Armed Forces Day: Read three incredible accounts from our wartime heroes


This week 25th June marks Armed Forces Day in the UK; the annual event where we commemorate the bravery of Britain’s war veterans who fought for our country. Without their efforts, life would look a lot different today. Most of what we know about our country – the foundations that build a central part of our historical knowledge – derive from the detailed first-hand accounts of those who witnessed our war-torn country. But what happens when those people are no longer around to tell their version of history?

The nation’s leading biography-writing service, StoryTerrace, has helped countless veterans and war heroes document their life stories – including individuals that were able to do so themselves, as well as family members who chose to do so on their behalf – so that their legacies are preserved for future generations.

This week, the memoir-writing service pays tribute to those who fought, defended against and witnessed the war, and have since had their incredible accounts penned with StoryTerrace – offering insight into the stories yet unheard.

Meet Cara de Vert Champ, who found her grandfather’s diary documenting his experience being imprisoned at Dunkirk for four years:
To his grandchildren, Roy Dempster Waters was simply “Grandpa Pop”, an affable gentleman living quietly in the Sussex countryside.

It was only through the discovery of his wartime diaries that his family discovered the astonishing story of four harrowing years that he spent as a prisoner of the war during World War II after being captured at Dunkirk. Provided with meagre rations in harsh conditions and losing many of his comrades, it was his bravery, forbearance and good humour that helped him emerge from the horrors of the war relatively unscathed.

Kenneth Mills’ story as told by his daughter, Paulette Brisker:
Paulette wanted to write a book about how the Second World War impacted her father’s life. She hopes her grandchildren and their children will appreciate his story. His war stories included battling the Russians and being on the first ship in Penang when the Japanese surrendered.

After the war, her father worked mainly in West Africa where she herself grew up. He moved around Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria before finishing up his career in Malaysia. Through those stories, Paulette wants to tell her father’s account, including how he met her mother and their lives together living in various countries.

“My father enlisted the day war broke out – he was 19 years old. He joined the Royal Marines and was part of the Atlantic and Arctic convoys. He was even part of the landing party that took the Japanese surrender in Penang. In his last ten years, he told us stories of what happened. War changed his life and started his adventures in life to Africa, Malaysia, the Island of Nauru in the Pacific and Australia. ”

When Paulette was asked about her experience documenting her father’s life story, she said: “My experience in documenting my father’s life was truly amazing. I was contacted by one of the ghostwriters who listened to all my stories and wrote them beautifully, and accurately brought my words to life in the way my father would have wanted.”

Gerard Volmer: who led a Nazi resistance group in the Second World War, and had a direct impact on the creation of StoryTerrace:

During the Second World War, Gerard lived in the countryside in the Dutch province of Zeeland, where he led a resistance group to defy Nazi occupation. Prior to the war, he’d trained as a doctor and later became a reserve officer in the army. He would tell his grandson of his experiences setting up a resistance group skilled in sabotaging the Nazi soldiers, sinking 800kg of explosives, and later getting married and having children during the war. He told his grandson, Rutger Bruining, CEO/Founder of StoryTerrace his stories of the war before he died. Rutger was just 18 and expresses regret at not recording these incredible stories in more detail at the time.

Rutger Bruining, Founder and CEO of StoryTerrace, discusses how hearing his father’s wartime stories inspired him to start his business:

“As we go about our daily lives, it is far too easy to forget the sacrifices that those on the front-line made for the benefit of our society today. On Remembrance Day, I encourage everyone to reflect on the efforts of our veterans and to dig a little deeper into the past histories of our families who may have some stories to pass down to future generations.

“When I founded the business, I was inspired by my grandfather and the fascinating stories he told me about his time in the war. He passed away when I was 18, a year during which I had spent less time with him, which I regretted. I also regretted not having recorded the stories that he told me.

“The more people who know about their families and where they come from, their parents etc, the better world we will be living in. To have stories that last centuries.”

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