Dear Ms Cyclefree
fascinating to read about your father - as an amateur (sometime doctoral candidate) historian with an interest in matters WW2 and RAF, his exploits are interesting in and of themselves. Even more so in the context of a Republic of Ireland background. I'm not meaning to pry, and of course you have no compulsion to answer, but which tradition are your family from?
Mrs Tabman's parents are both Dubliners, so I have some experience of Irish affairs at second hand. Your comment about your father looking after his youngest sibling resonated, as I've heard my father in law speak many times about the "Irish Pension" (four sons, as well as two daughters).
In my own family both grandfathers fought in WW1. One was a humble ASC private, the other a cavalry officer with an MC (albeit a "temporary gentleman"). I just wish I could have spoken to them. What stories they would have told. As it was, I can recall tales of my great Uncle who served in Palestine.