Gary lineker, OBE and former captain of the England football team was seen on BBC One tonight embarking on an emotional and physically demanding journey in his grandfather’s footsteps to uncover his untold World War Two story. Known as one of the nation’s greatest strikers as well as his heroic part in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Gary discovered his grandad, Stanley Abbs, a war medic, is also a national hero for his role in an Italian campaign of his own. Towards the end of the one hour special, Gary was unable to contain his emotions and got choked up when he read the account of a war doctor. Those watching at home saw Gary hold back the tears and the words resonated with the events his grandfather experienced.
Like so many of his generation, Stanley was someone who didn’t speak much about what happened during the war.
During the BBC documentary, Gary spoke to historical experts and veterans to piece together Stanley’s tale.
Reading an entry from a war diary from a fellow medic, the descriptive narrative real hit home the severity of the conditions and environment the soldiers had to endure.
“I’ve found an account written by a doctor in the same field ambulance unit as my grandfather, 185th field ambulance,” Gary told the camera.
'Truly horrific’ Gary Lineker in tears as he relives his Grandad's World War II footsteps
“The actual doctor that was with them of the crossing here on the River Rapido.”
BBC One viewers then saw Gary read a segment from the diary entry where it discussed the “ear-splitting, shattering noise” of war as well as the harsh reality of being unable to mourn for their fellow men.
“‘A man drops beside me, dead, forgotten in a split second of time. We have no business with the dead, he is nothing.’” Gary told.
“‘The enemy poured machine gun and mortar fire onto both banks of the river and bombs were falling into the blood stained stream itself.’
“‘Within very few hours, all the boats had been destroyed or washed away, spilling their heavily laden occupants into the water to die of their wounds or to drown,’” he concluded.
Taking off his glasses, Gary simply muttered: “Sh*t.”
Unable to put together a sentence he turned around and stared out to the river.
“It kind of brings it to life a little bit,” he explained.
“It’s crazy, I can’t imagine what they went through.”
After several moments of relocation and deep thought, Gary said: “I suppose being here, where, my Grandad would’ve been is kind of made it all the more personal.
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“It was the doctors account that kinda did me, it brought it to life - or death which ever way you want to look at it.
“And shows how, from a witness, someone who was right there with my grandad at one point, there’s no question about that, how truly awful it was,” he added.
“They had to live in the moment. Someone who died, was worth nothing, you had to forget about them.
“Thousands of people here who were so unbelievably brave and they haven’t had the credit they deserve.