Our elders are full of wisdom and fascinating tales. Too often in life we tend to ignore what we could learn from our family trees. There is so much to know and learn, not just about our grandparents but also about the world and the era of WWII.

Redditor u/Skinflint_ wanted to discuss legacy and the family tree by asking.... What stories about WW2 did your grandparents tell you and/or what did you find out about their lives during that period?


Riches to Rags....

Giphy

My grandfather was pretty rich from real estate in the coastal province of Zhejiang in China until the Japanese invaded. He and his family relocated to the inland wartime capital and worked as a telegraph operator for the war.

The Japanese took everything from everyone back then, and nothing was the same afterwards. Coupled with a civil war right after and things were pretty crappy. whohat

Life in New Guinea....

My grandfather was an American in Papua New Guinea. He never really talked about except for one night that I remember. He painted a coconut, with the husk still on, and mailed it home to his wife. She kept it all her life. Grandpa said he was a machine gunner and his job was to shoot the Japanese out of the trees.

He did bring home a Japanese flag his whole platoon (or unit or what not) had signed. They had fought the Japanese out of a town and took the flag they left behind. Grandpa said he had a pet parrot would ride on his shoulder and stay on his tent ridge. He said at mess time it would hop on the table and walk up and down the table eating food off of people's plates.

It was mean to other people, but it liked grandpa. All in all, I think he saw and did things he would rather not remember. Like I said, he never wanted to talk about it. RegionalChaos

Clean Up Crew....

My grand uncle was part of a "clean up crew" in Japan after the battle of Leyte. So after all the fighting was done, they'd send his unit in to clear out the bodies of the fallen Japanese. He said that they would loot their bodies (take "treasures" like knives, swords) and then put their bodies on a giant landing craft (the kind that open up on a beach), and take them out to sea. He says he'll never forget watching the sharks circle the dead. Haunts him to this day.

Edit: this was in Philippines, not japan. But it was a battle against the Japanese. tellmetheworld

In the River....

He never said much but he did talk once about throwing explosives of some kind in a river to catch fish. He was in the south Pacific as a Marine.

I just remembered another one, he did not smoke so he traded his cigarettes till he had enough for a typewriter so he could type his letters to his wife and my mom his daughter who was born after he went to war. Peelboy

The Pestilence.

Giphy

My grandpa very rarely talked about it, but he was in the Pacific in WW2. He caught malaria and was sent to a hospital ship to recover, and the Japanese sunk the ship. So he floated for like 10 hours clinging to the wreckage, with active malaria, before finally being rescued. And after all that, he re-enlisted and fought in the Korean War also. FearlessLingonberry

Radar! 

My grandfather joined up in 1943 when he turned 18 years old.

He was stationed on a Pacific island where he basically became a Radar O'Reilly. His family were Mennonites, so he was a conscientious objector.

He was a medic, clerical worker, cook, ditch digger, driver, and anything else that he was asked. Most of his time was spent cleaning up after everyone else and watching for air raids by the Japanese Air Force. knightni73

It's like The Notebook...

Something sweet:

My grandparents saved all their love-letters sent back and forth during that time.

They had just met and had fallen in love before his departure. So they carried on their romance and developed the relationship through beautifully written letters.

Those letters expressed every emotion - from the realities and horrors of war to the abiding hope they'd be reunited safe & sound. They were married not long after grandfather's return. Back2Bach

You're a good Egg....

My grandfather befriended a German family during the war. They would cook him meals and the mother would wash his clothes. One day hey loaded up a box with eggs and used toilet paper to make sure they didn't break. The next day there was a note in his laundry thanking him for the eggs, but an even bigger thank you for the toilet paper. They hadn't had any in years. ChoochMMM

Being in Service....

My grandfather would talk about the training, time with his unit while being transported, but mostly about a little kid he was helping feed in China after Japan surrendering.

He would just think aloud about what happened to him and if he was alright.

He never talked about combat. I did walk into his house once and the history channel was on showing a USMC graveyard on Okinawa and he was crying. Mfees

Basic Training Hurts....

Giphy

Grandfather was drafted- broke his femur in basic training.

Spent the entirety of WWII behind a desk in Oklahoma processing logistics and supply chain management requests. raddlesnake

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