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15 October 2014
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The man in the red stripe suit

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Isabel Atkinson, Herbert Frederick Atkinson
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Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 July 2005

My husband was in the Artillery and stationed in North Africa. One day a local police man came knocking on the door to tell me he had been captured by the Germans and was now a prisoner of war (POW). He was being held in a stalag (German prison).

He and his troops had been hiding in the mountains when the Germans approached them. My husband threw his gun over the hill into some rocks to smash the gun up so the Germans couldn’t use it against him. The Germans caught them (but not their weapons) and took them off to Italy. Italy fell and the prisoners were sent to Germany.

After two and a half years they were taken on the death march across Germany when the Americans came in and rescued the prisoners. My husband was sent back to the UK, to Lydd were he was checked over. He was given a navy suit with a red stripe and a trilby hat and put on the train home to Sidcup. I went to meet my husband from the station on my bike. He had been away for 3 years and our daughter was now 3 years and 3 months old. He had missed her formative years. When we got back to the house my daughter ran out to greet this unfamiliar man in the red striped suit.

“Are you my daddy?” she asked. “Yes, darling” he replied.
“Well, you’d better come in then”. Her long lost father had returned and so the reunion began.

This story was submitted to the People's War website by Milly Hartley on behalf of Isabel Atkinson and has been added with her permission. Isobel fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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