The Stories We Never Hear

I just finished viewing this documentary, about a bunch of elite British Commandos who executed an amazingly brave (stupid?) and strategically incredibly important raid on a dock controlled by the Germans. The raid was so successful because it was “impossible”, and so brave, it has been called “the greatest raid of all time”.

The documentary did increase my awareness of the people who we barely hear about – the people on the front-lines, the ones protecting our borders and our shores.

But even more than that, what struck me was the absolutely unbelievably simple and common lives that these incredibly brave men went on to live. And how easily these men, who are now either dead or in their eighties and nineties, spoke about that night at St. Nazaire, about an extraordinary night that probably definitely changed the future of the world.

These couple of hundred men, who had studied psychology, french literature, art and architecture, amongst others, would go on to wreak havoc amongst thousands of German soldiers on that night, and infuriate Hitler so much that he passed an order to shoot all Commandos in the future, treating them as “spies”. And then go on to live lives such that today, if you met them on the street, you would probably call them “Grandpa” (if you were of that kind) or “that-silly-old-fool-who-cant-cross-the-street-fast-enough-and-I-have-to-honk-8-times-before-he-lets-my-car-pass” (if you were what I think would be normal today).

I recently lost my grandfather. He was 75 years old. Which means he lived through the World War 2. He lived through the Indo-Sino conflict. He would have been affected by the Chinese invasion, which reached upto Tezpur (some 300 kms south-east of where I know he settled down). Knowing my grandfather, which of course is very little, he would probably have been involved in the evacuation efforts. We never really spoke about it, but I know he had participated in many protests, marches and humanitarian efforts.

Now, all those stories are gone, probably forever.

  • Very well put man, every individual we pass on the street is a collection of such amazing surprising stories, something hard to believe but completely true.

    • Anonymous


      I just remembered a ride with an auto-driver, who drove his auto from 5am to 9am everyday and on the weekends, went to office at a bank as a clerk from 10 to 5, and then drive again in the evening. He did this for 25 years. His kids are now in the US (one is a doctor, the other is an engineer) and the third was in medical school when I met him.

      Fascinating stories are all around us.

  • Btw i saw the documentary uve mentioned here, boy were those british commandos tough, they were ordered to cross the spanish border to get to safety and 5 of them actually made it, boy now thats what a real rambo is abt!