- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mr. Alec James Morely, Mr. James William Squires (uncle)
- Location of story:
- Ancaster, nr. Grantham, Lincolnshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 31 October 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by Louise Angell of the CSV Action Desk at BBC Radio Derby on behalf of Alec James Morley. The author understands the sites terms and conditions.
At a very early hour my uncle would rise to tend to his farm and soon afterwards awaken me. Together we would get into his small bedford lorry. After a short journey into the Lincolnshire countryside we would pull up outside a high wire fence surrounding a group of dismal looking huts.
The year was 1944. I was seven years old and spending my summer holiday with my relatives. The place we had driven to, so early was a german P.O.W camp and my uncle was to collect six or seven ex members of the Wehrmacht, to work on his farm. Not wanting them, he did not relish this. Indeed there was not a lot they could do and they required constant supervision - but he was compelled, by the authorities, to keep them occupied.
Just a small boy, accustomed to the cinema newsreels at that time, it amazed me that there was no armed guard with them. It was only later, when I was older, I learned that, to a man, they were all heartily glad to be safe and secure in an English prison camp: with regular meals, free from the discomforts of the battlefield and allowed out to do relatively light work in the fresh air, with the added attraction of being able to poach rabbits and whistle and shout at the girls in the villages we passed through. Six of the POW's climbed in the back of the truck, the remaining one, a corporal, getting into the cab with my uncle and I. Because the tiny Bedford was strictly a two seater, the German N.C.O promptly picked me up and settled me on his lap. I sat there rigid with shyness and terror. My aunt hated the germans and often regaled me with stories of atrocities committed by the nazis, stories which the news programmes were then reporting. here was I, I thought, in very close contact with, what might be one of them. This routine continued each day for weeks, the corporal trying hard, with his limited English to become friendly with me but I was very stubborn and resisted fraternisation.
On the last morning of my holiday as we set off, once more, for the farm, he tried again to get me to speak to him. he pulled from his pocket a small, model aeroplane, carved in wood from the solid. This he gave to me saying "ein flungzeung" (an aeroplane) "for you". I took it but fear and shyness prevented me from replying. Even now I regret that I did not thank him for what had obviously been many hours work, probably sitting before the stove in the evenings, in his prison barracks. perhaps I remined him of a son back home, or maybe a brother, sister or other relative of my age. Possibly he was lonely and thought of loved ones far away, wondering if, in the chaos of those times, they were suffering a fate unknown to him. He perservered with me, pointing to the little model. "Ein flungzeug" he repeated. However, I still sat quiet and hung my head. Then, in desperation, as though to finally get me to accept his gift, he cried, "Fur sie. Es ist einer Spitfire." (For you. It's a Spitfire)!
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