13 October 2007

War Tales from Henri

I attended the funeral for my Grandfather on Thursday and met all of my relatives and their children. Henri had 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren and other than Lana and our children they were all there with their spouses, as well as many familiar faces from my past. It's a pity it takes this type of occasion to see one another again. My cousin had collected a great collection of photos of Henri and I thought this would be a good chance to post a couple more tales of Henri during the war. You can click either photo from more details.
The first photo is of Henri and others in front of a Threshing machine he used when he was hiding from the Germans in France. Henri is the one on the top right. Notice how his dress is different from all the real farmers? He was a city boy and the only place to hide was on a farm in France. When he met his first French farmer and asked for work the farmer asked Henri if he had any experience.
"Yes, lots," replied Henri confidently.
"Show me your hands," said the plain spoken farmer.
"Ah," stammered Henri as he showed his city bred hands.
"I am hiding from the German work gangs. My wife and three small children are at home in Belgium and I need to help them."
"Hmmm," murmured the farmer with his hands on his chin, "We'll see how you go."
Finally Henri overcame the innumerable blisters and he wasn't too much of a hindrance to the farmer after all.
Once the Allied troops had entered Belgium Henri quickly went home. His home had been liberated, but the front was only a few miles from home and his parents were still in enemy territory. Henri wanted to see how they were and went towards their house. An Allied soldier stopped him and told him, "The Germans are that way. What are you doing?"
"I want to see if my parents are OK."
"You'll have to wait until it's safe." the soldier told him.
Henri wasn't patient so snuck around and approached his parents house. Allied soldiers were cautiously approaching the little village and some armoured cars were leading the way. Henri followed a short distance behind when the lead armoured car suddenly exploded with the turret flying into the sky amidst flame and smoke. Henri quickly dived into the nearby ditch and decided he might wait after all!
This second photo is of Henri working on the British Spitfires. Once Belgium was liberated he was quick to help the Allies in maintaining their planes. He is the one in the middle leaning jauntily against the fuselage.

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