Wednesday, November 12, 2008


While technically it was Remembrance Day yesterday, I will post this today without reservation as I remember every day the man who was the veteran of my family. I woke up yesterday to the sound of bag pipes as I live close to our local Canadian Legion (an organization that supports veterans) and could hear their ceremonies from my home. It immediately made me think of a grandfather, my "Poppie", a man I love deeply and miss every day. He was a proud Scott that once told me that "if you don't get goose bumps from the sound of bag pipes, you aren't Scottish!" The last time I heard a piper play was at his funeral. The sound of them yesterday morning sent the goosebumps up my arms and brought the tears to my eyes in a flash. But I couldn't help but smile and remember those words. I am a Scott after all!

My grandfather served in WWII as a airplane mechanic in the Royal Canadian Air Force. We have pictures of his time during the services, of the great planes that he worked on and the time he spent overseas. One of my favorites was a picture of him, standing tall and handsome in a pair of overalls in front of a downed bomber in a snowy field. We liked to tease that it was "the plane Poppie fixed". It was said in jest of course, he could fix just about anything, though it might be held together with some blasting wire and a few blobs of sauter. A great man for sautering, my Pop's was!

I also loved an old black and white snapshot that my Poppie took while kneeling on the shoulders of his friend and looking out over a crowd in a square in England. A sea of people stood, shoulder to shoulder, gathered to listen to Churchill speak in person and address the end of the war. Poppie said that, though there were literally thousands of people, you could hear a pin drop.

Poppy was also a story teller, and a great one at that. He told me that all the mechanics were required to go up for a test flight after doing any major work on a plane and that you were paid an extra nickle (or something of the sort) for every time you went up. The Force claimed it was so that the mechanics could listen to the engine in flight but in truth it was that they felt the mechanics were better inclined to do a good job if their own life, not just that of the airmen, were being wagered on it! Well, regardless of the confidence (or pride) my grandfather took in his work, he absolutely hated to fly so he enlisted the help of his good friend, Pete, that loved to go up. The agreement was that Poppy would give Pete the extra nickle if he would go in his place. For a Scotsman known for thrift, this was as great of a testament to his dread of flying as any! But Poppie never begrudged handing over that nickle and Pete, fortunately, never regretting taking it.

Poppy spoke of his time during the service during the war with a humble pride. He served the majority of his time here in Canada but did go overseas as a part of a small group. All of the mechanics in the Force had taken a written test in order to determine a select few that would be trained to work on the great Rolls Royce engines in England and my Poppy was one of them. He would always say he never saw any "real action" over seas but he certainly did his part. I am so very proud of my grandfather for his service. I wear my red little Poppy pin with pride. I am also proud and grateful to each and every one of the men and woman who served and continue to serve, to protect our country and our freedom.


  1. What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing what a wonderful man your Poppie was! I wish I had known my Grandfather better. He too served in the war, but the stories were never passed on very often as we didn't see him much. He passed about 8 years ago due to Pancreatic Cancer.

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  3. Just wanted to let you know - I also had a grandpa that was an airplane mechanic. Only he served in Vietnam aboard aircraft carriers. He was left mostly deaf in his later years because of lack of proper ear protection and the guys unwillingness to use it once they got it.

    That side of my family is also Scott (and Irish, although he never liked to admit that). Making my mom's family a rather hot tempered bunch that enjoyed drinking. Nice.

    Although other than the occasional conversation they were never really up on researching their heritage so I didn't know about the bag pipe thing.

    But if I am outdoors and hear them I have been known to walk over 2 miles to find them, because I can't get enough of them the sound will draw me in. And yes they give me chills too.

  4. That is a beautiful tribute Horse Crazed!!! I have no doubt that your poppy was as proud of you as you are of him.

    And the teeny, tiny flicker of Scot blood I have left raises goosebumps on my arms when I hear bagpipes too!!

  5. Another part-Scot here! I even spent my honeymoon in Scotland! I could listen to bagpipes all day.

    Great tribute to Poppie - you are lucky to know what you do about his service.

    My grandfather and great-uncle both served. The other grandfather was exempted because he was a farmer. I have my great-uncle's medals and besides knowing that he was a medic, no one knows much about their time overseas. My grandfather refused to discuss it, except for the odd thing here and there. Funny - I've been thinking about the past alot and I'll be asking my grandmother if she has any photos of either men - seems like a part of history that should be taken care of or something...

    Sorry for the rambling comment.

  6. Very eloquently put, my dear! I too, am thankful for your Poppie, now that I've had a chance to "meet" him. A beautiful tribute to our beloved veterans, whomever and wherever they may be.
    Thank you.

  7. I, for one, would LOVE to see those piix of your "Poppy" and that plane. Can you borrow them and scan them?

  8. Thank you all for your comments...I only wish that my Poppie were still here as he would get such a kick out me telling you all his ol' stories and hearing about your bag pipe goosebumps! lol I am suprised that so many of you have scotts in you! Hearing of your grandparent's service made me all the more thankful that I was able to have my Poppie in my life for as long as I did...he lived to be 90! So he was able to tell me his stories...if only I could remember them all!!

    Stephanie- it is sure neat that your grandpa was a airplane mechanic too! My Poppie was never on a carrier (did they have them in WWII??), but I am sure he wish he could have been because he was an avid seamen.

    Natarojo- I am sorry you were not able to know your grandfather but hope that you did get to share your time with a senior at some point, they tell the best stories!!

    BECG- Thank you! It must be that tiny bit of scotts in you that gives you the chills! lol

    Laura, I encourage you to look in to it. Too often it is one of those things that we always intend to do but never end up getting done...some of these stories and bits of history become lost to time and they deserve to be remembered and carried with pride in a family. I know that many men had a different perspective than my Poppie did and could not talk about the war like he was able to b/c it was so painful for them. My heart aches for those folks. As a medic, I can only imagine the things he saw. I wish you luck with it.
    c-ingspots- Thank you!

  9. Leah- I must have been commenting at the same time as you were. I was actually going to do that today! I will probably get them up tomorrow evening. Check back, they are really neat!

  10. I love listening to Poppie need to make a file and put them in there....every last one.
    Remberance day is a proud and sad time. Sad that people died ...and proud of people like your Poppie ...Both my dad and father in law and uncles were in the 2nd world war...and my husband and I were talking and remembering yesterday day with love and pain in our hearts...
    Big Guys Mom...

  11. What an honorable tribute to a great man who obviously served his country, and his family, well.

    No Scottish blood here-at least that I know of anyway!-but I love the sound of bagpipes!

  12. I was just gentle reminded by my mother that grandpa served in the Koren War not Vietnam. She said he was too old to have served in Vietnam - but my uncle did serve Vietnam.

    My Papa was not in the service during WWII, so I don't know if they had carriers then.

    He was a Marine - mom wanted me to mention that too - so was my uncle, and his son, my cousin. Alot of pride there.

    Also have two other cousins in the Air Force. There was a lot of pressure to me to join one of the branches of the military as well, but Grandpa told me later he knew I would never do it because because there is no longer a Calvary.

  13. That was really nice. You always know how to bring me to tears. I know it isn't that hard.