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09-28-2017, 12:06 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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The things you learn about family members after a funeral.

A lot of things are lost to the ages if family members never talk about them. Going through all of the things at my grandpap's house after he died has been quite the learning experience, especially since he never talked about anything. There were quite a few things that my mother didn't know about either, and she grew up in that house.

These are things we've learned through our exploration:

1.) My great grandfather worked as a lineman for both Pennsylvania Edison and Penelec (for over 35 years).
2.) My great grandmother during WWI worked assembling liberty engines for aircraft and received a congratulatory letter from the company because they were able to exceed their quota.
3.) My grandfather was quite the photography nut (as evidenced by the sheer amount of slides and film found).
4.) My grandfather was awarded 6 bronze stars for his service in the USCE during WWII (he never talked about his military service, ever. Even my mother didn't know until she had gone through some of his paperwork, and we have been unable to find any of his medals/awards thus far.)

Has anyone else found out any remarkable family history that was unknown until sorting an estate?

09-28-2017, 02:31 AM   #2
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Wow. I hope you're able to find out what he got all those medals for.
09-28-2017, 03:51 AM   #3
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Not when sorting out an estate. But recently I was re-reading a book about the Australians fighting the Japanese on Bougainville in 1945. It is called "War in the Shadows" and it is one man's story of what the fighting was like. Dad (who died in 1997) gave it to me to read once and said "This is just what it was like". But what I didn't realise at the time was that there is a description of Dad in one part of it, when the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) did some scouting for the author's unit. Dad was PIB and had just taken his company to Bougainville at that time. It wasn't just the description "their officer, tall, dark and good-looking as a film star" that told me it was him. The book quoted almost the same words he had said to me about his Papuan soldiers being "extra good in the bush" but liable to panic and "shoot through" in the face of heavy opposition. If that makes the PIB sound like a bit of a liability, it wasn't. It was just that he was settling down a newly re-formed company at the time and had a lot of inexperienced troops. The PIB ended the war with a kill rate of nearly 30 Japanese to one of their own lost (based on Japanese figures for their losses against the PIB) (the total was something like 2300 to 78). It is interesting to read someone else's take on him in a book like that after all these years. And I think you should research those medals too.
09-28-2017, 04:03 AM   #4
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My Mums sister husband we found out at his funeral ( not even his wife sons knew ) that he was 1 of the many POWs to work on the Burma railway . Its was only told after he died & there was a letter opened after he died . My Auntie never met him untill after the war & all he said was he was in the Pacific & not much more or would tell

09-30-2017, 08:30 PM   #5
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I just got some photos from my godmother in a complicated way. My great-uncle married a woman who had a daughter from a previous marriage; that was my godmother. They never had other children and my godmother was always a classic single schoolteacher in my mind. She was close to the family of my great-uncle's brother, another great-uncle that I never met. The granddaughter of the other great-uncle found my wife's genealogy online and eventually sent me this box of pictures she got after my godmother's funeral. My mom helped me go through them. One envelope was only labeled "als pictures". We now think that Al was my godmother's fiancÚ, killed in WWII, maybe in the Pacific.
09-30-2017, 09:34 PM   #6

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Many years after my grandfather's death, I found an old newspaper clipping which indicated he was awarded a medal (Bravery in the field) at Passchendaele during WW 1. He was a sergeant in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. I'm been very proud to be the current custodian of his medal. It will go to our son, when I pass on.

He died when I was 8 years old, but I was very fortunate to get to know him quite well, as he lived with our family and as he was retired, I was able to spend a great deal of time with him. He was a very fine gentleman, originally from Northern Ireland.

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