My great grandfather on my dad’s side, Stanley Archbold, fought in the second world war. More specifically, he was one of the soldiers who fought on D-Day and was lucky enough to make it out alive. After it was all over, one of the few things he had as evidence that he was there was a single compass he found lying on the beach. The compass was a Luftwaffe paratroopers wrist compass, model AK39. It was manufactured in Germany during the war, and was used by people such as paratroopers and pilots. Aside from the obvious use of a compass, it is also completely filled with water, aside from a single bubble. The bubble is meant to show how level you are in relation to the ground, as that is easy to lose track of while parachuting. Stanley probably took it as a reminder of the events that happened that day.
Fig 1. A picture of the watch that my great grandfather found on the beach. The front was used for direction and position to the ground, and the bottom could be moved, illuminating the front at night. (Shown on left)
Regrettably, this is the event that I could find the least information on. I found it fascinating, but there were very few primary sources left to take from. The only ones I could find were what my dad managed to learn, a few pictures, and the compass that my great grandfather eventually gave to my dad. The actual event is so significant because it changed Stanley’s life permanently. You hear about the horrors of war, but it is impossible to imagine what it would be like to be on ground zero of one of the most brutal battles of one of the most brutal wars in history. Aside from what my dad was able to find out, this compass is pretty much the extent of my knowledge to what happened that day. Despite numerous attempts, my dad could never get his grandfather to talk about it. Even story the compass itself is very vague. He said he found it on the beach. No details. Because of this, having an idea of perspective is hard. Along with having no living sources and the fact that it’s also something I personally can’t relate to, made this a very hard topic to write about. I can only guess how it made him feel. The way Stanley acted afterwards and the story of this compass are the very embodiment of the pain war brings. To this day, the affect it had on him still resonates with my dad. As for how much it affected him, I don’t know, but it definitely changed the way he views the world.
Fig 2. Stan with his with his wife Irene. (Shown on right)