Hayley Oats sent me a photo of Fred Ted and her grandfather’s military medals as part of the Everyday Treasures series.
Here’s Hayley’s story about Fred Ted and the Military Medals:
When I was asked by Vandy to provide something that should could paint that meant a lot to me, think what you would save in a fire, was the description. Well I had a tough time. I am the family historian for want of a better description, (although I think most of the family would say hoarder!) as well as a wedding photographer…… so anyway after my initial reaction of photos and family history I sat and thought about it more.
Here’s my precious item.
Fred the big teddy bear is very special to me, he was given to me the day I was born by my grandfather, affectionately known as Big Poppa. He was always the one who sat quietly in the corner of the kitchen whilst my grandma cooked and had a house full of people. The place was never empty, people popping in and out. If he wasn’t in the kitchen chair he was in his workshop with a car in bits to be mended or turning wood and making beautiful wooden, bowls, vases, fruit the list goes on. He was very creative. As a child I don’t remember him talking much, although I am assured he did, he was always there, just quietly observing. It was only when my grandma sadly passed away that I really started to have conversations with him and it was not long after that I got a job working with the Royal Engineers (Explosive Ordnance Regiment) that we started to learn about his time in the Second World War.
He started out in the Royal Artillery but was at some point yet to be defined, was recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the precursor to the SAS, for his explosives experience. Up until this point we don’t think he had talked to anyone about his WWII experiences, and he was always a little guarded about the level of detail he would give, he said, “ I signed the official Secrets Act and some things should stay that way” What we do know is that he was involved in Dieppe Raid of 1942 which was such a disaster, but that he made it into France to complete his mission, where the rest of his team were killed. He was also seriously injured: both his ankles were broken. He told me he remembers leaning over a 5 bar gate, and then being carried on someone’s shoulders, but not really much else. It appears he was found and carried back to safety by two , to this day unknown, Canadian soldiers. He recuperated in a military hospital in Kent.
We have many little anecdotes like this one: After one SOE mission he asked the medical officer how he could relax and he said he should get blind drunk and everything would be fine!
After his time in Dieppe he was taken off active overseas service and became a military lorry driver in the UK. Once the war was over he was discharged and had a successful career back at home in Yorkshire working for British Coal. In later years he was given a military pension because his hearing had been so damaged by his time in the Royal Artillery.
We hadn’t really heard any of these stories until I started my job with the Royal Engineers. Sadly, he died a short while after I started working there and so it makes those precious moments extra special. The military medals are his, they don’t look like many for a man whose service was so varied, (this is just a short highlight) but medals weren’t awarded to those in the SOE, as it was Clandestine operations they couldn’t give medals for things that didn’t ‘technically’ happen.
So Fred and the military medals, remind me of how precious it is to spend time with my family talking about our adventures so the stories can live on. Fred and the medals, and this fabulous painting will one day pass to my nephew so he can carry on knowing the stories.