War Hero In My Family

Chris Tarrant reflects on Episode 1

Chris reflects on his experiences filming War Hero In My Family and how it felt to uncover the emotional story his father had never fully shared.

Chris Tarrant reflects on Episode 1

Dad was my best friend all through my growing years, and we became even closer once I'd had kids of my own.

We laughed and fished and drank, and talked about anything and everything, except for one taboo area: his experiences in World War II.

I knew he'd been at Dunkirk and the D-Day Landings in Normandy, and I knew he'd won the Military Cross, but he was of that generation who just didn’t talk about it.

It was only when Toby, my own son, started to ask his grandpa what he did during the war that he started to open up about just a few things, but he still only provided very sketchy details.

It was only when Channel 5 contacted me and offered to help find out a lot more about dad's war that I saw any real hope of learning any real detail. And what I did learn during the making of War Hero In My Family only served to make me love and respect him so much more.

I learnt about the horrors of the D-Day Landings and how The Royal Berkshire regiment became the Royal Wiltshires because the Wilts were all but wiped out.

As an infantry officer fighting his way into France, Holland and then into Germany as Hitler's troops retreated back over the Rhine, what he saw was tarrying and brutal.

I learnt exactly how and where he won the Military Cross; the fighting to hold Nymegen Bridge, the gateway to Arnhem.

I learnt about the savage hand-to-hand, house-to-house, bayonet fighting they had to do to survive the massive battle at Cleve.

I saw the exact spot where he was blown up on a landmine just three weeks before the end of the war.

I learnt so much about my own dear father that he simply never ever talked about, not to me and not even to mum. It was a fascinating but raw emotional journey.