Friday, 15 October 2010

Truck Drivin' Man - Part The First

On the other hand, my paternal grandfather I know very well (having celebrated his 87th birthday last week). He may just have the man one name - he is, was and ever shall be the man they call Reg - but he still has a surprise or two in him. He alternates between cheeky wisecracking chappy with a twinkle in his eye and stereotypical grumpy old curmudgeon who doesn't know why you bother buying him a present, especially as he'll probably be dead by Christmas (a claim he's made most years for at least the last seven years).

Grandad grew up in a busy household, being the youngest of eleven (hmmm, or was it ten? I must admit, I always lose track). Unlike my maternal grandfather, he did join the army and go off to fight in the war at the age of about 19 or 20. He never really used to talk about his time in the war at all up until a few years ago - I think he saw some pretty horrendous things out there (as did a lot of people) and he naturally never talks about those things. Partly, though, the reason he doesn't tend to talk about it is that he feels ashamed about his contribution to the war effort - he feels that he didn't do his bit when he was needed. Of course, this was due to circumstances completely his control...

Grandad was part of a gun crew out in Egypt and was readying for an offensive. One day, he started to feel a bit on the peaky side, a bit under the weather... the next thing he knew, he was waking up in hospital. In turns that he'd caught diphtheria pretty badly - fortunately for Reg, they'd caught it in time. In order to recover, he was shipped back home and, once he was fighting fit again, sent back out into the fray. He was told to go back and join up with his unit but could see no sign of them. Eventually, he managed to find someone who knew their whereabouts only to receive the worst news possible - the whole crew had been killed in the action he'd missed out on while he was in hospital. While I for one am glad that he didn't get killed in that offensive (as I wouldn't be typing this now), Grandad has, I think, never really fully come to terms with that survivors guilt.

To Be Continued

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