Wartime Grandad

He thinks he knows everything - Wartime Grandad introduction. Ever since Nan died all he seems to do is criticise me. It doesn’t help that everything about being near him is so awkward. I’ve never really talked to my Grandad. He has always just been the gruff; purple-faced old man sat in the corner… there has to be a reason for his stubbornness. Blinded by my temper, I stormed up into the loft… and here I am hiding in the darkness. I often come up here, to escape from the world. I feel closer to my Nan; the warm scent of her perfume looms in the air. I don’t even like lavender, but it’s so soothing.

Darkness overwhelmed the room so I carried a small torch. Whilst weeping over the lost memories of yesterday the light fell upon a smallish brown box. Not like one I had ever seen before, it was old, mystical and well, almost indescribable. Curiosity beckoned me, like a moth drawn to a flame I moved towards it… and so it began… The brown box was laden in dust, as though it had been there years. I gently swept my hand across it, removing the dust and revealing tiny engraved letters. I shone the torch upon it; it read “William Edward Maddocks, Wartime Memories”… My Grandad was in the war?

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Intrigued I turned the latch and lifted the lid, there to reveal a horde of sepia tone photographs and paper. I began to explore the cluster of images. They were all of young men dressed smartly in navel uniforms. My eyes then fell upon a photograph of two young navel soldiers. I guessed they were friends by the way they had they’re arms round one another. One was tall, dark and handsome. His hair was neatly in place; He was smartly dressed and seemed to hold his head high with pride. The other looked rather robust and dwarf like. His expression was faded and miserable. I felt like I knew him.

The face was one I recognised, like the reflection I see when I look in the mirror. It then hit me hard… Grandad. I stared a while longer at the picture, analysing my discovery. Suddenly the image of my Grandad began to talk. Startled, and overwhelmed with fear I jolted upright, forgetting I was in the loft, and smacking my head against the rafts. I fell into darkness… Something swept across my face. I began to stir. I opened my eyes but it was to dark to see anything. I must have dropped the torch. I could hear faint blasts in the distance, pulsing and vibrating up the floor into my chest.

In a daze I followed a small glimpse of light which must have been coming from the attic door. As I descended down the steps I noticed something wasn’t right. Then it hit me… this wasn’t my Grandad’s house! Feeling confused and unnerved I ran into the different rooms of what seemed to be a small cottage. The walls were white-washed with decrepit pictures of horses and flowers hung on them. It smelt intensely of lavender and tobacco. I staggered over to the window to validate my whereabouts. To my surprise there before me stood a pre-1920’s village! I could see tiny little houses row on row all decorated with the flowers of summer.

Although the street was deserted it felt hospitable. No graffiti upon the walls… no litter on the floor; not like at home… then it dawned on me… home. How would I get back… not that I even knew how I’d come to be in the cottage. Panic streamed through my body… taking over my thought. Then something caught my eye. There in the distance was a fiery white flash and smoke began to emerge beyond the hill. My gaze then fell upon a fleet of planes… spitfires I think, flying overhead. The racket they made was outstanding! Then all was silent. I sat upon the window ledge a while letting the leading events run through my mind.

Who’s there” I heard a shaken yet stern voice call from downstairs. Too terrified to call back I stayed frozen to the spot. Then, thuds as whoever was there began to walk up the stairs in search of me. I felt paralysed. Then, in the doorway stood a figure of a plump old woman. Merry looking, with rosy red cheeks and curly grey hair… about 45. “Who in Lord’s name are you? ” she asked. I told her my name and how I couldn’t remember how I got there.

I also told her about my argument with Grandad, and the wartime photos. She never said anything for a while, just sat there, then whispered blankly “impossible… possible”. “Oh God” I thought “now everyone is going to think im mad! ” however moments later she exclaimed “but I totally believe you! ” and came and gave me a big warm hug, telling me her name was May but I was to call her auntie May. Later that evening, she gave me a place to stay and told me all about the war. It sounded terrible, yet exciting and adventurous! She also told me about all the brave and respected soldiers that signed up in the city hall… and I got a few ideas… I arose early next morning writing auntie May a letter telling her that I would no longer be staying with her.

I was upset about leaving such a lovely lady, but it had to be done. I then made my way to the city hall. I was going to join the army. I felt extremely nervous and I had funny feelings in the pit of my stomach like moths. I kept telling myself I had to be strong though, that I could finally prove to Grandad I was worth something. Moments later it was done… was it really that hard? There would be a truck to pick me up within the next hour… and then my adventure would begin. Inside the truck were other strapping young lads. Some my age others even younger! I was shocked. There was one though that really stood out.

He was sat next to me, same sort of age, smart brown hair, plump but fit looking. He looked kind of miserable however there was a glint of excitement in his eyes. I did not know if I should talk to him, and spent most of the journey plucking the courage to ask for his name. In the end he just asked for mine with a simple grin upon his face. “My name is James” I replied “And yours? “… “Edward… Edward Maddocks”. Grandad! I was so shocked, and confused. Could this have been? I meant it must have been, he was sat right there. We got talking for the rest of the journey and became great friends.

I found out so much about him I thought I’d never know. I desperately wanted to tell him about our true relationship but I was scared he wouldn’t believe me and I loved having his trust. Our journey carried on right through the night until eventually we came to a large warship which would be our home for the duration. We were each shown to our cabins. Mine was shared with Grandad and we settled down as the ship weighed anchor. I awoke to a loud siren which called us upon the decks. I was already dressed which made me first on hand Grandad not far behind. There were loud booms and thuds as we struggled to load the bombs.

I began to panic. If there weren’t explosions in front, there was behind and the smoke began to fill my lungs. I had to carry on. My eyes were streaming and flying bits of shrapnel kept hitting me. It was the wrong time to find I had seasickness but there it was… all over the decks. People were shouting at me but I couldn’t hear over the ear piercing explosions. I lost sight of my Grandad and began a desperate search as I dodged bullets. Just as I caught sight of him there was a short silence, in which someone yelled “shell to the port side!! ” I had no time to react and something sharp hit me hard between the shoulder blades.

I fell to the floor in immense agony. Then there was and almighty Bang! And the ship began to be swallowed up by the angry sea. I tried to get up but I was becoming drowsy, getting weaker and weaker, so I began to yell to my Grandad. The sea was begging to lap my feet by now and the enraged explosions became faded. Everything was hazy. I lost all hope as I began to slip into cold death. I was numbed by now. Then out of nowhere Grandad came rushing to my aid, though the ship was sinking fast. I could see the safety boat about to leave. I could let my Grandad stay here and die by my side. “Go… ” I whispered “But… ” he whimpered “Just go! .. then total darkness… “James… James! “… my eyes opened… I seemed to be in a familiar dark room. “James are you up there? “… Grandad! I was alive! I wearily sat up. My eyes had become accustomed to the darkness and I could see the scattered photographs of the wartime memories. Then once again it hit me… was I just in a war? Did that really just happen? Whatever it was the hellish place sent shivers down my spine.

“James? ” and up came my Grandad. I told him about my experience in the war and apologised right away for the dispute which took place earlier that day. He then began to show more emotion than he had for 15 years… d cried. “That’s how you come to have your name dear grandson… my friend who died on that fateful day took part of me with him, how could I have been such a terrible friend to have left him? So I thought I’d honour him by keeping the memories of him alive, and it has worked, for you are the total identical to him. ” He croaked. I tried to explain that it was me but he wouldn’t accept it. “We had better get that bump on the head of yours checked out… ” and off he plodded to call the doctor. I guess he will never truly know. Now I know the reason for his stubbornness and that the troubles and toils of war has changed a once innocent mind.

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