My Grandfather Robert John Gates died a few years before I was born. But I still miss him.
He was a Faversham man through and through, my family have been in the Faversham/Ospringe area for several generations. It was one of the reasons I was so keen to move my business back home. I feel a strong connection to this town and despite not knowing my Grandad I have always felt a strong bond to him.
Today I remember him with a heart full of Pride. Grandad fought and survived the Second World War. As far as we know he enlisted in the Kent Buffs originally and was stationed in Iceland with Montgomery’s Polar Bear Regiment. Whilst there he got quite sick and this illness was probably a contributing factor to him dying at only 50 years old. So although he survived the war it may well have cost him his life in the end and took my grandad from me.
After Iceland he retrained in Wales and was attached to the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery as a driver in M battalion which was the HQ unit. He drove many vehicles including tanks and landed at Arromanches on D DAY + 3. From there he and his unit fought all the way through France and Germany and he took part in the Berlin victory parade. My father and I visited Normandy a few years back and it was truly a humbling experience to retrace Grandads steps.
So today is a special day for me and my family. As the years go by the Second World War feels such a long time ago but although I was born 30 years after its end I still feel connected through the stories and memories of my Grandfather that have been passed down.
The lockdown has reminded us all how important the people we love are to us and VE Day is about remembering not only those who fought in the war but also reminds us how important it is to help those who need us now. What Grandad and his brothers in arms went through fills me with awe and after it was over they came home, rebuilt and got on with life. There are slight echoes with what we are all going through now, although that generation obviously had things far tougher than we do now. They couldn’t video chat and letters took weeks to reach loved ones at the front lines. Their worries were rather larger than not being able to get hold of flour or pasta but they kept going planned for the future and moved on.
History has always been a passion of mine which is partly why my company has the name it does. And through understanding our history we must remember and learn the lessons of the past to make the future a better place for us all.
Miss you Grandad thank you for all you did.