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airship
23rd Mar 2014, 03:08
Yup. My dad would probably have made an effort to remain with us a little longer than he did (deceased 2007) if he'd known about and had access to a forum like this.

When I last lived in the UK back in 1989 and saw my parents regularly, at each visit he'd launch a tirade of commentaries about current affairs. Back in those days, I'd merely hum and hah. Preferring he'd talk about himself, the family etc. as opposed to stuff in the newspapers etc.

During my early years here in France, he would write to me at least once weekly. Including cuttings out of the Telegraph, Daily Mail (and the Sun - the only newspaper he'd shell out his own limited resources to buy, the others were from the newpapers the doctors' surgery subscribed to and where he was the care-taker). Asking what I thought about this and that.

When I finally bought my 1st PC in 1997, "got connected" and then my 2nd in 2003 and discovered JetBlast, I finally thought of dad. But the more I thought about it all (ie). buying them a PC, getting it connected, teaching them how to use it safely etc. mean't that I never got around to doing anything. :sad:

We never said how much we loved each other. But he'd have been a fine contributor here I believe: Born into a rich family of tea-planters in 1920; Instructor in "tough tactics" and part of the Indian Army "Intelligence" during WWII leaving with the rank of Major; marrying my mum (perhaps easier over there and then when the comments over a union between a white officer and a native were at most greeted with "dear chap", compared to the 1970s when my parents returned to the UK and in one instance, were refused the position as manager of an off-licence with a major chain "as the wife was of Asian origin"); managing various tea and rubber plantations in India and Malaysia (including having his own armoured scout-car with which to tour the estate during the "troubles"; before finally running his own hotel there which eventually failed, having taken premature retirement with the faith that the Chinese contractor would do well; having to resort to coming back to the UK where he lived out his remaining years as a care-taker (though never complaining verbally at his sort). So you see how he might have been able to contribute here?!

If you have older family who don't use computers, it's never too late...?!

probes
23rd Mar 2014, 06:21
any of his stories you remember and can share, maybe?

How come the real stories seem to have happened years ago, somehow? :cool:

Pinky the pilot
23rd Mar 2014, 06:32
any of his stories you remember and can share, maybe?

I'm with probes there!:ok:

airship; I wonder if 'they still make 'em' like your Dad?:confused:

Possibly they do, but these days I find them few and far between.:sad:
How come the real stories seem to have happened years ago, somehow?
Indeed they did.

I think I would have liked to have met your Dad, and shared a chat and a few drinks!:ok::hmm:

onetrack
23rd Mar 2014, 09:16
Having had contact with a wide range of people in many positions over a lengthy period of time, it never ceases to amaze me how many "ordinary" people can produce "extraordinary" stories of their life experiences.

There used to be a small local-community TV channel that ran a program whereby one of their TV journos would just stop people in the street to talk to them, or talk to them at bus stops.
The TV journo would probe these people for their life stories and interesting happenings in their lives - and the incredible stories of courage, trial-by-fire, escapes, financial disasters, devastating family losses, and a myriad of other mind-boggling events, would quite often be the outcome of the interviews.

The program left one feeling that despite one's own travails, we are generally pretty well off - and the worst of our perceived travails are quite often the equivalent to the smallest of many other peoples travails.

probes
23rd Mar 2014, 09:38
precisely.
But then we are supposed to read about the Kardashian's unfavorable leggings (though she does look real good) or Bieber's last idiocy or someone who's dedicated their life to being a living Barbie.

IF something besides just (sexy) looks were promoted, would people be different, I wonder.

vee-tail-1
23rd Mar 2014, 10:29
Dammit airship ... now you've got me all emotional! My Dad was a bit like that too.
Thanks for sharing :ok:

obgraham
23rd Mar 2014, 14:52
Being born in Blighty, I shared that national tendency to avoid all emotion in family relations. So it was always "yes, Dad, I'm fine, how are you", and "how's the weather where you are today".

It's now 20 years this next month since he passed on. I still regret not sitting down with him more and extracting his interesting life story before he died. He kept all that interesting experience too close, and I should have been more persistent.

Sit down with these old folks and get their perspectives -- they'll be gone before you know it!

brickhistory
23rd Mar 2014, 17:23
One of the unexpected rewards I found when I was writing aviation stories and books was the opening up of the memory vaults by those veterans who knew their time was ending soon.

For American, British, and Commonwealth aircrews, I was the first person, other than, perhaps, a comrade at a reunion, that they'd shared their stories with.

It was incredibly rewarding to seeing the family's reaction when they realized that "Granddad" or "Pops" wasn't always a white-haired, slightly stiff man but one who raised hell, got scared, and, not coincidentally, saved the Western world.

As to "all the good stories being from the past," I disagree. It's just that with today's instant social media substituting for history books and magazines, the timescale has shortened to what's popular in the last two weeks.

Not to mention the scale of such cataclysmic events is actually much smaller today than the 10s of millions of servicemen mobilized for WWII. Smaller gene pool of stories if you will.

I asked one RCAF Beaufighter pilot who had won a DFC over Burma at age 20 made him different than today's 20 year olds.

He replied "Nothing. You do what you have to do."

I hope he is right.

BenThere
23rd Mar 2014, 21:09
Maybe in today's world the technology eliminates the 'seat of the pants', 'balls to the wall' episodes from our fathers' conflicts. And tames the stories as well.

Nice to learn more about you, airship. Tip o' the hat to your father.

Limeygal
23rd Mar 2014, 21:58
it never ceases to amaze me how many "ordinary" people can produce "extraordinary" stories of their life experiences

Everybody has a story to tell. Good yarns can come from the most unexpected places. Never assume that a seemingly quiet person leading a humdrum life is boring. :ok:

angels
23rd Mar 2014, 22:12
airship - I always remember when a mate of mines dad died. He was a sniper in the desert and run from pillar to post by Rommel but finally mde it up the spine of Italy. When he died and I mentioned it at the funeral my mate was gobsmacked. He knew his dad was in the Army and that was that.

For some reason his dad had shared all his adventures/kills, being wounded etc with me, not his son.

I made sure the same would not happen with my dad and bullied him for some years into writing his memoirs. He did.

The war and pre-demob years start here http://www.pprune.org/military-aircrew/329990-gaining-r-f-pilots-brevet-ww11-66.html

If you want astonishing bravery, start at Post 1 of the entire thread. It's history.

papershuffler
23rd Mar 2014, 22:37
On a rugby forum I frequent, an elderly Welsh exile (now in the US) often drops in little memory excerpts, most of them fascinating.

Recently, Farnborough Air Disaster:

I was at that one, my father took me with a group from Teddington Aircraft Controls, Cefn Coed. The DH 110 came in towards the spectators on the hill, where we were standing. John Derry was flying it. All very routine, but suddenly it seemed that one plane became two. It took a few seconds to realise what had happened, and I was way behind my father's reaction---he pushed me flat behind a van.
Oh, and it's simplistic to say that "the mess was cleaned up and the show continued." First, you couldn't get out of Farnborough for several hours after the crash because all the roads in were jammed with ambulances and emergency vehicles, and the police "froze" all private traffic. The organisers had a choice between carrying on with something, or leave thousands of spectators trying to "fight their way clear" of Farnborough against the incoming and exiting emergency vehicles.
And that was the last year that aircraft were allowed to fly over the spectators. I went again two years later and the aircraft were flying right-to-left, parallel to that hill.

I don't think there had been an accident of that magnitude at an air display previously. The DH 110 was flown again at the Farnborough show I went to again two years later, and there was a distinct murmur from the spectators as it was announced. As far as I remember it went on to be a succesfull Fleet Air Arm plane, flying off carriers.

Odd thing is that I nearly missed the start of the flying programme. On the walk in from where our group's bus was parked we passed a "scrapyard" where bits of discarded aircraft were dumped. There was most of the fusilage of a Lancaster or a Lincoln, no wings, no undercarriage, and you could walk up and into it. I had several copies of "Flight" and "Aeroplane" dating from WWII, and one of them carried an account of the Dam Buster Raid, or at least as much information as was released at the time. Bottom line was that my father had to drag his 13-year old out of the wreck, where he was playing Guy Gibson VC, and onwards to the actual display.http://forum.gwladrugby.com/images/smilies/redface.gif

You must be the same age as my dad who spent his early teens crawling through the fuselages of shot-up & soon to be repatriated B17s and B24s in RAF Valley in Anglesey around 1946. I spent the summer holidays once doing a similar thing when I came across a dumped Vulcan.
July 1939.http://forum.gwladrugby.com/images/smilies/redface.gifhttp://forum.gwladrugby.com/images/smilies/redface.gif I can remember as a five-year old holding my mother's hand in Lewisham High Street and watching a V I going phut-phut-phut overhead. Happily for me I didn't know the significance, but as long as it was still powered when it passed over you were safe.
Pity the B17s and B24s weren't preserved. They are in extremely short supply now, even out here, where for about $300 you can still buy a 20 minute ride in a B17 at some air shows.
And sadly, one of my most vivid memories is of visiting my [London] grandmother right after the war and always insisting on sitting on the top deck of the double-deckers. We used to pass a couple of scrap yards, and I can remember seeing single engined aircraft piled one on top of the other, waiting to be scrapped. Lord knows how many Hurricanes and early mark Spitfires went that route. And we don't have a single Stirling left anywhere, they were all scrapped.http://forum.gwladrugby.com/images/smilies/frown.gif

Wow. Were you aware that there were so many fatalities there at the time?
Amazing.
I didn't realise the actual extent of it, and I doubt that many people there did either. You knew that it was major, and very bad obviously, but at "ground level" all you saw were some bodies and some badly injured people. It was all a bit chaotic, with people trying to help, people trying to get away, and ambulance men trying to get to the scene. We were a little away from the major impact site, and I remember my father saying later that it was "bits of engine" landed near to us. It wasn't until we read the next day's papers that we got a comprehensive idea of it all.
I don't know what Farnborough is like now, but from what I remember, back then public transport to the show only had one or two access routes, and those were blocked-off for hours for emergency vehicles. We always reckoned that the chief motivation for continuing the flying display was to encourage 50,000 or so people not to head for their cars and add to the congestion.

The Russkies wandered round Rolls with putty in the treads of their shoes trying to work out material composition of the Nene,then the stupid wangers gave 25 to the Reds as a good will gesture.
That was Stafford Cripps. He supplied them with the Nene AND the Derwent.
They popped-up later in the Mig 15 and Mig 17. Plus swept wing technology courtesy of those Nazis who didn't make it to the West.http://forum.gwladrugby.com/images/smilies/redface.gif]
There are two versions of the "metal swarf in Soviet shoes" story. One is as you said---they picked-up machining swarf particles in their shoes, the other is by Ronald Harker, [who joined R-R as an apprentice in 1925], and worked on all of the early engines. He reckoned that R-R wouldn't let them in the factory, because they knew very well that the Soviets wanted the metallurgy of the high-temp alloys used for the engine blades. Then Cripps saved Russia a few years of metallurgical R&D in the interest of maintaining "good relations."
Perfect example of what can happen when you let F-----g politicians near anything technical.http://forum.gwladrugby.com/images/smilies/mad.gif

MagnusP
24th Mar 2014, 08:21
Great thread, airship, thanks. My father (passed 2003) was RAF and served in India and Burma in WW2, but he would only ever relate the funny stories of his service, not the "serious" bits. He signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers when demobbed, but didn't follow it through because his mum said he had a better future in Engineering. :rolleyes: I wear his signet ring to this day.

Capetonian
24th Mar 2014, 08:37
My father, who also died in 2003, was in the Royal Engineers, served in Burma and India, and rarely spoke about it, other than, like Magnus' father, the funny bits. He was an electrical engineer and in civilian life he travelled a lot as his company had contracts all over the world, a lot in West Africa and India. He hated football, in fact, all sport, something which I inherited, but his passion was military history.

Somehow I can't imagine him contributing to something like this, as he was a very private and modest man, somewhat unemotional as people of his generation tended to be. I too regret not having taken the time to know him better.

One of the silly little things I remember about him was his nightly ritual, after dinner, of having a sip of the coffee my mother had made, grimacing, and pouring it out of the window when her back was turned. He was always pleased when I cooked as my mother hated cooking and her skills in that area were somewhat lacking.

Pinky the pilot
24th Mar 2014, 11:14
July 1939. I can remember as a five-year old holding my mother's hand in Lewisham High Street and watching a V I going phut-phut-phut overhead

July 1939??:confused: