In 2014 we are going to see to two major World War milestones commemorated that have had a huge impact on the world and helped to shape the world we live in today.
On June 6, 2014 we observe the 70th anniversary of the invasion at Normandy or what became known as D-Day. In 1944 the invasion began with overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks and naval bombardments. In the early morning, amphibious landings on beaches codenamed Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah and Sword began.
On July 28, 2014 we observe the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, also known as the Great War. This is the day when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and was a month after a Bosnian Serb student assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. That incident started a month long diplomatic event called the July Crisis. Countries involved in the July Crisis were Austria-Hungary, France, Britain, Germany and Russia. Within a week of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war France, Germany, Russia and Britain also declared war.
Both of these wars had a major impact on the world we live in today. It saw many people fleeing countries that were invaded and seeking refuge in other countries; families were torn apart; brave men and women stood up for what they believed in. We can learn a lot from history and what happened during those times.
For me personally I had a great grandfather who served in the Royal New Zealand Army in World War I and his son, my grandfather, served in the Royal New Zealand Army in World War II along with his brother. My grandfather was one of the many Australian and New Zealand men who fought with the Greeks on Crete. I remember years later he was awarded a certificate and medal from the Greek government for his services during World War II in helping the Greek fight the Germans. My grandfather never talked about his time in the war, it wasn’t until many years after his passing that I learned some of what he went through. My grandmother, his wife, served in the New Zealand Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s) as a cook and was based in New Zealand supporting those serving on the home front. I later followed in their footsteps and proudly served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for six years.
I am very proud of my grandparents, great grandparents, and great uncle for the service they gave to their country. I’m also proud of others in my family tree that I don’t know about yet who served. As I dig further into my family tree I’m sure I will find them. One of the things on the top of my bucket list is to visit Crete and learn about what went on there during World War II and learn more about the role of my grandfather’s unit there.
Who do you have in your family that has served in one or both of the World Wars? Have you visited any of the areas where they fought and what was it like?
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