My Grandparents’ War – C4

Actress Kristin Scott Thomas reveals the courage of her grandfather, including how he rescued men from Dunkirk, in this week’s My Grandparents’ War on C4

Kristin Scott Thomas tells the extraordinary story of her grandfather, Lieutenant Commander William Scott Thomas, who served as a captain in the Royal Navy throughout World War Two, in this week’s My Grandparents’ War on C4.

In May 1940, HMS Impulsive, his ship, was one of the very first at Dunkirk, rescuing 2,919 soldiers as bombs and machine-gun fire rained down.

Kristin never spoke to her grandfather about the war, but she discovers the crucial role he played in many dangerous missions, from laying thousands of mines at sea to stop a German invasion, to delivering soldiers to the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day landings in 1944.

This is a remarkable film about a brave and resilient man and Kristin is quite rightly hugely moved and proud of her grandfather. 

‘My siblings and I 
have grown up with this mystery of 
our grandfather.

‘Because my father died when I was six years old, there wasn’t anybody to tell us,’ she explains.

‘But 
as a young child, 
I absolutely adored my grandfather.

‘He was a really sweet, lovely man.’

William and wife Mary My Grandparents’ War

Kristin Scott Thomas’ grandad William and wife Mary, as seen in My Grandparents’ War on C4

Kristin finally learns the truth about the war her grandfather fought in and the terrors he was forced to confront, including his part in Dunkirk.

‘My grandfather’s report reveals that he made four trips over four days with very little rest,’ says Kristin.

‘You’re watching the bombs come down and you’re dodging them in this massive 
ship.

‘It must have been relentless.’

Later in the war, William became part of the Arctic convoys, transporting supplies and weapons through dangerous and icy waters to Russia, before taking part in D-Day.

‘It was his last major operation.

‘Aged 41, he’d survived some of the Navy’s most devastating battles,’ says Kristin.

‘It makes sense now thinking about how quiet he was.

‘How on Earth can your family begin to understand what you’ve been through?’

For full listings, see our TV Guide.

TV Times rating: *****