This is my Grandfather as a young man. I knew him as ‘Grandad’, my Mum called him ‘Dad’ and his friends called him Ron. He had a lot of friends.
To my shame I don’t know very much about my Grandad as a soldier, he was very young when he enlisted in the army at the start of World War II, so young he had to lie about his age. I know he fought in North Africa, Egypt, El Alamein, and Italy.
He told me a little about the battle for Monte Cassino, how they got cut off from retreating until an American destroyer almost dropped a shell right on top of his patrol, taking out the German troops so the Kiwis ‘ran like hell’ to escape.
He described how they slept leaning against the wheels of trucks because they didn’t have a chance to make camp.
But what I remember most about Grandad is his smile, his enjoyment of life and his generosity. Packing eight grandchildren into his little red car to take us ice skating. He loved gardening, and us kids loved playing in his garden. He always seemed happy to see us, and always had a loyal dog following him around.
The grandfather I loved was a peaceful man living a quiet life. It is hard to comprehend that as the young man in the photo above he fought terrible battles on the other side of the world to stop an evil that still horrifies us 66 years later.
As our nation remembers all who served our country this ANZAC day, I think of my Granddad who survived it all and lived to fill us all with love and joy. He probably never thought he would survive, let alone become a grandfather, but I’m so very thankful he did.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, (Philippians 1:3-4 ESV)