- Stepping away from the maritime realm, I invite you to share a remarkable tale from my past, one that unfolded in the picturesque Scottish Highlands, far from the sea’s embrace. This account captures a unique chapter in my youth, intricately intertwined with WWII’s echoes and the encounters of a curious young lad.
- In the shadows of the Ben Wyvis foothills near Dingwall, Scotland, my father, a Major, was entrusted with a Military P.O.W. camp. Amidst these gorse-covered hills, an unexpected camaraderie between British guards and German prisoners flourished. The inmates’ repertoire even included playing Beckstein pianos in the Officers Mess, an improbable harmony amid wartime circumstances.
- However, this tranquility was shattered one fateful night when the Luftwaffe’s bombs descended upon the camp. Chaos ensued as huts crumbled and fences fell, prompting the POWs to flee to the safety of the hills. At dawn, I embarked on my pony Snowball, tasked with locating the dispersed prisoners. The encounter that followed with the Germans and their surreal march back to camp remains etched in my memory, mirrored by a dream 61 years later that transported me back to that poignant moment.
About a week ago I had a dream….
Now, this means that this following article has really nothing to do with either the sea
or boats or come to that nothing to do with Antigua. For which I apologize. However, it was absolutely a factual account of a bit of an adventure of mine when I was a young lad in the foot hills of Ben Wyvis not far from the town of Dingwall in Scotland.
My old Dad was in charge of a Military P.O.W. camp which housed in this case a considerable number of German submariners and air force officers. To help make it clear he had previously been doing the same thing in many parts of the UK. That is building the camps, setting them up and spending at least six months in each one when they were occupied. But the German High Command was sure that costly and war winning secrets were being told to my father by the German officers. So for at least two years these camps were occasionally being bombed by the Germans!
What the British didn’t know was all to the good. That was apparently the German
point of view. Anyway, I was at this stage staying with my father, the Major at
a new, recently completed camp which was well hidden in the gorse covered hills
in the wilds of Scotland. Certainly to me the inmates were a decent enough lot, fairly fed up with Mr. Hitler and other high ranking Nazis. Dad had gone to the lengths of getting two Beckstein pianos from somewhere and installing them in the Officers Mess. So everyone
seemed to have a pleasant enough time. The elderly British Guards and the German prisoners had exactly the same food to eat and some of the POW’s were even allowed to work on the local mountain farms.
Until that is, the night that my father’s camp was bombed by the Luftwafft! As you can imagine the results included flattening many huts and knocking down the surrounding barbwire fence……so many of the POW’s took off for the safety of the surrounding hills. Now, it so happened that I had a very fat, white pony called Snowball and in the early light of dawn, my old Dad sent me off on Snowball to look for the prisoners who had understandably done a bunk to avoid the bombs. Well, by about mid day, I had found about 190 of them in a group of old stone cottages which had not been used for many a year. Some what strangely the band of POW’s smiled when I arrived and all wanted to know if I knew the way back.
I didn’t even think it was strange! So with Snowball and my young self in the lead we
all made our way back through the heather and gorse and the odd bog to the crumpled gates of the camp. Now, this is the bit that I will always remember, my father had instructed his adjutant to have a guard of honor drawn up outside the crumpled gates. The middle aged British soldiers with their empty antique rifles at “the present” and under the stony eyes of the R.S.M. brought the parade to attention. My father and his officers then saluted this extraordinary column as we wearily made our way back into the warmth and
relative safety. Now, whatever you may think, it did actually happen and my dream happened on the exact same date 61 years later!
Oh I forgot to tell you the Germans were singing quite loudly Onward Christian
Soldiers when we struggled in. Just imagine what it meant to a young kid like