Wednesday, November 11, 2015

40 Years Ago Today....

      40 years ago today my father was laid to rest. My father served in the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Europe during WW2. The 67th landed D+6 and won 5 battle stars. The 67th was stationed in Malmady at the start of the Battle of the Bulge, fortunately it was not overrun. The 67th ended the war in Czechoslovakia. I can't tell many stories of my fathers service, as he spoke little about it. When he did it was of the horrors of war. It took me a long time to get what he was trying to tell me.
My father, First Sergeant John T. Patriquin (on right), with  Pvt. Clyde Snyder. While doing some online research on the 67th Evac. Hospital, I read how Pvt. Snyder was one of 50 men who volunteered to stay behind with the hospital supplies when the 67th retreated from Malmady.


  1. Two lovely posts, the Brittains figures really are wonderful, everything a toy soldier should be.Y our post about your father was warm and a reminder of the context of what we do with toy soldiers. I am working with older people at the moment many in their nineties. The blokes are as you described your father, reticent about talking, one chap was a teenager in western Poland in 1939, lost his village and family, fought with the Polish army, escaped after surrender and went through North Africa and Italy, including Monte Cassino, eventually settling in England. A real gentleman, 94 years old and never spoken to his wife about his experiences. He loves watching dancing and when I asked him if he danced when he was younger he said " No, I was too old after the war". The women I see are much more forthcoming, many working in the Fairey and Avro factories around stockport and South Manchester, operating cranes, riveting and driving sub assemblies of Lancasters from Manchester to Woodford - just a stones throw from here, They remember every thing, every detail of their experiences, the good and the bad. Walking home through air raids, their losses, and the laughter. Hearing the stories is a privilege and a reminder of how we and in particular perhaps younger people either don't know or understand or have forgotten how all that we have and hold dear was fought for by our grandparents or parents. We take it foe granted. I was with the Polish gentleman on armistice day and his eyes welled up watching the ceremony at the cenotaph, especially when nimrod was playing. Wonderful photograph, so young.

  2. In September a co-worker I had worked with for 16 years died from cancer. Jack was also a career Marine (22 years). The last year I changed my job where I worked daily with Jack. Knowing I was a history buff we had lots of talks about the military. Jack was an Embassy guard in Moscow during the "Cold War", served during the first Gulf War, was in Haiti and Somali. He told me some stories from his time in service; he was never the "hero" of the story. I kick myself now for never asking more about his time in. It made me think of all those who served and their little piece of changing history. I now wished my father wrote down his view of the war, the good, bad, and ugly. I think anyone who served, or for that matter, I think every parent should write what they know of their family and their own history so they can answer those unanswered questions that always come up after they are gone.

  3. My father was in the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) during the war. Trained as an electrician on carrier Dive-Bombers. Blackburn Skua's initially, then Fairey Barracuda's. However, he was one of the lucky ones. Once he had finished his training, the RAF were short of ground crew for the bomber offensive, so he and a large number of other FAA crew were seconded to the RAF and he spent the entire war at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, looking after Short Sterling Bombers/Glider tows. Given that, he was happy to talk about experiences - though many he know were not, including at least one glider pilot he knew who flew into Arnhem (My Dad's squadron was the one that did the first supply drops into the Oosterbek perimeter at Arnhem).
    Even then, Dad didn't tell me everything, as it was only after he died in 2000 that I found out that he had volunteered to join early, to make sure he went into the Navy.
    Ironically, shortly after Dad had died, I met a friend's father (sadly also now passed) who was in the Royal Artillery as an observer all through the war in the desert and then in Normandy. It seems that his battery was one of those supporting the paratroops as they escaped from Oosterbek back across the Rhine - and he was in the last Bren carrier that left the area when we retreeated after the battle.
    Sadly so many stories, good and bad, are now lost with the passing of that generation.

  4. While my father was alive, he received a print in the mail. It was an old print of a town in Czechoslovakia that was the town the 67th set up the hospital for the last time. I was sent by another member of the 67th some 30 years after the war. Once again, now I wonder if there was letter that came with it. Sorry for the long letter I sent you Ian; I meant to post it here but I wrote it before I had my morning coffee and wasn't fully awake!