Rhona Johnsen sent me these interesting photos adding, “Reading your posts about wartime Blantyre I wanted to tell you the story of my great Aunt Grace. Born in 1913 as Grace Mains (father Robert Maxwell Mains and mother Helen Sorbie).
She married William Stevenson Graham who was killed in the Second World War in the final push against the German army in February 1945 aged 30. He is buried in the Reichswald forest cemetery in Germany. My husband and I visited his grave in June this year and here are photos showing Aunt Grace visiting the grave in the 1940’s when there was only a wooded cross. Another photo of the stone in 1954. Uncle Bill was in the Cameronian regiment. He is buried with his troop of 18 and 19 year old boys around him.
Aunt Grace was a widow for the rest of her life and lived in the family home at 73 Morris Crescent in Blantyre until aged 93.”
William Graham was a Blantyre man. He died in operation Veritable on 22nd February 1945. Noticing he died just a few months before the European war ended is so tragic. Fighting was particularly fierce in Germany in those last few weeks before the Allies took Berlin. With so few actual soldiers left, young men and very old were recruited by German militia to fight in what was “all out war”.
Pictured also in February 1945 are the British Troops moving through that forrest during this battle. 400,000 UK and Canadian troops took on 90,000 Germans. The fighting was tough despite those numbers but the allies pushed through and prevailed though suffered heavy casualties. Eventually the Germans withdrew blowing up their bridges on their retreat.