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Jet Jetski

Legendary People In Your Family

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Every family has its heroes and villains, and my hero was a villain, joined the Royal Navy at 14 - occupation noted as 'errand boy' - brutalised through two wars and surviving several sinkings ('Lucky Bill' lol), scored a fortune in compensation after being knocked off his bike just before WW2 - enough to buy a house - spent it all instead in the Jolly Sailor as there was no point buying a house, if it was going to get blown up in the war (ironically his home did get all but destroyed when the ammunition barge blew up under the cliff at Newhaven) and he was a bare knuckle fighter any time he was not wanted by His Majesty's Naval Forces or the merchant marine.  But, what makes him a legend, is his response after he was asked whether he would like to see a priest, towards the end of his brief and fatal battle with pneumonia on a geriatric ward.  Notwithstanding the fact that it was possibly his last, he still thought it might yet be his lucky day, and he asked if he could see the bookmaker instead. 

He was not liked much by the family (except by us grandkids who did not know better) - imagine a human Tirpitz, but more aggressive, and less sinkable - but his colours were never struck, and that is why he was a legend, even to his kids that went to Australia to get away from him lol.

He reminds me of the saying about sailors of old - ships of oak and men of iron - he was told he would never walk again without a stick after his accident, but to his dying day he never used one, though he could not have stopped a pig in a ginnel, and he was quickly judged fit enough for the arctic convoys.

His kids went on to own their own businesses, be professionals and entrepreneurs; his grand-children to be accountants and architects and his great grand-children vets and doctors and jet-setting cyber-security geeks, but when it comes to Hey-Lads-Hey we all channel Sailor Bill.

Who is the legend in your family, and why?

@Davey P yes, we know it's you, but you cannot nominate yourself! :laughing2dw:

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Jet Jetski said:

Who is the legend in your family, and why?

@Davey P yes, we know it's you, but you cannot nominate yourself! :laughing2dw:

Bugger, you beat me to it! :tongue:

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My grandad Tom, he was a sailor in WW2 never spoke about it but there was enough left behind after his departure to figure out he was no ordinary guy, survived three sinkings all of which during the Atlantic convoys.

Oddly enough before I knew any of this I decided to join the RN and ended up a bit like Bill as described in the OP, not so much a hero just a total bugger-up-the-back who walked(ish) away from everything.

Odd thing is, me and grandad Tom both ended up as single parent dads.

Edited by Biker
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My Grandad big Bill, he also went through both world wars in the army, (Gordon Highlanders) he never once spoke about it. Despite being wounded twice in WW1, he still signed up for WW2 and was at El Alamein. 
He was the quietest big giant of a man at 6’3” but always loved being surrounded by his grandchildren, he was forever making stuff in his shed for us to play with, Prams for the girls and “bogeys” (carts) for the boys. He was never keen for his kids signing up, but was secretly so proud of my dad and his brother (my uncle Jimmy) who both did. Unfortunately he died when I was only 7 so he never saw me or my son pass out, but I’m sure he would have been there if he could.

A great man, and along with my dad my hero! 

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Uncle in the Special Operation Executive. Saw service in Sicily, and eastern Europe.

http://www.ampltd.co.uk/collections_az/soe-1-5/description.aspx

Larger than life character, and went to, and settled in Canada after the war. Never spoke much about his exploits. He operated as part of a three man crew involved in sabotage behind enemy lines. Like my father in law, after they came home, they threw everything away that reminded of the war. 

Edited by WRENCH
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I'd nominate my Grandfather George, he was a lecturer at Hatfield Polytechnic, later Bridgewater and during the war designed assault gliders, he had a love of sailing and in his life owned 9 boats, many of which he designed and built himself, the most memorable being a Wharram catamaran that he attempted to sail around the world before calling it off after a big storm near the Azores. He is an inspiration to me personally just because he never gave up, he spent time in a broken marriage for his kids. After his divorce he basically started from scratch and went on to run a successful guest house and fishing tours in Devon. In his twilight years with failing eyesight (he was technically blind) he wrote and published his memoirs, took up 00 gauge model railway building and toured the Italian lakes with my mother, at the ripe age of 92 he was visiting the Greek islands with my Aunt, fell and broke his hip and passed away from complications. Not a glamorous life for sure but to me a testament of bloody mindedness and resilience that sticks with me more each day as I age.

 

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On 15/05/2020 at 20:11, Jet Jetski said:

Every family has its heroes and villains

My cousin Alan was jailed for armed robbery - Does that count? :whistle:

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3 minutes ago, Davey P said:

My cousin Alan was jailed for armed robbery - Does that count? :whistle:

Not unless he was stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

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3 minutes ago, Jet Jetski said:

Not unless he was stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

In his defence, he was only the getaway driver, and didn't have a shooter (as far as I know) :laugh:

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Here's a picture of wife's grandfather (right) and his brother (left) and three friends, taken in 1911 with the aeroplane they were building in Rathen, just South of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire. It must have been bizarre to see this in an area where a car would have been a rarity.

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Thanks for all those fascinating stories.:thumbsup:

Just to say, Jet @Jet Jetski, I have lived in Newhaven for many years and it was nice to hear a mention of what is now my home town, and a surprise to hear a mention of that incredible explosion during WW2 that ripped through the town - I have always known about it but it seems to have disappeared as a collective memory as the generations of Newhaven residents come and go.:)

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1 hour ago, Always"watching" said:

Thanks for all those fascinating stories.:thumbsup:

Just to say, Jet @Jet Jetski, I have lived in Newhaven for many years and it was nice to hear a mention of what is now my home town, and a surprise to hear a mention of that incredible explosion during WW2 that ripped through the town - I have always known about it but it seems to have disappeared as a collective memory as the generations of Newhaven residents come and go.:)

Thanks, my Casio has a tide calculator / graph that I set to Newhaven tide times, to maintain a spiritual link, and I will be seeing my Aunt in Seaford hopefully this weekend on my long day out.  Wheels up at 4.30 am ....

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