Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 11 - Military

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 11 - Military

My grandfather, Dennis Sutcliffe, 1925 to 2009 - D-Day and East Africa - World War II

Dennis Sutcliffe in 1943
The closest relative to me who served in the military was my grandfather, Dennis Sutcliffe, who served during World War II as part of The Green Howards Regiment. He turned 18 years old in June 1943, so only saw the latter years of the war. Unfortunately, he only occasionally spoke of the time he spent serving in the army and even then it was only when he was questioned, but I sort of regret not questioning him more. 

His first major military event was the Normandy landings on the 6th June 1944. He was on one of the first boats to land in France which had sailed across the Channel. He was injured in the right shoulder, an injury which would cause him problems for the rest of his life. As a child, I was taken to visit the beach at which he landed but I can no longer remember which that was.

Dennis & Spider in Nairobi 1946

Dennis Sutcliffe in 1947

After convalescing, my grandfather was posted to East Africa with his friend "Spider", I have a photo of the 2 of them somewhere. His time in Africa was a more positive period and he often told us a story of being given a sheep's eye to eat as a local delicacy by the local tribes, whether he ate it or not I cannot quite remember.

My great grandfather, Harold Vernon Poole, 1894 to 1954 - World War I

Harold Vernon Poole Discharge Papers
I know even less about my great grandfather's military experiences. He was in the West Yorkshire Regiment and was a Private. He married in September 1918 just before the war ended and was demobbed a year later in August 1919.

He was away in France when he received the news that his dearest mother, Grace Ellen Poole had passed away on the 31st July 1917. To add to the challenges of coping with his mother passing away, his father remarried in April 1918. It must have been challenging for Harold to come home to losing his mother and a new-step-mother (who was a bit of a "tar-tar" according to my grandmother's cousin!), Harold had very little to do with his father after the war and my grandmother never knew her grandfather.

I think there was some link to Verona during the war, for his second daughter's middle name was Verona and she would tell the story that the name was some link to her father's military days. 

I seem to remember being told that he was gassed and had problems with his lungs for many years after the war, he became the caretaker of a small Methodist chapel, which provided a house for his himself and his wife as well.

My great, great, great, great grandfather, John Davidson, c1800-c1838

John Davidson was a musician or drummer in the Royal Marines and was based in Woolwich, Kent. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any army service records for him as yet, but would so love to learn more about his days in the Royal Marines. You can read much more about the story of John Davidson, his widow, Charlotte and the further generations at The Davidson Story - Chapter 1.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

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