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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sepia Saturday - How Dad's War Ended

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories though photographs.

This week's prompt of women at a peace conference in 1918 had me struggling for a contribution.  I have already featured the only two photographs I have of women in groups and hats have provided me with many a post.

So I have taken a sentimental journey  back to  my father's account  of  his war time experiences, which I have featured before on my blog. Here is how peace came to him with the end of war in 1945.

Dad often talked about his war time  experiences and I am afraid it did provoke the reaction “Not the war again, Dad”. We also used to joke about him being in the Intelligence Branch.  It was only later that we came to realise what a life-defining period it was and  I persuaded him to write an account for me.

Dad always had an interest in journalism and it was a familiar sight to see him seated at the typewriter on his bureau, which had been a  wedding present from my mother.

 In later life,Dad was a regular contributor of  letters to local newspapers and prepared talks on a variety of topics  to present  to local societies.  He would have loved the world of blogging!


Dated on the reverse
Paris - Sept. 12th 1944
 "I was stopped by a Frenchman who said in English “RAF Sir? My name is Joseph Calmy. I was the Shell agent here before the war”. I offered him cigarettes and he then invited me to a building and gave me a bag full of Chanel perfume, toiletries, powder and cream – it lasted Mum for ages.  I  flew back with it when I got some leave in March ‘45.   

On another day, a man motioned me into a courtyard and into a large house where his  daughter,  who spoke very good English,  said “My papa wants you to stop and have dinner with us”. We ended up in a café and went through some rush curtains into a back room. In a few minutes a man and a woman came in carrying a bag, which they unloaded to reveal eggs, butter, meat, grapes and champagne. I had a meal of steak with a large bunch of grapes.   When we came to leave it was as if I was walking on air – I floated out of the café!

A letter home to my mother - Sept 1944 
By April 1945 Dad  was in Germany -  in Wiesbaden on VE Day. 

 "The GIs went wild, but we British took it all very quietly, with coffee and doughnuts from the Red Cross post – very very nice!”

Dad thought his war had ended in Germany, and was looking forward to heading home,  but to his shock he was posted to the Far East.
"I had a short break in Bombay before sailing on the "City of Asia" for home.  We eventually arrived at Liverpool on Christmas Day 1945  and went to a camp at Birkenhead.  Then I caught a train to Blackpool and arrived home by taxi at 2pm. 
One of the first things I did was to cradle you in my arms – you were shy – no wonder!"
Click HERE to find more peace offering from bloggers.
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Re


  1. You're absolutely right - he would have made a great blogger. His writing talents have been inherited by his daughter. A very enjoyable read.

  2. Thanks Sue for telling us your father's story with a happy ending. I love his comment on the difference in styles of celebration between the GIs and 'we British' :-)

  3. A very meaningful entry. Your Dad looked very jaunty in the hat with the brim turned up on one side. I know I should know what style that is? :))

  4. A beautiful story. A Dad to be proud of.

  5. What a wonderful and enjoyable post - despite the bleakness of the times. Wouldn't it have been great if the power of blogging had been available to generations before ours. As the first blogging generation, I do believe that we have a responsibility to record as much as we can for future blogging generations.

  6. I agree - your Dad would have been a fantastic blogger. It is terrific that he wrote down his memories.

  7. It must have been gratifying to be received as a hero in a foreign country, likely a feeling he would never experience again. Such a contrast to how American soldiers were treated at home when they returned from Vietnam.

  8. Is that you in his arms (last photo)? Wonderful post, Sue!

    1. Yes, Deb - I am the baby in the final photograph - the earliest photo I have of myself.

  9. My father never would write about any of experiences even after I gave him one of the books specially made for that purpose. In the last photo it looks like you were born about the same time that I was.

  10. Awww, that is such a sweet post.

  11. Great that you eventually persuaded your dad to write his story.

  12. Wonderful. Very enjoyable. How fortunate that your father would talk about the war. Many didn't.

    P.S. Your dad was a very handsome man.

  13. Thank you to everyone for such kind comments on what was a moving post to write and look back on.

  14. Gosh this was good! It seems the small things in life have the most meaning in times of strife. That finality of your father's emotion when he knew "My War had ended!" is a universal sentiment that I wish could be shared with millions today.

  15. I am late in catching up on everyone's posts as we were in Columbus OH.
    I just love reading the different approaches Sepians take to these challenges. Makes us all think!

    I just finished reading Sleeping With The enemy a story about Chanel's role as a spy during the war. It mentioned that she gave out bags of Chanel perfume to the troops so this part of your post really excited me!!

  16. My dad was at the Battle of the Bulge. He suffered from it most of the rest of his life. He wanted to talk about it but he had talked too much about it so we were all wanting him to stop. It was a rough go over there and I do sympathize with his struggle to make any sense of it.


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