I don’t suppose I’m too different to many people when I recall my paternal Grandfather’s war stories.
He grew up on a farm in Poland in a large family. When the Nazis invaded, they made a beeline for it because his father was a registered officer in the army. The family was rounded up and put aboard freight trains that followed the German Army’s advances into Russia. Most of the family died either on this journey or at the camps they arrived at but he escaped with his brothers one night.
They made their way through the Middle East to join the Polish Army in exile in North Africa. Although he had to lie about his age to join, not yet having reached 16, they trained him in how to use a radio and he became a spotter for the artillery. He fought with them through Italy until the war was over at which point he came to London, having heard that the railway needed people with radio skills. There he met and fell in love with my Grandmother, a born and bred Londoner, and started a family. Years later he was rarely able to talk about his experiences beyond a few jokes, like how he still loved onions despite having been fed nothing but unlimited onions whilst in the Nazi’s camp.
As for the rest of my family, I never knew my maternal grandfather. He was a Frenchman and served as a doctor in Egypt during the Suez Canal crisis. He gave his life trying to ensure others kept theirs.
I therefore know deeply how war can mark families. Although neither of my grandfathers were British, both of their wives were and both grandfathers were involved in British conflicts. In many ways my family got off lightly compared to some.
Servicemen have to demonstrate great braveness both to go to war and to return to life afterwards. It’s not just the two world wars either – having known friends who’ve served in the Falklands War, the first Iraq War, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, I know it doesn’t take the entire world’s participation to make a huge impact on an individual or a whole family. The contribution these people make, regardless of the politics of the situation, should never be underestimated and neither should that of their families.
When Rodney Holman showed a range of poppy themed jewellery, I thought here was a great opportunity to do something to help show my thanks to the countless unsung heroes and heroines that let us enjoy the relative freedom and peace we do in this day and age. Handcrafted and with 18ct gold plating, these pieces are quality items made to be a pleasure to wear with pride.
With every purchase, we’ll be making a donation to The British Legion, the UK’s charity supporting servicemen and women and their families. This jewellery is not an official British Legion piece, rather the choice to make a donation was something I wanted to do to help ensure that the bravery and sacrifices made by our servicemen past and present is honoured. I hope that in a small way, our humble contribution will help repay the debt we owe to them and their families.
We’ll be adding to the collection over the coming days and weeks and hope you’ll support it. Please take a look at the new Rodney Holman jewellery poppy collection.