My parents used to take me on regular trips to see my Grandparents who lived in the sea-side resort of Cleethorpes on the East coast of England. We all originated from that general area, but we had moved away due to my fathers' work.
All I clearly remember about the visits were the seemingly endless journey (about 130 miles each way) and the big house my Grandparents lived in. I remember the house had three floors and the kitchen had a set of clothes drier rails that were on a pulley arrangement, but there my memory fails me.
At some point, for a reason I never knew, my Grandparents came to live with us. I have clearer memories of them from that period - after all - I saw them every day instead of just on our regular visits. Grandmother always seemed to be miserable or grumbling, Grandfather, however, was cheerful and friendly. I remember him trying to engage my interest in religious stories by drawing pictures to illustrate particular Biblical events. His artistic flair had remained with him, his drawings were clear and colourful.
After living with us for about six years my Grandparents decided to return to Cleethorpes. My Grandmother became ill and cursed the day they moved away from their home. Their money had been spent so they returned to live in a much smaller terraced property where my Grandfather devoted his time to caring for his wife. She became bed-ridden and the effort became too much for him, despite regular but admittedly brief visits from a Home Help nurse. Grandmother, like so many other previously proud people of her generation, spent her remaining time in a nursing home. Her condition deteriorated considerably until eventually she was unable to recognise who we were. It was there that she died.
Grandfather too eventually spent a short time in hospital, in March 1979, before quietly slipping away just minutes after we had left his bedside.
Few attended his funeral, few knew of his heroic actions and the horrors he had witnessed. He died alone having made and lost many of his friends during the war.
I did not know he had been a soldier, I did not know anything about war. That is why reading his story was such a revelation to me. Now that I am old enough to understand and appreciate it I feel proud that he made a recognised contribution in the war. At the same time I realise how cruel and unpleasant the war really was, unlike the glorified celluloid recreations. They sent mere boys to fight a tragic war, one million British men never returned home.
My Grandfathers' story vividly describes some events that no-one should ever be exposed to, let alone a teenage boy.
My Grandfather, Harry Williams.
Actor, Arthur Lowe.
The mythical south-coast resort of Walmington-on-Sea is home to a group of Local Defence Volunteers (LDV's) men who were either too old, too young, or medically unfit to join the armed services during WWII. LDV's were a genuine part of life in wartime Britain, although in reality their role was limited. By day Captain Mainwaring was manager of the local bank, but in his spare time he was in charge of the ramshackle bunch of LDV's. The relationship between such a diverse group of people and their incompetent attempts at training and protecting the locals was the source of the comedy.
There are a number of websites dedicated to "Dad's Army" including:
from BBC Online archive.