Tuesday, June 14, 2011

World War Two veterans we all know

I read recently that World War Two veterans are dying at an astonishing rate of 800 a day in the US and 300 a day in Britain. I also read a fine post from Paul over at A Modern Libertarian about the passing of Major Dick Winters, the man who lead Easy Company across Europe during World War Two which was immortalised in the TV series Band of Brothers. It got me thinking of just how poignant it is that World War Two veterans are becoming fewer and fewer. As of 2011, knowing a World war Two veteran or having one in your village, town or even your family is not unusual. But soon it will be. In ten years time only those that live to extreme old age will be around to tell their tales, and they will be telling their stories in TV documentaries, not in our living rooms. The war will become for many at that stage a historical event rather than something personal. A a small tribute I thought I would bring to the attention of Gubu World readers some well known World War Two veterans that are still living. Perhaps this will illustrate that the war is still very real for many people. Some you will know as vertrans but others will surprise you.

Jack Harte. The former Labour Party Senator served in the British Army throughout the war most notably in Malta.

James Molyneux. The former head of the Ulster Unionist Party served in the British Army during the war, He was among the British troops that liberated Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

Cathal O'Shannon. This one surprised me. The RTE presenter served in the RAF during the closing stages of the war.


Christopher Lee. The actor and Bond baddy spent time, believe it or not in Finland where he had volunteered to help the Finns in their war against the Soviets. He later joined the RAF and saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

Tony Benn. The former Labour Party cabinet Minister served in the RAF during the closing stages of the war.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh served in the Royal navy throughout the entire war. He participated in many famous battles including Crete, Sicily as well as many in the pacific. He was a witness to the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay in September 1945.

Frank Thornton. Remember this guy, Captain Peacock from Are you being served? Frank Thornton served in the RAF during the war.

Richard Attenborough. Despite playing a cowardly sailor in the 1942 film In Which We Serve Attenborough did in fact serve in the RAF during the latter years of the war.

George HW Bush. The 41st President served as a naval pilot in the Pacific. He flew on 58 missions. On one occasion in June 1944 his plane was shot down over the south Japanese islands. His two fellow crewmen were killed but Bush managed to bail out. He spent several hours at sea before he was picked up by a US Submarine. This picture was taken moments after he was rescued.

Bob Dole. The former Senator and 1996 Republican candidate for President served as an infantry man during the war. Weeks before the Nazi surrender in April 1945 he was riddle with German machine gun fire during a battle in northern Italy. His wounds took many years to heal but he eventually made a full recovery.

Charles Durning. The actor (Dog Day Afternoon) landed on Omaha beach on D-Day on would be involved in some of the fiercest fighting across France over the following six months. During the battle of the bulge he was shot in the chest.

Henry Kissenger. A German Jew who fled Nazi Germany in 1938, the future US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor would return to Europe as a military intelligence officer with the 84th Infantry Division. He saw combat at the Battle of the Bulge.

Kirk Douglas. Kirk Douglas served in the Navy from 1941-1944.

Eli Wallach. The actor, most famous for playing the bad guy in The good, the bad and the ugly served as a medical office in North Africa and France. Remember him as the bad Don in The Godfather part 3.

Jimmy Carter. The 39th president served in the Navy during the final years of the war. To my knowledge he did not see any combat. Does this make him a veteran ?

Ernest Borginne. This guy has been in so many movies and TV shows I wouldn't know where to begin. Borginne had already spent six years in the Navy 1935-41 when World War Two broke out. He actually left the Navy in 1941 but reenlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbour. For the rest of the war he served in the Pacific seeing action on several occasions.

Tony Bennett. Although only involved in Europe from January 1945 on, Tony Bennett was involved in some very heavy fighting as the US Army pushed on into Germany. He has claimed that he had several near death experiences and was very lucky to survive the war, a time which he has described as a front row seat in hell.

I'm sure there are many I have not thought of. I could even have put Pope Benedict up there but decided against it. If any of you are aware of any more please let us know.


Anonymous said...

George McGovern.
It's Thursday 16 June now and I'm looking at your photos - battleships, ducks - these are terrific!

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks very much Jenny

Glad you're enjoying my pics.

George McGovern, I never would have thought of him. Didn't realise he was either alive or a WW2 vet.