My dad, the spy

February 8, 2012

I was about 11 and we were on holiday in Madeira, having dinner – my dad, my mum, my sister and me. I don’t know what led up to it but I must have asked my dad what he’d done when he was in the army – although he worked for an oil company, he had told us he’d been in the army when he was a young man. And he replied, in hushed tones: ‘I was a spy.’

Of course my sister and I laughed, especially when my mum said she’d been a spy too. Over the years I didn’t really think too much about it; it was just one of those things dads say to their kids, right? And then a few years ago when I was researching our family tree I discovered I could get hold of my dad’s army records.

(Doing your family tree is a brilliant way to get to the truth of family stories by the way – should you want to, of course; for example, I discovered that my grandfather was definitely not born on a Slow Boat To China as family legend had it; but one of his cousins did die on the Lusitania.)

Anyway, I sent off for my dad’s papers and they revealed all kinds of fascinating stuff; like the fact he’d joined up when he was 14 (in 1944, what were they thinking of?!) and that he’d spent quite a lot of his service in the Middle East Forces.

And there it was, in black and white. My dad was in the signals regiment. And yes, he did codebreaking.

OK, he wasn’t James Bond or anything, but he was and still is a hero to me.

(By the way this photo only came into my possession last year. My dad had grey hair from the age of 18, something I’ve inherited. I love this photo.)

*This is my entry for this week’s Gallery – the theme is family stories.

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  • Rebecca February 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Brilliant that you found out the truth but how sad you couldn’t talk to him about it.

  • LauraCYMFT February 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Such a sweet photo!

  • Erica Price February 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Lovely picture.

  • Herding Cats February 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Wow! What a fabulous story!

  • Emily (@amummytoo) February 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Love that photo! I agree about family trees. We’ve only just started ours and we’re learning so much already. I doubt there are any spies among us though 🙂

  • Alice Treherne February 8, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I love that photo! And such a great story.

  • Shell Louise February 8, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Great story and lovely photo.
    I must do our family tree one day. It must be facinating to find out all these things about your family.

  • Helen Spencer February 8, 2012 at 9:56 am

    That’s fab. The grey hair is very unusual! Amazing what our parents keep from us because they don’t think it’s very interesting!!!

    You might be interested in my Uncle’s war stories – also only recently discovered – just follow Blog link

  • Funky Wellies February 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

    LOVE your story! Great photo of your Dad, is he holding you?

    • Liz Jarvis February 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Yes it’s me in the photo x

  • sian February 8, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Is that you in the pic too?
    What a great story. Yan always tells the children that he used to be a ballet dancer…. they will never find confirmation of that!

  • dorkymum February 8, 2012 at 8:38 am

    What a lovely, lovely story. And what a great photo – I still think of that post you did last year with the photo of your dad as a wee boy and his head turned away from the camera. Old family photos are brilliant – I’m glad you’ve got this one now.