Monday 13 August 2012

Referencing Rudyard*

That's it, then. The Stalag Luft 3 story's written and sent, and it's on to the next thing now. I had thought that 3000 words was going to be luxuriously expansive, but in the end I had to leave out so much: the horrible fates of the Resistance fighters, the cruel Long March before liberation, the desperately sad epilogue concerning Dad's youngest brother Mike (and if you're interested in hearing that story, *O Best Beloved, you'll have to ask for it in the comments). Probably though, there's only so much tragedy a reader can be expected to take in with their cup of coffee.

Just before I leave the subject - the helpful man who located those amazing photos of the plane for me also sent some papers that we didn't have, one of them a photocopy of a Top Secret document, which was rather exciting. It was the 'General Questionnaire for British/American Ex-Prisoners of War' and one of the sections Dad had to fill in was 'Did you suffer from any serious illnesses while a P/W?'

His answer included: 'Suffered colds due to defective nose. Nose hit badly in football at Sagan in 1942.' He did have a largish schnoz, and it's not surprising that it got in the way of a football - but I do think it's quite funny that I travelled to Stalag Luft 3 using business class aeroplanes, luxury river boats and first class trains, but walked around the compound with my arm in a sling, still in considerable pain from my dislocated shoulder. Meanwhile, Dad crash-landed in the sea, was on the run for 6 weeks, a guest of the Gestapo for 3 months and a prisoner of war for over three years, and all he got was some sniffles and a bruised nose. (Not that I'm complaining, of course.)

By the way, that form also has a section headed 'ESCAPES attempted: Did you make any attempted or partly successful escapes? (Give details of each attempt separately, stating where, when, method employed, names of your companions, where and when recaptured and by whom. Were you physically fit? What happened to your companions?)' And after all that, a four-line space.

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