My Grandparents’ War “Keira Knightley”

Tuesday, April 18 at 8 p.m.

Keira Knightley has acted in several films about World War II yet admits she never knew much about her grandparents’ wartime experiences. In this episode, she discovers her grandfather fought in some of the Navy’s deadliest battles and her grandmother played a secret role in the D-Day landings. But both were struck by tragedy as their brothers went missing in action.

Keira’s maternal grandfather, Mac, served on the HMS Wolverine, which was sent to fight the Germans after they invaded Norway. Although the British were defeated, the crew of the Wolverine rescued around 700 Irish Guards from a nearby sinking ship. In the summer of 1942, both Mac and Keira’s grandmother Jan worked in Greenock, Scotland, preparing for the arrival of some 1.5 million American forces. Keira learns that Jan was engaged in the efforts to secretly move troops in preparation for the D-Day landings, receiving praise from her superiors.

There was one story about Keira’s grandparents that had been passed down in her family. When Glasgow was hit by Nazi planes, Mac braved the bombs to make sure he wasn’t late for a date with Jan. “This is a generation of youth that were constantly exposed to violence and the prospect of death,” said Keira. “And yet, what they managed to do may be the most important thing there is. If you’ve got a date with a girl, you grab onto that. You grab onto the excitement of life and love and laughter. Even when there is death — maybe especially when there is death falling from the sky.”

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