My grandfather caught the edge of some gas during the Battle of the Somme, and what he saw that day left him sufficiently hopeless about himself and the world that a loving husband and virtuous dentist became a drunk and a bully and a gambler. The best thing he did for his family after he came back was probably the day he left again. By the time I knew him, the anger had burned out of him and he was the sweet old man he would probably always have been.
My father had a good war, as they say. He was in the Army Medical Corps and early on was stationed on Gibralter, where he ended up as the expendable medical personnel on the Madrid supply run to the embassy, with Falangistas and German agents sniping in both directions; his time as a greengrocery trade anti-hijacker enforcer came in handy. Every so oftem in the desert and Italy, people whom he had impressed would drag him off as a pair of hands on adventures and he survived all of those, and stayed sane when he found his best friend's brains on his shoulder. He was in Yugoslavia for a while and spent his last years in dread that my nephew would be conscripted and sent there; apart from that, he almost never talked about the war - we had to put it together from the few things he did say.
I never had to fight in a war.
Of all people, Kipling said the best thing about Iraq:
I would not beg, I dared not rob
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What lies will serve me now among
My angry disappointed young.