Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s War airs this week on the Beeb.
“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.” – Gary Lineker
In Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s Untold War, a one hour film for BBC One, the football pro turned sports presenter explores a brutal but often overlooked chapter.
The Italian campaign played a key part in the Allies’ victory in WW2 but whilst Gary is aware that his grandad served in Italy as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, he knows little more as his grandfather never talked to him about that time.
To discover the true story behind his grandad’s war experiences and better understand the importance of this campaign, Gary travels to Italy. Using Stanley’s unit’s War Diary as a guide, he follows the Italian campaign – from the first landings at Salerno which nearly ended in disaster, to the seemingly endless months of gruelling fighting over mountains and through torrential rivers.
Along his journey he meets veterans from the Italian campaign, including 104 year-old William Earl who, like Gary’s grandad, was in the Royal Army Medical Corps. William shares his vivid memories of battling to save soldiers under fire. As Gary learns just how relentless and grim the battle was, he comes to understand why his grandfather never shared what must have been harrowing memories.
Despite their heroic fighting, the Italian veterans later became known as ‘D-Day dodgers’ and Gary wants to know why. He learns that the soldiers self-deprecatingly embraced the label, penning a song that made fun of the term. He discovers how their story was overshadowed by the D-Day landings, which happened the day after the Allies in Italy took Nazi occupied Rome.
As he finds out about the huge sacrifices the Italian veterans made and how much they endured, Gary is determined to make sure they receive the recognition they deserve, and that their huge contribution is never forgotten.
Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s Untold War airs on BBC One at 9pm on November 11th.
“Gary is one of the country’s most popular presenters and this is a fascinating chance to explore the war through his grandfather’s unique experiences. This documentary will show how individuals lives can be changed forever by global conflicts and yet when they return home their sacrifice is too easily forgotten.” – Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content