You wouldn’t believe why my grandson doubts my sanity.
‘What did you do in the war, granddad?’
I looked down at my grandson, about to snap, ‘I’m only 68, not 98!’ and then realised, to an eight-year-old, anyone passed middle age must be ancient and had to have fought at Trafalgar.
His question, I suppose, arose from all the news about Dunkirk on the television.
The end of General Patton’s speech on the war came back to me but I quashed that thought for obvious reasons.
‘I was in the Green Paint Division,’ I told him with a straight face.
‘Aw granddad, didn’t you fight?’ disappointment clear in his voice.
Another comment came back to me, this time from my dad. ‘I fought and I fought but they stuck me in the navy anyway.’
‘Of course. We were an anti-submarine squadron. I was on a destroyer.’
‘What, with those depth-charge things?’ making blowing-up noises and wild motions with his arms.
‘No. We had big anti-aircraft guns and gallons and gallons of green paint.’
Nicholas looked confused. He might only have been eight but he was far more clever than I had ever been in my heyday. ‘How did that work, granddad?’
‘When we detected a submarine, we would sail in circles above it spraying a thick layer of green paint on the sea. When the submarine came up to periscope depth to see where we were to torpedo us, the green pain would coat the lens of the periscope and he couldn’t tell where he was, so he kept coming up. We waited until he was about 10m in the air and then shot him down with our AA guns.’
From the look on his face, I wonder if my grandson will ever believe anything I say ever again!