People Share The War Experiences Of Their Ancestors.

Participating in a war can be a harrowing experience. Many stories of people on all sides of the battlefield are lost. In this article, people share the stories passed down to them from their family of times they fought in a war.

The answers come from reddit users who are answering the question: "What did a family member of yours do in a war?" You can find more answers from the source link at the end of this article.

My grandpa was a gunner in the US Navy during WW2. His ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat and he ended up on the coast of Africa, behind German lines. Several crew members were eaten by sharks before reaching land. He a several of his buddies made through to American lines, but had nearly starved to death in the meanwhile.

The saddest part? Two of his friends died after eating too many hot dogs the first day in the American camp.


My grandpa stormed the beach in Normandy.


My Grandma was a little girl during the siege of Leningrad.

My Granddad was a messenger boy/courier for the Red Army during the battle of Stalingrad. They gave him a German pistol to defend himself with but it didn't have very many bullets. He only fired it once.

My father was a tank driver during the Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan. He has driven a tank through a house on one occasion, apparently it is an empowering thing to do.

My uncle (father's brother) did something in the infantry during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. We're not exactly sure what, but my cousin has gone digging through his stuff and she thinks he might have been Spetsnaz or some similar elite force. It would explain some of his war stories though.


My Grandfather fought in the Polish resistance and liberated a POW camp. According to my father, his nickname was Niedwied (means bear) and apparently they saved over 100 POW's when they raided the camp.


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My Paternal Grandfather was in the British Navy after having lied about his age to get in. At 16 years old he had sailed around half of the Mediterranean and some of North Africa. The type of boat he was on was called a minesweeper (like the game), his job was to protect larger ships from said mines and also to sink submarines/U-boats using depth charges. It's been two years since he died, but I'll keep all of his Naval stuff for the rest of my life. Rest in peace, Roger.


My great uncle was a pilot in WWII who was apparently taken hostage for a short period of time. 


My great uncle fought in Iwo Jima during WWII as a flamethrower. His name was Willie Vogeli, but we called him Wild Willie. During the war, a Japanese soldier killed one of his fellow flamethrower friends with a sword.


My Grandpa has all the "normal" Vietnam stories. Being shot at, hiding in 6 inches of cover, things like that. 

The most thought provoking story of his however, is about something he didn't do. On his last day before being sent home, he had to run a scouting mission. He was getting to go, when another soldier approached him. This soldier knew that my Grandpa was going home the next day, and decided to throw him a bone. This soldier offered to run my Grandpa's mission for him so he could take a break. That soldier was killed running the mission. 

I think about that story a lot.


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Dad was an M60 gunner in Desert Storm, Uncle worked on helicopters in Afghanistan and Iraq, grandpa was a rifleman in Vietnam, great grandfather liberated a concentration camp and rescued a German soldier who was about to be executed by the SS, and then we had a general who led German Hessians during the Revolution.


My great grandfather was in the British Army during WW1 and fought in the Ypres Salient. He was shot and gassed but survived the war. My grandfather (his son) has a German soldier's kitbag from that time, with a helmet, I.D cards and lots of personal letters and postcards etc in German. 

My grandfather doesn't really know how this kit bag ended up coming back with his father (who died when he was young thanks to war injuries). I'd really love to trace the old owner's descendants in Germany or wherever they may be and give them their (great) grandfather's things.


My grandfather drove a tank in WW2 until they discovered he was extremely efficient with a typewriter, at which point they put him somewhere behind the lines at headquarters.

Ironically, he now calls my dad weekly wondering what "email" is.


My grandfather was in the resistance in a Nazi-occupied country. He was just a kid so they'd hide the messages in fake schoolbooks, figuring that the Nazis wouldn't bother looking through those. He said he got stopped at checkpoints probably once a week and never got caught, although a drunk Nazi soldier punched him in the face one time just for laughs.

When he came to the U.S. he brought one of the fake books, which is really cool.


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My grandad on my dad's side was in the British navy. I got back from a family holiday to Crete, Greece a couple of years ago, and was on the phone to him. He's a father of 5, with nearly 3 times as many grandchildren, so I don't blame him for not remembering where we went. He asked, I told him, and he replied "I bombed that island in the war!"


My great great grandfather was a 1st generation Japanese person living in Hawaii. He was walking to the pharmacy with his brother when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was given the choice to join an internment camps or join the army. He joined the military and served by building structures. He was then shipped to the states where he met my great great grandmother, a German, and they fell in love. His family disowned him for marrying outside his race.


My great grandpa was a B-24 pilot. He flew over Germany and had stories upon stories. When he was taking off for Europe, he was the third B-24 on the runway. The first one took off, rolled over, and killed everyone onboard. The second one took off, rolled over, and killed everyone onboard. He was very close to rolling his plane over after taking off, but pulled it out just in time to escape certain death. Eventually, while he was grounded in London, he and some of the men he was with were headed home late at night from a day of gallivanting when they happened upon a small tavern with the light on. They could hear music coming from it. The music they heard was the voice of Glenn Miller. They heard one of his last concerts before he went missing.


My uncle survived the Bataan death march, and spent the rest of his life on disability after the war. He seemed okay to me, had a wife and children - but never any kind of full time job. No physical injuries, it was all mental. He's now long gone, but I wish I had a better understanding of what he was feeling.


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One grandpa got shot in the eye, lived, got a purple heart.

My other grandpa dropped a typewriter on his foot, lived, got a purple heart.


I found a small notebook in my dad's trunk from Vietnam 1968-69.

He had written down some vietnamese phrases, stuff like:

Sit Down

Turn Around

Bend Over

Strip Naked

Get Lost

How Much?

When I was younger I thought these were for interrogating prisoners, but after seeing some choice Vietnam war movies, I realized they were for interacting with sex workers....


My uncle Phil served in the 1st Infantry during WW2. He was in the 1st from North Africa all the way to the finish and was never wounded once. He always had a very dark sense of humor about the war but rarely talked about the normal effects.

He once told me near the end of the war, I think it was near Paderborn, his company was taking a village. He said there was a small firefight in the village, only a few dead.

Near the end, he was clearing a building by himself and saw a couple German soldiers firing from a window. He knew he only had about 2 shots left in his rifle but there were 4/5 Germans in the room. He said he normally would have just thrown a grenade in the room, but since it was near the end of the war, and he was so tired of death, he simply screamed at them to surrender and hope they gave up. They did.

He later had a cigarette with a German officer who spoke good English and he talked to the officer, who said his name was Wilhelm Keller (I think, its been a long time so I might have the name wrong?). Uncle Phil said they joked around and talked, and when Phil asked Keller what he actually thought of Hitler, Keller said he liked Hitler originally but now, since his actions will lead to Germany's extinction and so much suffering and misery, he hoped he would just "put a bullet in his brain." And we all know what happened next.


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My Dad was Spec Ops in Vietnam. He didn't like to get too detailed with it, but I know he jumped out of a plane over 200 times and when asked why he didn't own a gun for home protection he always said "because I can do more damage in a hallway with my bare hand." 

Also just remembered, but he said he and a group of other soldiers were trained by Native Americans in their technique of closing in on a target in an open field, moving so slowly as to not move the brush around you in a noticeable way to tip off guards.


While stationed in Australia, tripped while being shot at by a Zero. Picked himself up and his hat with a bullet hole through it. He never kept the hat.


One of my great-grandfathers was apparently part of the Polish partisans during WWII. He was an East-Prussian guy who ambushed SS convoys in the woods. Meanwhile, my other great-grandpa got blown up by a land mine on his way to Stalingrad as part of the Wehrmacht.



*Some of the comments have been edited for grammar and graphic content.*

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