grandmother there. With Newfoundland still being a colony in 1939, he joined the British artillery until later in 1941 when they discovered that he had failed to tell them he was asthmatic during his physical and they sent him home after a severe asthma attack (these were the days before inhalers). My grandmother, determined not to wait for her betrothed to return, set off from St. John’s in the summer of 1941 on the Geraldine Mary to steam across the Atlantic to get married. Her first name was Gordon so, assuming she was a man, the ship’s crew had her set to bunk with another man. When she arrived and everyone’s true gender was realized, they told her she could stay where she was and they would move the man. But she knew him and knew he was elderly, so she told them it would be easier if she moved to another cabin. One night during their voyage, the Geraldine Mary was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank. Only two people died that night, a crewman and the elderly man who was in the cabin that was supposed to hold my grandmother. They clamboured into lifeboats in their pajamas and were soon picked up by a Scottish merchant ship. Granny made it to Scotland and then south to England where she and my grandfather were married at his family home. She stayed for a while after and ran a canteen truck out to the various training bases. In the early 1950s, she received a cheque from the War Reparation Fund having lost her belongings and wedding trousseau during the torpedo business. She used it to buy a piano, which is what I used for lessons in the 1970s and which now lovingly sits in my home. In 1942, Granny gave birth to my father and named him David after her brother (the man in the colour portrait, even though he was a Newfoundlander, he joined the RCAF as opposed to the RAF) — a week later, he and his crew were shot down and the plane was never found. They named their second son Norman after Grampy’s brother who was in the RAF and was gunned down over Germany.

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