My father would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011. This inspired me to publish his memoirs, which relate the story of his service in the Royal Welch Fusiliers from 1927 to 1945. They start with happy days as he learned music as a bassoonist and spent several years in the Far East. There, he witnessed the Japanese invasion of China before leaving the Army in 1938 for good, or so he thought. Unfortunately, Hitler’s war machine was just then starting to gear up. He found himself in France in 1940 and was left behind at Dunkirk to look after the wounded. He was captured and spent over three years as a prisoner-of-war in Poland where he witnessed the build-up to Operation Barbarossa. It is not the traditional story of war or prisoner-of-war camps. It is about surviving, but is also a story about his love of music, literature and of his love for his wife, my mother.
This story is gathered from his own memories and from the letters he wrote back to his wife Lucinda while a prisoner-of-war, some of which are reproduced here.Sadly, my mother’s letters in the other direction did not survive, although there is ample evidence that the letters and parcels she sent to Poland were received. It is rather strange that there was this flow of correspondence and parcels during the Second World War. It is as if the letters from my father were from someone who was on a long holiday or just simply working away from home for a while. In any other circumstance, the parcels she sent to him would have seemed a bit like sending a Christmas or birthday present from the Post Office. Of course, these were not normal circumstances and a German Stalag was no holiday camp. Despite his situation an element of humour is evident and there isn’t even a hint of anger directed at his captors.
Author of Tales of a red cross stretcher bearer