My Who Do You Think You Are? moment

Sep. 17th, 2017 04:25 pm
sparrowsion: (home page portrait)
[personal profile] sparrowsion
Or, Who The F*** Are You? as we call it. Specifically, Lisa Hammond and "why her paternal grandfather Harry Hammond never spoke about his experiences in World War II". Well, my paternal grandfather never spoke about his experiences in World War II either, but at least we knew he'd been taken POW in Italy and was ultimately liberated by the Americans, so I was curious to hear this story.

Turns Hammond too had been taken prisoner in Italy, and almost certainly was suffering from PTSD as a result of his experiences in the POW & labour camps. And the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (which [personal profile] 1ngi takes for her genealogical research) had some hints for chasing up similar stories.

So, well, I had to do that. And this is what I learned.

My grandfather was with the 2nd Battalion of the North Staffs during the Battle of Anzio. Anzio, if you've not heard of it before, was probably the biggest Allied cock-up of the war. From the small, personal perspective, the 2nd North Staffs were at the forefront and lost 323 men capturing a ridge which they were unable to hold because their ammunition supply was exhausted.

"Unable to hold" means many were taken prisoner. I don't know how many, but I'm guessing from the list which includes my grandfather's name that it was at least 50. That would be about half the battalion taken out in one day.

I don't know what happened to my grandfather in the immediate aftermath—that's going to take a lot more digging to try and find records. But I do know that he wound up in Altengrabow along with 60,000 other POWs. And that leads to the one piece of information I'd had passed down which is missing from these accounts: at the end, the Commandandt, having arranged for the Americans to evacuate the camp, took his own men and departed the scene.

I'm sure my grandfather was traumatised by his experiences in the camps, just as Harry Hammond was. But more traumatic, I feel, would have been that day on the Italian coast when so many of his comrades fell.

(no subject)

Sep. 17th, 2017 03:26 pm
tinyjo: (tiny kitn)
[personal profile] tinyjo
Have been full of cold for most of this week but just about managed to get through it, thank goodness! I think my class are starting to get used to me and my expectations, which is good, but they've got a long way to go before SATS, particularly in calculation! I had a lovely, lazy day yesterday, sitting on the sofa with kittens, doing very little work, but it does mean I've left myself quite a few weekend tasks to do today - I need to think about rebalancing my workload a little bit to manage this 5 day week thing a bit more effectively. This weekend, I've been mostly conserving energy in the evenings due to the cold, but I am going to have to try to plan a bit more housework in during the week now that I don't have Friday to catch up with. I suppose in theory, there's the alternative of getting someone in to do some cleaning but I'll wait and see how the new salary settles in before going for anything quite so decadent :)

(no subject)

Sep. 10th, 2017 04:08 pm
tinyjo: (Queen of Cups)
[personal profile] tinyjo
Well, the first week is done and I'm really pleased with how it went. The kids seems lovely - a little boisterous but very engaged with their learning. I'd forgotten how much they learn in a year though - they seem very young to me right now! All the staff were really welcoming, which was lovely and I feel like it's going to be a really positive working environment. I've got two TAs to work with (one 4 days a week and a different one on Fridays) and *they* both seem nice, so all in all, I feel like it's been a pretty good start. I was very knackered by Friday - I'd forgotten what working full weeks was like - but hopefully that won't last. I also picked up a mini-cold but that seems to have mostly gone already, fortunately. Slightly annoyingly, I realised that I needed to re-plan English for the week coming up because half the class had already studied the book I chose, but it didn't take much work, so not the end of the world. Next week is baseline assessment tests, which should be interesting!

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