Different Heroes…

I had meant to do this post for Remembrance Day, but didn’t quite get to it…

My mum tells a story about the first meeting between her parents and my dad’s parents; it sounds like one of those situations where you wouldn’t even want to be a fly on the wall. Once you have read through this post, you may understand that what was always going to be an uncomfortable meeting went to a new level of awkwardness when my mum’s dad asked my dad’s dad, ‘What did you do during the war?’…

At the age of 23 my mum’s dad Ronald Frederick Taylor went to war – although not a trained doctor he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He delighted in telling us the story about the first time he was in attendance at an amputation; the surgeon removed and handed the leg to my grandad who promptly passed out. He awoke around half an hour later with the aforementioned leg still lying on his chest!

We only know a few of the details of what Grandad Taylor did during the war, just after the war, it wasn’t something he wanted to talk about and by the time I became old enough to be properly interested Alzheimer’s had taken much of the clarity away. What we do know is that it was certainly a busy war! Grandad spent time in the deserts of North Africa under Montgomery with 21 Army Group, fought hand-to-hand with the Japanese in the jungles of Burma and ended the war in Europe.

In Europe, my Grandad at the age of 28 was present at the liberation of Belsen concentration camp, I cannot imagine the horrors he would have had to deal with being part of the medical corps but the photographs below give you an idea of some the sights. Where there was text on the back of the photographs, I have added it as captions. They do not always make complete sense, but you will get the idea…

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My dad’s dad, Roy Wallington Dalton was a conscientious objector. He did not choose this because he was a coward, he had to endure a lot of stick because of his decision. He did not choose this because he was lazy, he did not sit out the war claiming the moral high ground, he dug the land in order to provide much-needed food for the country, so why did he do it? Both of my grandads were Christians, but as a member of the Brethren church, to Grandad Dalton, ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’ was absolute regardless of situation or circumstance. Grandad Dalton always spoke of his faith, not just to his family and friends, but to everyone! People who knocked on his door, people in the queue next to him in the supermarket his concern for the lost was extraordinary!  God did not want Grandad Dalton to fight during the war, so he did not – as simple as that.

I imagine that many reading this post will look at Grandad Taylor as the hero of the two, fighting the Germans, fighting the Japanese and helping to liberate those in the most desperate of circumstances. I consider both of my Grandads to be heroes, real heroes. One for having the courage to fight and provide the freedom that we live under, and the other for having the courage to wholeheartedly accept the gift of that freedom…

“Our heroes are men who do things which we recognize, with regret, and sometimes with a secret shame, that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.”  – Mark Twain

Lest we forget…

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3 comments on “Different Heroes…
  1. Anton Green says:

    A fascinating contrast, well described. i have just been reading “‘Refusing to Kill” a peace pledge union publication. I was very much moved by the account of the costly path that conscience objectors had to tread in the first world war. i have previously read much about the experience of those caught up in the great madness of war. Understanding the nature of war and the experience of those caught up in it is vital. The study of conscience objection is inspiring and the history of conscientious objection should be fully known.

  2. judedalton says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings and commented:

    For last year’s Remembrance Day…

  3. Michelle Wilson says:

    Great article. One of my grandads flew fighter planes during the war, after lying about his age to sign up. The other, like yours, was a conscientious objector and drove ambulances in England. Both played the part they were called to play. Both hero’s

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