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"The Stories that are out there..." Topic

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297 hits since 8 Aug 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Silurian09 Aug 2018 6:46 p.m. PST

Just want to relate an experience I just had this evening to you guys who I know will appreciate it.

My kids learn the piano and periodically their teacher takes them and her other students around to various places to preform.
This evening we went to a residential home about a mile from home. After the performance the kids were chatting to the residents, and my son got talking to a spritely older gentleman of perhaps upper nineties in age. After introducing himself he mentioned how he played piano in England during the war.
It didn't take much to get him talking about his service as a radio operator in B-17s. Based just outside of Bedford, he flew a total of 33 missions, and his bomber never got a single scratch.
"I came home with nothing, not even a purple heart," he joked.

It was wonderful to chat with this intelligent and witty veteran who was only too happy to share his stories (he took himself off to Peru after the war to translate Bibles).

Chance encounters, and the stories that come to light … fascinating, funny, heroic and sad all rolled into one.

Sundance10 Aug 2018 8:23 a.m. PST

I've been fortunate to meet a lot of characters like that along the way. It's always a treat to hear their stories.

Mike Target12 Aug 2018 3:02 a.m. PST

Theres an old friend of my wifes family we used to meet up for drinks with occasionally, who was a radio operator in a British armoured regt. I forget which one, but he was in a firefly for most of his trip across Europe, switching to a DD sherman to cross the Rhine.

Perhaps surprisingly almost none of his tales have anything to do with actual combat, and more to do with what you might call "after action shenanigans", which mostly comprised attempts to "acquire" alcoholic beverages and "souvenirs" from the Germans.

We made quite a good pair- he had the first hand experience of the war I lacked but little idea of how it fitted into the broader picture of the war as a whole which I was able to help him with. For example he'd seen the capture of a bunch of Goliaths (the Germans tracked mine) but had no idea what they were, and been puzzled by them for years. At the time he was just told it was "top secret" , I could help him put a name to them.

We've had some fun times in the pub, him telling his war stories, and me providing the footnotes!

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