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Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

He Sang “Dixie” For The RAF

dad-4-with-pistol-3Because of all the Confederate controversy I’m reposting this story about Dad in WWII.

My father, I. Granger McDaniel was a true hero and legend in WWII. I planned on writing about a letter he wrote to his mom, after being shot down over the North Sea.

But  there’s another  story I heard over and over again, and even as a little girl, I thought it was really funny.

Dad left high school and ran off, from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to join the war effort when he was just 17, before the United States was in the fight. Because he had some flying experience ended up in England as a piolit for the RAF (Royal Air Forcer) at the ridicuolsy young age of 17. Dad was captain of a Short Sterling, a massive bomber with a seven or eight man crew.

When Dad wasn’t flying, he was in London, and spent a great deal of time in the RAF Officers Club. Every night, when the bar closed all the officers would stand as the band played God Save the King.

One night, after hours of drinking, Dad stood up to address the gentlemen in the club. Imagine a brash teen aged pilot, surrounded by older  British officers, drunk but determined and sincere.   He told the band director they should play his national anthem as well as God Save The King.  He was fighting for their country, America should be recognized. The band leader acquiesced and agreed to play the United State’s national anthem before God Save the King.

Then has asked Dad to sing the song, to refresh his memory. Dad was young and drunk, he thought for a moment then started humming Dixie.  “I wish I were in Dixie, away away.”

Aaahhhh yes, the band leader recognized the tune.

The next night  all the RAF officers stood in reverence as the band played Dixie, then God Save th King.

The following morning Dad walked out of his room and was immediately arrested.  The charge was Treason against the King.  Dad’s superiors thought he was mocking the British Monarchy when he asked the band to play Dixie and claimed it was the USA’s national anthem.

A barrister was assigned to represent Daddy in court.  He was a smart, fat, sweaty man. And when he heard the details of the situation he came up with an idea for a defense almost immediately.

Just a few days latter they stood in front of a judge to plead Dad’s case. Remember, all of England was under attack as the Nazis stormed across Europe. The country was under siege and desperate. So the smart sweaty barrister explained, with elaborate detail, that Daddy’s family was not only from America, they were  from”The South”.  When the South tried to succeed from the Union, Dad’s family fought in the Civil War valiantly, with heart and soul.  Cousins, brothers and fathers died in The War of The States. According to Dad, and the sweaty barrister, our family never surrendered to the North, never acknowledge the losse to the north and in Daddy’s heart,  “The South” was still his nation, therefore Dixie was in fact, his national anthem.

Obviously my father, the arrogant and brilliant teen aged pilot was of more use the England bombing Nazis then he was behind bars. So the judge accepted  his transparent explanation and he was cleared of treason charges.

Six months latter he was shot down over the North Sea and spent four years in POW camps. But that’s a story for another day. Have a wonderful Memorial Day and thank you to all our men and women in the armed forces.

A Letter From My Father…1943

irvin-mcdaniel powMy dad, I. Granger McDaniel, spent four years in German POW camps during World War II.  I just found a brittle and faded letter he wrote to his father while a prisoner.  He forged his own birth certificate and high school diploma to join the RAF, so he was just 18 or 19 years old when he wrote this letter, which is beautifully written.

Dear Dad; Thanks for your swell card, it certainly helped! Excuse this lettering I can do better. I have been studying a little Architecture. Just as a hobby mostly history. I’m extremely pleased to know you are getting along so well. We will have a big time when I get back.

I guess I would like to come home and say “Well dad I know now you were right and I’m ready to listen to you now, and start a a-new where I left off” but I’m afraid that pride which I inherited from you, will prevent me from ever doing so.  The hell of this situation is I can’t plan in anyway for the future, however, have chosen my work and now must stick to it. Ol’ fate  kinda slipped me a lousy hole card but i’m hoping that it will suffice to make me just that much stronger. I have some fine ideas for when i get out. One is for remodeling the house. Tell everyone hellow for me and keep Cal. working. If you run across any old Architecture books try and get them for my collection I’m going to have. Take good care of mom for me. Bo-

There’s nothing much I can ad to the beauty and eloquence of this letter.  He was a hell of a man.

Recently a RAF historian contacted me. he’s put up a whole page about Dad’s plane being shot down…and more.

http://218squadron.wordpress.com/pilot-officer-irven-granger-mcdaniel/

 

God Save The King and I Granger McDaniel

dad-4-with-pistol-3There’s a  lot of interest in dad and his stories right now so I’m reprinting one of my favorites.

 

My father, I. Granger McDaniel was a true hero and legend in WWII. I planned on writing about a letter he wrote to his mom, after being shot down over the North Sea.

But  there’s another  story I heard over and over again, and even as a little girl, I thought it was really funny.

Dad left high school and ran off, from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to join the war effort when he was just 17, before the United States was in the fight. Because he had some flying experience ended up in England as a piolit for the RAF (Royal Air Forcer) at the ridicuolsy young age of 17. Dad was captain of a Short Sterling, a massive bomber with a seven or eight man crew.

When Dad wasn’t flying, he was in London, and spent a great deal of time in the RAF Officers Club. Every night, when the bar closed all the officers would stand as the band played God Save the King.

One night, after hours of drinking, Dad stood up to address the gentlemen in the club. Imagine a brash teen aged pilot, surrounded by older  British officers, drunk but determined and sincere.   He told the band director they should play hisnational anthem as well as God Save The King.  He was fighting for their country, America should be recognized. The band leader acquiesced and agreed to play the United State’s national anthem before God Save the King.

Then has asked Dad to sing the song, to refresh his memory. Dad was young and drunk, he thought for a moment then started humming Dixie.  “I wish I were in Dixie, away away.”

Aaahhhh yes, the band leader recognized the tune.

The next night  all the RAF officers stood in reverence as the band played Dixie, then God Save th King.

The following morning Dad walked out of his room and was immediately arrested.  The charge was Treason against the King.  Dad’s superiors thought he was mocking the British Monarchy when he asked the band to play Dixie and claimed it was the USA’s national anthem.

A barrister was assigned to represent Daddy in court.  He was a smart, fat, sweaty man. And when he heard the details of the situation he came up with an idea for a defense almost immediately.

Just a few days latter they stood in front of a judge to plead Dad’s case. Remember, all of England was under attack as the Nazis stormed across Europe. The country was under siege and desperate. So the smart sweaty barrister explained, with elaborate detail, that Daddy’s family was not only from America, they were  from”The South”.  When the South tried to succeed from the Union, Dad’s family fought in the Civil War valiantly, with heart and soul.  Cousins, brothers and fathers died in The War of The States. According to Dad, and the sweaty barrister, our family never surrendered to the North, never acknowledge the losse to the north and in Daddy’s heart,  “The South” was still his nation, therefore Dixie was in fact, his national anthem.

Obviously my father, the arrogant and brilliant teen aged pilot was of more use the England bombing Nazis then he was behind bars. So the judge accepted  his transparent explanation and he was cleared of treason charges.

Six months latter he was shot down over the North Sea and spent four years in POW camps. But that’s a story for another day. Have a wonderful Memorial Day and thank you to all our men and women in the armed forces.

An Arkansas Boy in WWII

dad 4 with pistol (3)I’ve promised my kids I would write this story for a long time. It’s tough because it may be the greatest story every told, and I’m not sure I have the words. I’m reprinting this blog , in honor of Veteran’s Day.

My father, I Granger McDaniel, did not serve in the American military but he absolutely served, saved, survived World War II.

My dad was a short,  quick and charming kid  when he was in high school in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1940.

Hitler was slaughtering  Jews in Europe but America had not yet  joined the forces to defeat him. My dad wanted a piece of the action, he wanted to fly,  he wanted to save the world and he wanted to impress my mom, who’d been his sweet heart since third grade.

So, at the age of 17 he dropped out of Hot Springs High, forged his own high school diploma and ran away to Canada.  Because he’d been taking flying lessons at the Hot Springs Memorial Field the Canadians considered him a pilot. They shipped him to England where at the age of 17 he joined the RAF, the Royal  Air Force.

He had just turned eighteen when he was made the Captain of a Short Sterling bomber with an eight man crew. Eighteen years old. Over several months he and his crew flew lots of successful missions and raids. They delivered their load, dodged gun fire from land and air and did their part to  beat back the Nazis.

After completing a mission in 1942 Dad and his crew were limping home, across the North Sea after being  hit by enemy gunfire.  Finally, dad made the decision to crash land the massive bomber in the North Sea. My father was able to save some of his crew but not all.  They floated for  days in a rubber dingy before being picked up by a Danish fisherman.

While on board Dad wrote a letter to his mom. I’m holding the letter now, so I’m gonna let him tell the rest of the story.

“Dear Mom,

Now don’t go get all worried. I am o.k. On a Danish fishing boat at the present. Spent four days in a dinghe. Jerry will treat us ok. two of my crew are with me, I lost four. Tell Cal and Dailey to be good and take care of you. I will try to get my pay sent to you. sorry i let you all down, thought i was going to win this war. I had a hell of a crash in the sea. I was thrown through the wind screen and swam with full flying kit to the back and pulled two out. It sank before I could get the rest. Two of them were shot anyway.

Tell Cal not to forget all the things I told him and that with faith he doesn’t need to worry about anything. Maybe I can study Architecture in prison camp.

Write to Air Ministry and tell them to send all my pay home. I hope dad is feeling better and Ginia and the baby are ok. Dad always said would stick my neck out too far. Now I’ve done it. I am lucky to be alive tho.

Tell Choate he thinks he was pretty sly I guess.

I guess I kinda got my flying career cut short huh? I got four engine stuff anyhow….

Honest mom, I want you all to know, I tried to save my crew. I could have had em bail out in Germany, but I thought I could take em home on 3 engines but soon another cut. I tried to get em to crash positions before we hit, then I tried to pull em out but I got two and it sank in  1 1/2 min. My wirless (I can’t read his writing) was sending S.O.S though wounded.

I didn’t have my time all in my log. I wish you would write and try and get it.

Right now I got me a big black cigar, guess I better enjoy it.

I think I will be able to write through the Red Cross. Please don’t worry now. Just have faith.

Give everyone my regards   Bud.   Irven Granger McDaniel”

Everytime I read his words I am stunned by the grace, composure and selflessness of that eighteen year old boy. Strange things went on to happen. He spent four years in POW camp, but he was able to study architecture. He escaped so many times he was called “The Cooler King” and he was part of The Great Escape from Stalag III.

I was only sixteen when my dad died. but I hope his service to the world and faith will never be forgotten.

I love you Dad

The Madam in the Whore House Saves Dad’s Day

dad-4-with-pistol-3I’m rereading Slaughter House 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and stumbled across a line I didn’t understand before.  Vonnegut wrote about being free after the war. He is sent to France where they feed the soldiers “malted milkshakes and other rich foods until we were all covered with baby fat.”

My dad, I Granger McDaniel, told a funny/sad story about returning from the War. I was little when he would tell this story so I’ll probably have great big mistakes in this tale. Good news…you won’t know about them.

Once again, I’ve realized I’m the last one who is still alive in my family so I need to write down as many stories as possible for my kids. Once I’m gone….so are the stories.

Dad had been in the German POW camps for four years when he was suddenly freed.  Obviously, he was frighteningly skinny because he’d been  deprived of food for so long. And as the war progressed the rations became more and more meager.

Once a Red Cross package was delivered and a crazed young man in the barracks grabbed a whole pound of butter.  He ate it all at once before the other prisoners could get it away from him. The boy died a few hours latter and Dad was never sure why.

Once he was freed, Dad was delivered to London. In just a few weeks the British fattened him up so much he couldn’t button his pants.  His body was too happy to have food and held on to every calorie. As a result, after four years in a POW camp, he was a roly poly fat boy when he got home to Hot Springs, Arkansas. He said he could tell folks were a little disappointed by his appearance. They were expected a lean, prison hardened war hero.

After a few days at home Dad flew up to New York to see mom. Remember, they had been in love since third grade.  Mom had graduated from Vassar and was working as an actress and model in NYC. But they had written to each other throughout his four year prison stay and were already planning on getting married.

Typical of my parents, after a few days they got into a HUGE fight! Dad was so mad he actually flew back to England, thinking he still had a job with the RAF. But the war was over so dad found out they really didn’t need him. Everyone he had known in London was gone and he had no place to stay.

Depressed and lonesome he wandered through the streets of London in uniform. He’d been through so much but was still just a boy of 21 or 22.  It started raining as he walked on the cobblestone streets then suddenly he heard a shriek. Someone, a woman, was screaming to him, “Irvo! Irvo is that you? Irvo…up here!!!”  He spun around, looked up and saw an old fat woman with a great deal of make up, leaning out a third floor window, waving and flapping at him furiously. Walking back he realized it was the aging madam of a whore house he’d frequented. She took him in for a few nights until he found a way to get back to the States.

For years my mom and the madam kept in touch. As a child I loved the elaborate Christmas cards she sent  every year. In the seventies, my Mom toured Europe and tried to find the whore house and madam who took Dad in. But they were all gone. Nothing was left but the dark cobblestone streets of London.

 

 

God Save The King from An Arkansas Boy

My father, I. Granger McDaniel was a true hero and legend in WWII. I planned on writing about a letter he wrote to his mom, after being shot down over the North Sea.

But  there’s another  story I heard over and over again, and even as a little girl, I thought it was really funny.

Dad left high school and ran off, from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to join the war effort when he was just 17, before the United States was in the fight. Because he had some flying experience ended up in England as a piolit for the RAF (Royal Air Forcer) at the ridicuolsy young age of 17. Dad was captain of a Short Sterling, a massive bomber with a seven or eight man crew.

When Dad wasn’t flying, he was in London, and spent a great deal of time in the RAF Officers Club. Every night, when the bar closed all the officers would stand as the band played God Save the King.

One night, after hours of drinking, Dad stood up to address the gentlemen in the club. Imagine a brash teen aged pilot, surrounded byolder  British officers, drunk but determined and sincere.   He told the band director they should play his national anthem as well as God Save The King.  He was fighting for their country, America should be recognized. The band leader acquiesced and agreed to play the United State’s national anthem before God Save the King.

Then has asked Dad to sing the song, to refresh his memory. Dad was young and drunk, he thought for a moment then started humming Dixie.  “I wish I were in Dixie, away away.”

Aaahhhh yes, the band leader recognized the tune.

The next night  all the RAF officers stood in reverence as the band played Dixie, then God Save th King.

The following morning Dad walked out of his room and was immediately arrested.  The charge was Treason against the King.  Dad’s superiors thought he was mocking the British Monarchy when he asked the band to play Dixie and claimed it was the USA’s national anthem.

A barrister was assigned to represent Daddy in court.  He was a smart, fat, sweaty man. And when he heard the details of the situation he came up with an idea for a defense almost immediately.

Just a few days latter they stood in front of a judge to plead Dad’s case. Remember, all of England was under attack as the Nazis stormed across Europe. The country was under siege and desperate. So the smart sweaty barrister explained, with elaborate detail, that Daddy’s family was not only from America, they were  from”The South”.  When the South tried to succeed from the Union, Dad’s family fought in the Civil War valiantly, with heart and soul.  Cousins, brothers and fathers died in The War of The States. According to Dad, and the sweaty barrister, our family never surrendered to the North, never acknowledge the losse to the north and in Daddy’s heart,  “The South” was still his nation, therefore Dixie was in fact, his national anthem.

Obviously my father, the arrogant and brilliant teen aged pilot was of more use the England bombing Nazis then he was behind bars. So the judge accepted  his transparent explanation and he was cleared of treason charges.

Six months latter he was shot down over the North Sea and spent four years in POW camps. But that’s a story for another day. Have a wonderful Memorial Day and thank you to all our men and women in the armed forces.