DAD

Today. August 17,  2014. would have been his 95th birthday.
Today. August 17, 2014. would have been his 95th birthday.

My father was a Prisoner of War, captured at the fall of Tobruk, Libya, in June, 1942, probably not too long after the photograph above was taken in North Africa. I have no idea who took this picture…could have been his brother who was also there, or another friend. Like many others who were at the “sharp end” of the fighting, my father never spoke much about the war.

I remember fragments of conversations, about escape attempts, about seeing friends dying next to you, about giving German guards a hard time… but not much more than that. Also, we, the kids, didn’t ask too much about it, either. He was a POW after all, so he missed the big ones, D-Day, Sicily, Monte Casino. I think we preferred to get our war stories from the glorified heroism of the movies and comic books.

As kids, we didn’t appreciate the sacrifice made by my father, or the thousands of others captured at Tobruk, who wasted away three years of their lives behind the barbed wire of Nazi prison camps. We were dumb kids. We made no attempt to understand Dad. And, as the world changed, it seemed, looking back, that  he couldn’t get to grips with that change. But when I think about it, maybe he understood more than we gave him credit for.

I wonder what he would make of the world we inhabit today. Compared to the post-war years, the 50s and 60s, the world of today looks to me like a lunatic asylum with the lunatics running the show. But I am now older than my father was when he died, so perhaps it’s just me who doesn’t understand things.

I guess we are all prisoners of the past, no matter how much we are told to live in the present.

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4 thoughts on “DAD”

  1. That really is a very well written piece and really gives a lot of meaning to the picture. I must say I have also wondered what it would have been like to meet my Grandfather and what sort of a man he would be.

  2. Perhaps the most personally significant blog post I’ve read. I’m very sad never to have met him. In fact all bar one of my grandparents died while I was still very young.

    It’s quite possible he understood the changes going on around him. The trouble with change is that so often it’s just change, devoid of actual improvement. It sometimes feels that to embrace the “new ways” means that the time and effort spent on the “old ways” was wasted.

    What were the “old ways” in his case? Discipline, self sacrifice, prudence? Not exactly the watch words of the 60’s…..I can imagine him looking at the 60’s and thinking, “I went to war and lived in a prison camp for this?”

    Wonderful photo too. It certainly puts into perspective all the “retro filters” you can apply to your images today. Authenticity in a can. A little piece of the Greatest Generation, all at the touch of a button. I’m a generation younger and I still think it’s bollocks!

    1. Retro filters can be quite cool. but nothing is quite as cool as actual retro! And thanks for adding your observations and thoughts. Much appreciated.

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