My grandfather was Harry Miller, born in 1912 at Tipton, Staffordshire. he moved with his parents and family to Cumbria where he joined up with The Kings Own Royal Border Regiment in 1932, along with his younger brother Fred (who lied about his age, joining up at 15).They served in India for about 5 years, Harry left in 1938 to start his family, Fred signed up for another 6 years.
When war was declared Harry was called up and first went to Gibralter, finishing the war as a gunner in the Defensively Equipped Merchant Navy. We believe he did two or thee artic convoys and are in the process of finding his service records.
By the time war was declared Fred was a sergeant and a gunnery insructor, training the new conscripts, moving from camp to camp. He went to France in September 1939, stationed at Douai, and from there went to Belgium. All the NCO's in charge of gun crews were given a map reference to head for in the event on Hitler breaking throught the Maginot line, two weeks later this is what happened and Fred ended up on the Beach at Dunkirk. He was on the beach for 10 days, the boat that took him off the beach was bombed in the channel, Fred was in the water for 20 minutes before being picked up by a small ship, rturning to Dover. From there he was taken to Penhale in Cornwall.
Fred volunteered to go back to France, the intention was to land in Boulogne but this proved impossible. They sailed instead to the Adraitic and landed in the Split (the former Yugoslavia). He stayed for three years, miking a 'nuisance of himself' with the help of local resistance. He left in 1943, picked up by a destroyer and taken to South Wales.
Here Fred taught master gunners course, then was posted to Milford Haven attached to the Royal Navy as a gunnery instructor. He went from Milford Haven to France in operation Overlord with Advanced HQ Squadren 7th Armoured Division, moving slowly up into France. Fred was involved in the liberation of Belsen, but will not discuss this, he just says "if I told you you wouldn't believe it".
He ended up in Berlin, after the surrender had taken place.He was posted near the Keele canal for a short while, then back to Berlin, and was discharged in 1949.
I never knew my grandfather, or knew that Fred even existed until I started doing my family history. I wrote to Fred after a relative said he was still alive, and he told me everything that is above. I am 25 and Fred is 89, but this makes no difference, I call him weekly to see how he is and what new things he has to tell me. We are meeting in May for the first time, I cant wait!
I also have three other great uncles who fought in WW2 in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Luckily, all of my family made it back home, too many did not. They should never, ever be forgotten. I am in awe of these great men who put their own lives first to ensure people like me and my children can live long, happy lives. With websites such as this one we are preserving the memories for the future and I think that is wonderful.