General Poetry posted July 4, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
An Age of Stoicism

My Father's Tears

by Debbie D'Arcy

I only saw my father dear
Cry once in all those years.
He hid his thoughts so guardedly,
Eschewed unwanted tears.
His life, when young, had always been
Bucolic, it would seem
But life would change so cruelly
When war dispelled his dream.
This 'boy' would find himself in France
And then so quickly caught.
Untrained and sent without due care,
His mission came to naught.
How daunting must his world have been
When captured, driven out
And marched to who knows where or why -
"Los! Schnell, schnell!" they would shout.
A prison camp, his barbed new home 
Where many would despair,
To keep alive their will to live
Could prove too much to bear.
Then sent to toil upon the land,
He'd learn those skills so fast
While glimpse of Heaven kept him strong
With mem'ries of his past.
And when the end of war approached,
The Russian threat so near,
He'd march that Hell road home with hope -
One thousand miles of fear.
And yet so much of this is gleaned
From stories I have read.
He held so much within his soul,
His sorrow never shed.
Until, one day, I saw his eyes
Infused with grief and pain -
He'd mourn his mother's loss with love,
His heart could beat again!



Los! Schnell, schnell! - German for Let's go! Quickly!

Right at the beginning of the war, my father ('Lofty' ) was dispatched with his regiment, 51st Highland Division, Royal Signals, to northern France on an expeditionary mission. He was almost immediately captured by the Germans in St Valery, June 1940 and taken to Gdansk, Eastern Germany (now Poland) where he was detained in a prison camp before being sent to work on the land.

At the end of the war, in response to the Russian advance, German prisoners of war were released and undertook what's been called The Great March West across Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany. This march is estimated to have taken over 4 months in freezing cold temperatures between January and April 1945 during which dysentery, starvation and death were common.

It was quite a pivotal moment for me when the driver's mirror captured his tearful blue eyes as we drove to his mother's funeral.
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