It’s November 11th, an important day in history not just for Europe but all around the world. It is Remembrance Day, marking the end of the First World War at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918 and paying tribute to those who lost their lives.

But this day does not just commemorate the First World War, but the Second too, the Falklands War, the Gulf War, and conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To mark Remembrance Day, a series of specials are being broadcast on Monday, November 11th 2019. One of such special episodes is Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s War on BBC One.

So, who was Gary Lineker’s grandfather, Stanley?

Stanley Abbs, Gary Lineker’s grandfather, during World War Two. – (C) Brinley Abbs – Photographer: Unknown

Who was Stanley Abbs?

Stanley Abbs was a World War II veteran. He had served as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Italian campaign.

When he signed up to the war, Stanley was just a greengrocer’s assistant and had no background in either military or medicine. And so he started as a nursing orderly (NO), which is the lowest rank of the Royal Army Medical Corps. But this job is far from easy. In fact, it involved carrying the injured in stretchers across a battlefield – no easy feat!

Stanley was involved in the Italian branch of the Allies’ military efforts. There was a backlash against them after the war was over and many of the soldiers were branded ‘D-Day Dodgers’.

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The Italian campaign

Stanley was deployed in the Allied invasion of mainland Italy. He was first sent to Salerno in 1943, a coastal town which had become a major war zone. While in combat, Stanley’s unit treated 1,839 casualties.

Stanley was also involved in the Italian campaign when the Allies captured Rome on June 4th, 1944. But again, this event was overshadowed by the D-Day landings, as they occurred just two days later.

Much of the events of the Italian campaigns and the veterans who served there have been overlooked in history and by society. This is what Gary was seeking to rectify with his one-off documentary.

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What did Gary say about his grandfather?

The documentary saw Gary Lineker follow in the footsteps of Stanley and experience what it would have been like for him during the wartime years. It inevitably hit the footballing star in an unprecedented way, as he experienced the harsh realities his grandfather hid from him.


Gary said in the film: “I feel a lot of emotions… the one overriding one, I think, is one of pride. If one thing comes out of this more than anything else, it’s that we give respect to those that were here as much as we do to those that were in other places.”

He continued: “My grandfather never talked to me about the war, but I’ve since discovered a little about what happened to him and his colleagues. This made me curious to discover more. Seventy five years on, it’s important that we don’t forget the lessons and horrors of war.”





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