August: a dahlia and 2 wartime snippets by quietpurplehaze

August: a dahlia and 2 wartime snippets

from my dad, Bert Martin's PoW diaries:

August '42: PoW camp, in Benghazi, Libya

"The South African black troops used to go out on fatigues on the docks every day and were able to procure wood for fires and some extra food. One day white troops were allowed and I thought I would go to try and get a little food or anything that might be going. I did not feel much like work and I certainly did very little whilst out on the docks. I went out on Tues 11-8-42 from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and had a profitable day.

The white troops only went out for 2 or 3 days on account of the little work done by them. On my day spent on fatigues on Benghazi docks I managed to scrounge some wood for our fire. This was valuable as we used to have to buy wood off the South African troops with cigarettes.

I was given a cigarette or two by some Germans and one gave me a box of matches. A civilian gave me a few grapes and a small piece of bread. I also obtained some mealy-meal flour which came in very handy.

On my return to camp, I cooked up the mealy-meal, mixed in my bully making a kind of skilly. The following morning Jack and I made a kind of porridge with the remaining mealy-meal which we enjoyed immensely."


August '43: P.G. 73, in Carpi, Italy

"On Wed 11-8-43, I received my first personal parcel from home. It was good to see so much chocolate and the clothing was most welcome. We had been receiving issues of clothes from the Red Cross, but these were limited. The parcel was intact according to the list which was enclosed.

The next day Jack received a cigarette parcel. On Tues 17-8-43, I got a small parcel from the Red Cross containing a harmonica. This proved useful to me and I passed away many hours playing same. The next day, Jack and I received a cigarette parcel each and so were O.K. for smokes for a time. Those are all the parcels I received in Italy."

© 2017 The Second World War Experience Centre.
© 2017 IWM (5193) 1981.
Intriguing!!! The Dahlia captured so beautifully caught my eye, but your father's diary documents the time so well I feel transported by his writing. That harmonica . . . there's a story about it no doubt.
August 30th, 2016  
Poignant memories Hazel, nicely written-up. Thanks for sharing.
August 30th, 2016  
@jyokota

He played it later at a concert in the German PoW work camp. And I remember, as a child, my father playing the harmonica.
August 30th, 2016  
@wordpixman

Arthur, thank you - I've learnt that brief is best!! And every time I do a post from those diaries, I vow it will be the last...........
August 30th, 2016  
@quietpurplehaze -- my mother also played a harmonica. I learned a little as a child. It's an instrument that has such warmth to the playing that it brings about fond memories for listeners.
August 30th, 2016  
A beautiful dahlia and loving memories from your Dad's diaries !
August 30th, 2016  
Beautiful detail, colour and composition Hazel a lovely image, thanks for the very interesting extracts from your dads POW diary:)
August 30th, 2016  
@jyokota

Thank you - interesting.
August 30th, 2016  
Bep
Beautiful image. Thanks for sharing your Dad's memories.
August 30th, 2016  
Gorgeous colour and lighting. Interesting narrative :)
August 30th, 2016  
Wonderful dahlia with its pretty colour and spikey petals a lovely capture. Interesting reading from your Dad's diary amazing how he manages to get a little extra food and comforts to help him along.
August 30th, 2016  
Beautiful :)
August 30th, 2016  
Very pretty.
August 30th, 2016  
A poignant snippet from the diary, Hazel. My Dad was in Libya too (although he hardly talked about it, let alone wrote a diary) but, after getting seriously wounded, he was back home by the date of that first diary entry
August 30th, 2016  
Pretty and I love to read your father's memories.
August 30th, 2016  
Although I cannot see any connection between the story and the dahlia I find them both very intriguing - the dahlia for its beauty and your dad's diary for a real window on soldiers in WWII.
August 30th, 2016  
@yrhenwr

My dad didn't talk much about his experiences either. He said he started the diaries 'out of sheer boredom' - well I'm glad he did! He saw out the war as a PoW - Benghazi, Italy, work camp in Germany, culminating with more adventurous weeks in Czechoslovakia on the run at the end. I guess your dad was maybe also captured at Tobruk.
August 30th, 2016  
@sangwann

Thanks for your interest. The connection, Dione, is that my dad was an keen gardener and grew dahlias in our garden when I was young. It's also a bit more interesting than the illustrations i could otherwise use! I have explained the connection often in the many (too many probably!) posts which I've made from my dad's diaries but I should have mentioned it again.
August 30th, 2016  
How wonderful you have your dad's diary to be able to read his memories. Thank you for sharing it. This shot is beautiful and a Fav!
August 30th, 2016  
Beautiful bright colours of summer
August 30th, 2016  
A beautiful dahlia, Hazel. I enjoy reading about you Dad's experiences :)
August 30th, 2016  
@quietpurplehaze He wasn't captured.. shrapnel got him at Tobruk and messed up his shoulder. Not sure I could associate a flower with him... maybe a withered one, not a bright beauty like your dahlia!
August 30th, 2016  
Really fantastic image. Fav.
August 30th, 2016  
Awesome picture and story.
August 30th, 2016  
Lovely capture
August 30th, 2016  
Love to read your Dad's writing
August 30th, 2016  
Fantastic - the photo and the comment!
August 30th, 2016  
Beautiful and so nice to read all those war time memories
August 30th, 2016  
Great detail in this image. Love your narrative too - thanks for sharing.
August 30th, 2016  
This is a beautiful close up of that dahlia, the colour is splendid and very bright. It's a pleasure to read the diary entries describing life in camp.
August 30th, 2016  
Lovely detail and nice narrative given many thanks
August 31st, 2016  
beautiful dahlia
August 31st, 2016  
Because I have been out of touch for the last few days I nearly missed this. So glad I went back over some of the shots I have missed. I really do enjoy reading your Dad's diaries.
September 1st, 2016  

Babs, thank you - I'm always thinking it's time to stop posting from the diaries but when I get a comment such as yours, I realise it's still OK!!

See http://365project.org/quietpurplehaze/add-ins/2016-08-31

@onewing
September 1st, 2016  
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