I was sad to hear of the death of the actor Peter Sallis. He was an actor who bought much pleasure to many either through Last of the Summer Wine or Wallis and Gromit among others. As I was reading his obituary it also brought up answers to some questions I had regarding my own family history.
The article stated that Peter Sallis was a radio instructor at RAF Cranwell during WW2. This was where my Grandpa was for part of the war. He two was a radio instructor. I knew he was a RAF Yatesbury but I knew he served at the same base as Peter Sallis. So I now know he was at RAF Cranwell as well. My Grandpa ran the lab next door to the one Mr Sallis worked in. Grandpa always used to say what a nice man Mr Sallis was and he used to enjoy watching him in Last of the Summer Wine.
From this remembrance I got thinking about what I really knew about my Grandfather’s war. I knew Grandpa joined the RAF, even though he was a reserved occupation being an Officer of His Majesty’s Customs and Excise, and I know my Grandad was in the army and served in India after the war and guarded York race course with a broom handle at one point, but what else did I know?
Neither of my grandfather’s used to talk about the war. Grandpa would if you asked and he did try to teach me Morse code a few times (and failed as I was a bad student). Grandad never spoke about it. The only time I heard him mention anything was when he was watching It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and said how it reminded him of his time in India. I have got my Grandad’s military records which I purchased so I do know more now.
I suppose the feeling all this thinking brought about was that if we don’t ask questions we lose out on so much of our ancestry. How many of us have a box full of photographs and we have now idea who’s in the photos. Even only back to my Grandparents I have a photo of their wedding day and I have no idea who half the people are! If I don’t know, what do I tell the next generation? This is a photo of your great grandparents wedding day, no idea who most of the people are! Even my parents don’t know who they are and they were people important enough to be at their parents wedding.
So the moral of the blog is ask questions and ask them before it’s too late. My Grandma died in her early 60’s before the questions were asked and now we’ll never know some things even though genealogy has given me answers to some things it can’t answer the undocumented stuff can it.