They Shot Her - Excerpts From My Father's Memoirs. (1)

My father
By Jabo
@jaboUK (50131)
United Kingdom
August 10, 2016 5:04pm CST
My father hand-wrote his memoirs when he was dying of cancer, and as I was going through them the other day I wondered if any of you would find them interesting. Here's an excerpt about his experiences in World WarTwo. "In retrospect, I'm not very proud of volunteering for the Army as soon as war broke out. It left Ethel to cope with three small children on her own, and as things worked out I would probably not have had to go as I was in a reserved occupation. I was 21 years old. I spent 3 weeks training at Aldershot, and suddenly we were on a troop ship on the way to France - that's an easy date to remember as my youngest daughter Janet was being born as I was embarking. We were given a rifle on the way up the gangplank - our training had not included messing about with guns. I was stationed not far from LeHavre at a place called Bolbec, and for the first few months that I was there not much was happening on the fighting front. Everything was very tidy with the Germans behind the Seigfried Line, and our people all this side of the impregnable Maginot Line. Owing to possessing a smattering of schoolboy French, I was given an office job taking phone calls and relaying them to our Army Command - lord help us! I had plenty of free time and spent many happy hours exploring Normandy and mixing with real French people. There was a girl helping in a little cafe where I used to go, very smart, and had studied English in a British university. We became friends and she insisted on speaking only French to me, which did wonders for my communication skills. When eventually we were faced with lines of 'Pollys' (French Troops) streaming through in defeat, she was caught with a miniature camera in the guise of a brooch. They said she was photographing armoured vehicles as they came through. They simply shot her - I was so shocked. The gilt really slipped off the gingerbread in the next few weeks, the worst part being the hopeless lines of apathetic refugees. Then there were the villagers who cheered us as we headed towards the front line, then scowled at us as we headed the other way - we were lost of course." -------------------------------- Photo is of my father - I think it must have been early on in the war as he hasn't yet got any stripes on his arm. If any of you find this interesting I will post some more excerpts another time - his experiences in the war make fascinating reading - to me at any rate. .
63 people like this
59 responses
@jstory07 (57115)
• Roseburg, Oregon
10 Aug 16
The whole thing was very interesting to me anyway I hope it will be to others.
10 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@jstory07 Thank you Judy, I hope a few more feel the same way as you.
4 people like this
@MissNikki (2459)
• Canada
12 Aug 16
I enjoyed it! Would love to see more.
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
12 Aug 16
@MissNikki Thank you, I've already posted another one, may do even more sometime.
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (78926)
• United States
10 Aug 16
Oh yes, please post more. The history provided is so valuable. How sad your dad had to experience the loss of that young lady. Thank you for sharing that wonderful photo too!
8 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@Corbin5 Yes, Dad was still visibly upset when he talked about the girl. Even with what he went through afterwards in the war, this seemed to have shocked him more than anything. I've got loads more stuff I can put on here from his memoirs if this does well enough.
6 people like this
@norcal (3272)
• Nevada City, California
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK It is a rare window into their experience. Many won't share their experiences from that time.
6 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@norcal Yes, you are right - old soldiers have been reluctant to talk about it.
3 people like this
@Mike197602 (13501)
• Worcester, England
10 Aug 16
Do I find this interesting...yes. Do I think this is the right place to post this sort of quality...yes and no. It's beyond good, I'm so glad i get to read this stuff but there is, in my opinion, a book in this. I really think you should consider writing a book about your war experiences back home and incorporating your fathers memoirs. This content is too good to just earn a few cents for...honestly, do something more with it as you have the writing ability to do so. I'd buy your book
7 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@Mike197602 Thank you Mike, I really appreciate you saying all that, but I don't think I could be bothered with the hassle of doing a book. If my friends here like what I write, that is enough for me.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@Mike197602 I don't think it would class as a war crime - that was how they dealt with spies at that time. Did you find out anything about 'Pollys'? I meant to look it up myself, but didn't. I only came across it for the first time when reading the memoirs. I wondered if it was a spelling mistake, but I wrote it just how Dad did. Were there any more terms that you weren't familiar with?
1 person likes this
@Mike197602 (13501)
• Worcester, England
10 Aug 16
@jaboUK that's a shame
1 person likes this
@norcal (3272)
• Nevada City, California
10 Aug 16
Everyone who has experienced the horrors of war is forever changed by it. What a terrible thing for your dad to experience. I think my father in law always had survivor's guilt from having so many of his comrades die in WWII, while he came home in once piece.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@norcal My dad came home in one piece too - so many didn't.
2 people like this
@norcal (3272)
• Nevada City, California
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK I think he always wondered "why me?" Perhaps the other man was smarter, or handsomer, more well-liked.
2 people like this
@amadeo (46222)
• United States
10 Aug 16
for me I love this kind of story.How nice that you have this information on your dad.not too many have Not many have history of their dad or mother services.I did not keep one and wish that I did.It does make for good reading so nice for you to share this with us.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@amadeo I'm glad that you like this sort of thing Alfredo, we can learn quite a bit of how things were for the ordinary soldiers.
2 people like this
@xFiacre (10388)
• Ireland
10 Aug 16
@jabouk Your father writes well and it's a very shocking account he relates. Nice that you got a mention! Thise memories are worth making known - lest we forget.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@xFiacre I wasn't sure how this would be received here, but I'm pleased that you were interested. As you say - lest we forget.
3 people like this
@rebelann (31077)
• El Paso, Texas
10 Aug 16
What a nice looking man your dad was. I'm glad you had photos of him when he was still young. I can't imagine what seeing someone get shot must be like, I'm so glad I've never had to survive a war. It was interesting to read, I'll bet a lot of people would find what your dad wrote fascinating.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@rebelann I'm so glad that you found it interesting - as Mike says in his comment, this might not be the platform for this sort of thing. We'll see.
3 people like this
@rebelann (31077)
• El Paso, Texas
10 Aug 16
I saw that but I disagree @jaboUK I figure if people can write about their illnesses or relationship problems or furbaby problems then why shouldn't you share your dad's memoirs. It's interesting and also sheds light on a time most of us know so little about.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@rebelann I'm so glad that you see it that way, thanks.
2 people like this
@TRBRocks420 (60873)
• Banks, Oregon
10 Aug 16
Very sad your dad experienced this and, yes you should share more.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
10 Aug 16
@TRBRocks420 Those were terrible times, and I don't think we should forget about what the soldiers and other servicemen went through.
2 people like this
@TRBRocks420 (60873)
• Banks, Oregon
10 Aug 16
@jaboUK Yes, we should always remember them. I had a grandpa and, uncles in the wars, my great grandma also worked in the factory's during it.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Aug 16
i'd love to read more, ms. @jaboUK! i'd love't e'en more if'n ya published a book 'f such :D i can't imagine how he felt, bein' friends with her 'n knowin' her fate - with what i presume to be no facts to back't 'p. sadly, back then such occurred quite oft :( lovely pic 'f yer sweet dad, hon. sadly the step family's got all those 'f my dad. speakin' 'f which, i wish mine'd written his...
3 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@crazyhorseladycx It was terrible what happened to that girl - no such niceties as a trial. Sorry you haven't got any photos of your Dad.
2 people like this
• United States
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK back then most likely e'en a trial'd not gone'n her favor :( his sis sent me a couple, though i've none'f him'n uniform. i believe there's one when he 'twas 'bout 2? 'n then momma's got some from their weddin' day.
1 person likes this
@Platespinner (18090)
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Aug 16
I would love to read more, there is so much to learn from first hand personal accounts!
3 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@Platespinner A few of you have said you'd like to see more, so I expect I will do at least one more.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (118634)
• Switzerland
11 Aug 16
Of course this is interesting Janet. My father never wrote his memories, but he used to tell me the stories about the times he served during WWII. The story of the young girl made me so sad. I wonder how many innocent people were killed at those times, but at least it was war and not terrorism.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@LadyDuck I expect your father had some interesting stories to tell too. That was a terrible thing about the girl, but if she had a camera disguised as a brooch it does sound suspicious. She must have been brave though, if she was a spy.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@LadyDuck So sorry about your father, and that he didn't get the chance to write things down.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (118634)
• Switzerland
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK Life sometimes is not kind. He was such a good man and he had no time to enjoy his life.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (57300)
• United States
11 Aug 16
Wow! That was so interesting and gives a glimpse of what went on in the war. How sad that your dad had to experience the shooting of that young woman. He wrote that so well, too. I love reading these glimpses of history. I hope you share more.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@DianneN It's great to read things 'straight from the horse's mouth', as it were, isn't it? I will do some more, now that I know that there are enough people interested. Thanks.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (57300)
• United States
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK You're welcome! And to think that horse's mouth belonged to your father! . You know that this is my favorite period of history and I'm fascinated by it.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (51585)
• Pleasant Hill, California
11 Aug 16
@DianneN I'm fascinated by it as well.
@MALUSE (31745)
• Denmark
11 Aug 16
I'm sure that your father's account is interesting for the oldies and educational for the young ones. I'm surprised to read that your father had three children already at the age of 21.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@MALUSE My parents married when he was 18 and she was 19, and had children straight away - no birth control in those days! I hope you don't find things like this offensive Malu, seeing that we were on opposite sides.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (31745)
• Denmark
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK Oh, no, not at all. I don't suffer from excessive patriotism. Besides, what could you offend me with? Your father wouldn't have had to become a soldier if the Germans hadn't become crazy.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@MALUSE I knew you would understand Malu, thanks.
@responsiveme (14379)
• India
11 Aug 16
This is very interesting.I would like to read more. Why did they shoot the girl? Did they think she was a spy? I liked the bit about you being born.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@responsiveme Yes, they must have thought she was a spy - we'll never know if she was or not.
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
11 Aug 16
Why else would she have had that clandestine camera?
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@JamesHxstatic Exactly James. If she (or her bosses?) had gone to the trouble of disguising it as a brooch, it can't have been above board. Whatever the truth of it, she must have been brave.
@moffittjc (34739)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Aug 16
I would love to hear more stories from your father's writings. The experience of war we learn about in school textbooks is probably much different than the education we can get from reading firsthand accounts of people who were actually on the battle lines. It humanizes an inhumane act of man.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
12 Aug 16
@moffittjc You've put that very well - first hand accounts really flesh out things, don't they? I've just put a second excerpt up.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (34739)
• Gainesville, Florida
12 Aug 16
@jaboUK Awesome! I will check it out!
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
11 Aug 16
Fascinating and shocking too, with execution of that woman, but she must have been a spy with that camera. How could they send those men to war with no training with weapons? He was a good writer too, @jaboUK. I would love to read more.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@JamesHxstatic I'm glad you found it fascinating - in the next excerpt he talks about volunteering for weapon training. There was no formal training - isn't it amazing?
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
11 Aug 16
@jaboUK Truly it is!
1 person likes this
@RubyHawk (21451)
• Atlanta, Georgia
11 Aug 16
I find it very interesting, My dad fought in World war 11. He served in the Solomon Islands. He brought home stories about the natives of the Islands and the Japanese.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@RubyHawk Do you remember any of his stories? They would make interesting reading.
1 person likes this
@RubyHawk (21451)
• Atlanta, Georgia
12 Aug 16
@jaboUK He wouldn't talk a lot about it but I remember a few.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (35242)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
11 Aug 16
Wow. Can't imagine. Very talented writer, by the way.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@teamfreak16 Yes, Dad did write well, didn't he?
1 person likes this
@CinnamonGrl (5637)
• Paradise, California
10 Aug 16
I find it interesting. My father served in WW II as well, and he has never spoken about it, even to my mother. He had a few buddies he kept in touch with, but as far as war experiences went, he never talks about it. He is 97 and in a nursing home.
2 people like this
@paigea (21030)
• Canada
11 Aug 16
What a shock that must have been. I can only imagine what he went through. My father was only a few years younger. He lied about his age to join. My father did not share at all about his war service. I think he didn't see much service. I found it very interesting to read.
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
11 Aug 16
@paigea Thank you for finding it interesting, I've just posted a second excerpt. Your father was so keen to get in that he lied about his age? I've heard about boys (because that is all they were) doing that.
1 person likes this
@paigea (21030)
• Canada
12 Aug 16
@jaboUK Yes, but I don't remember what year it was. I don't know how old they were supposed to be. And I don't think he saw action or not much at least. Any was too much I am sure.
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (50131)
• United Kingdom
12 Aug 16
@paigea Over here I think they had to be 18, I should think that would be pretty general.