Showing posts from November, 2023

With a Shovel and a Pick and a Little White Stick

Grandma & Grandad, c.1940-43 There are a lot of misconceptions about history. One that I frequently encounter regarding the two World Wars of the 20th century, is that men were either classified as fighting fit and sent to armed combat overseas, or classified unfit for service and stayed at home. I’ve never seen a historical drama that represents my Grandad’s experience in the Pioneer Corps during World War II. Luckily, the family still has photos and documents from the time, which help tell his story. And I’m lucky to have Grandad’s own words, in the transcript of an interview I did for a school project in the 1980s. So, here is the story of my Grandad, and many other men like him. David Macrae Cumming was born in 1916 in Lochore, Fife, and moved with his family to Sunderland following the General Strike of 1926. He was an intelligent boy, who got a scholarship to grammar school, but was not allowed to take it up. As the eldest son, his father wanted him to work in the family hair