All posts tagged POW

Mon Jan. 3 10.15 PM [1944]

It is time we were in bed. Father is on watch until 12 o’c and Jean is “doing” her hair ie to say putting curlers in. I seem to have had a busy evening. First I knitted the welt and started thumb of P.O.W. gloves (2nd glove) which I have neglected rather since having ‘flu’. I also started back of my blue Cardigan. Then I cut out paper pattern of elephant, don’t think it will be so difficult as “Scottie”, mended my vest, and sewed a seam-rent in a pillow-case. I washed Jean’s hair and combed it when dry and put ointment on. Also did a bit of quilting on Rene’s 2nd slipper, will really try to get them finished. Have read a little too, and skimmed the paper, and put a new loop on kettle holder. A varied evening!

Sirdar Helmet and Glove Knitting Pattern

Sirdar Helmet and Glove Knitting Pattern

Wrote to Ron and Dennis yesterday but not posted letters yet. Den. is at Stratford-on-Avon. He sent me a Xmas card. Jean wrote an A.M.Letter to Ron too. Had a letter from Sybil A[dams] this morning, says Pat. loves the dog. Syb. thinks the dog very nice and says if she had not known I had made it would have thought it was a shop one, or words to that effect. Rather like Ron when he said a cake I had made was as good as a bought one! Still I expect they both meant it as a compliment. It has been wet nearly all day. Rene collected part of Red + pennies and Nursing money, then gave up and came for dinner, she did not start out again as rain turned from blustering showers to steady rain. She had a cup of tea about 4 o’c and then went home. Father has been to Sk[egness] twice to-day. He got £1.7.6 as he brought T. Stone’s daughter and someone to Hogs[thorpe] on his last return journey so made it almost a double one.

Planes are droning around, wonder if they are just going out, they sound strangely like those we used to call “wuffers”. 4 were shot down London way last night. Some damage done and a few casualties. Heard a recording of Montgomery’s speech tonight, his farewell to the Eighth Army. He is in England now to be head of the British part of invasion Army under General Eisenhower. It was an inspiring speech. He is a fine good man. Russians within 15 miles of old Polish frontier in one place, but still a long way from Ger tho’ they are driving Gers before them in many sectors of the fighting. Moscow’s guns were fired in salute again tonight. Churchill is convalescent, and F.D.R. [Roosevelt] has influ[enza] now. It must be the second time as I remember when Den. was in Scotland he was in hospital with it and F.D.R. had it too. A lot of people have had it twice in England too. It is waning rapidly now but Drs say the dangerous days are not over yet. It has not been particularly cold today. Sprogg has a cough, Jean is going to buy “Tibs” for both cats.

Knitting for Prisoners of War was possibly for German prisoners in England – or for inclusion in parcels (mainly food) sent by the Red Cross to British servicemen held in Germany. The nearest POW camp was in Bilsby from where prisoners were allowed to make and sell small items such as wooden toys.

‘Seam-rent’ probably meant a torn seam in the pillow case.

‘Nursing money’ was presumably payment or ‘expenses’ for nursing work undertaken by Rene or Red Cross colleagues.

Field Marshal Montgomery’s farewell speech to men of the 8th Army was given in Italy.

Tom (‘Tally’) Stones was a retired blacksmith of Hogsthorpe (succeeded by his son, Arthur).

US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was well known for his broadcast ‘Fireside Chats‘.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Fri. 29 Oct 8.20 a.m [1943]

The fog has persisted all the week. Think it will clear to-day. On Wed it cleared a few hours in the middle of the day and the clothes finished drying. I had put a fire in room as I did not think it would clear but as soon as I had got a [clothes-] horse-full round fire the sun broke thro’! I put sheets and heavy things out and everything was dry by dinner time and ironed before tea. Keith and Marian came on Thur aft. Also Lau[rence] who had travelled by night to get an extra day at home. He walked in before 8 a.m. to his mother’s surprise. Mary came with them but would not stay tea. Marian’s brother is in India now. He was in N.A. [North Africa] last year when Ron was. He has been hurt or wounded. He does not tell them what happened, only they are not to worry. He is out of hospital and on crutches now. Lau. has a stripe, he is in office work. He amused himself on piano for an hour or more after tea. Jean did not get much homework done. Keith and Marian chuckled over Nip. Ann [Nipper Annual] part of the time. She does her hair in the fashionable roll now. It is so pretty it looks nice however she does it. I had a letter from Frank Lewis’s new wife on Wed and a large piece of bride’s cake which was very good.

A lot of prisoners have been exchanged with Gers this week, the wounded of course. How pleased they will be to get home. They all say the Red + is a marvellous institution and that they would fare badly but for its care. We must give all we can to it. It does one good to read about the selfless actions amongst the prisoners. When one ship docked a man ran to the side and called “Cynthia”. A woman on quay-side answered and scores of men took up the cry. It seems she was taken prisoner in France whilst lorry driving and in the camp where she was interned she tended and nursed the sick and wounded. She is a cousin of Earl of Southesk. Then there is Viscount Normanton who thro’ the Red + got materials sent to him and taught 15 blind men to read Braille. Above all there is the major who would not come home, he is an ophthalmic surgeon and spends all his time operating and doctoring men whose eyes are injured. The Gers. have been very good in giving him facilities for doing this, and he wrote home to his wife for his case of instruments which was despatched and received. He has a wife and three bonny children yet altho’ he could have come home he elected to remain a prisoner so that he can continue to help his wounded, blinded fellow prisoners. He has already helped many back to sight again. He had written to his wife some time since to tell her he should not come this time. In spite of her disappointment, how proud she must feel and what a noble heritage to hand down to his children. All honour to those and countless more we shall never know of who imitate their Master who “went about doing good”.

[Aside: Household coal supply to be cut down again so must be extra careful.] Yesterday we posted Ron’s parcel and sincerely hope he gets it. Rene and I had both been wishing we could include cakes. As she said, “you don’t get the taste of home so well out of razor blades and soap etc.” However, we are not allowed to send anything eatable and of course they are not in need of it. Tom sent him a new pack of cards like those he gave us last year and we put a new face-flannel in and thread etc. Persil as he has to do his own washing, night-lights in a tin in case they melted. We sewed it up in a cotton covering over the paper one after packing them in a cardboard box. Letters have to be posted before Nov. 10. so must write to Jock again.

Frank Lewis, nephew, son of Jesse and Emily (May’s sister), had married Alice.

11th Earl of Southesk, Lord Carnegie, was related, by marriage, to the Royal family.

Lieutenant the Marquess of Normanby, of the Green Howards (not ‘Viscount Normanton’) and Major David Charters, Royal Army Medical Corps, an ophthalmic surgeon, were both prisoners of war who became attached to the German ‘POW Centre for the Blind’ at Kloster Haina.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

July 23/ 43.
The Captive.

All’s over then, the battle lost, and I

A “prisoner of war” in Alien hands.

My misery, and sorely wounded pride too deep for tears or words.

I sit and watch their reinforcements landing on my native soil.

My aching wounds and heavy heart,

In deep despair, await the order to embark,

And sail away in a prison ship to a prison camp.

Oh! Little home, I see thee now,

My wife and dark-eyed baby girl and little son,

Receding from my sight for many a day.

I leave thee now and I must wait,

In impotence, with idle hands,

While war’s deep waves roll ever nearer thee;

And haply may engulf thee in its tide.

I speak no word, I cannot. Deep despair

Has fallen on me, body and soul are one great mound of poignant misery.

Soon, I shall rise and lift my heavy load, to bear it like a man but now,

I watch the conquering foe come in.

My heart is bleeding inwardly, I see there go,

Lost hopes, lost battle and most bitter blow, lost liberty.

My cup of woe is full, I live not, but endure.

‘Italian, Captive and UNhappy’ in the Daily Mail, Friday July 23rd 1943.

‘Italian, Captive and UNhappy’ in the Daily Mail, Friday July 23rd 1943.

Following their victorious North African campaign, the Allies had turned their attention to Italy. May’s son Ron was  amongst many RAF and other military personnel who were transferred from North Africa to Italy.

‘The Captive’, an original draft, was inspired by an item ‘Italian, Captive and UNhappy’ in the Daily Mail, Friday July 23rd 1943.

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?