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Old 01-24-2008, 07:34 AM   #11
Spentcartridge
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Originally posted by bideau* on 01-24-2008 at 07:27 AM
Great stories by everyone Family histories are precious and should be preserved.

My maternal grandfather fought for the Canadian army in WWI when he was 15.

He lived in a small New Brunswick village (can't recall the name) with no prospects for much of a future. His mother brought him to the local priest asking for advice (this was 1915). The priest told him to enlist in the army since he'd be able to go overseas and "see the world". Since he was underage, the priest took him to the enlistment office and swore to the recruiter that he was 17. I actually have his enlistment papers that have his birth year as 1898 instead of 1900 and also has the priest's signature vouching the information. I also have his discharge papers.

Within months, he was shipped out to France and found himself in the trenches. We don't know any specifics after that. The only thing we know is that most others were also teenagers. To lessen their fear, the commanders would pass around the alcohol before they jumped out of the trenches. That was the beginning of life long drinking problems.

When the war was over, he was discharged and moved to the States. He met my grandmother (who had come down from Nova Scotia), married and they tried to start a family. For various reasons, my mother was the only child of nine that survived past 2 years old (she was #8).

All the trauma of this and PTSD from the war resulted in my grandfather having extreme alcohol problems. He became known as the drunk of the Canadian section of town. He became homeless after my grandmother left him in the 50's (she lived with us for most of the remainder of her life). He was regurlarly taken into protective custody. Nearly died several times. He eventually dried up in his later years after he had a massive heart attack in my kitchen (kind of traumatic for me since I witnessed it at 8 years old). He lived to be 80 years old. Even though my grandmother never went back to him (they never divorced), she would visit him on a regular basis in the rest home.

One of my most prized possessions is an original photograph of my grandfather, at 15, in his dress uniform. At that age, I was virtually an identical twin to him. It's creepy and kewl at the same time.

Now, if you ask my kids this same question, they'll have excellent stories of my dad (a Marine medic at Okinawa) and my father-in-law (a Finnish ski trooper during the Soviet-Finland Winter War).
Wow! Warriors galore.

Only knew one Grandfather. Railroad man...along with his three sons. Generational thang. My Dad told me I would never work for the RR.

I don't.
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