Writing about my father’s experiences as a Prisoner of War is, on times, harrowing- not least because though I can date and place him in events I cannot really corroborate these as part of his story because other than two events- his capture and two snapshot on the forced march he never spoke about them. ‘Ifan suffered much.’said Mike Evans in a message to me after we discovered his mother was best friends with Nancy dad’s sister but at a distance of seventy five years I’m unlikely to find personal accounts now. So it’s almost a lost narrative slipping through my fingers in fragments of stories passed on, historical accounts, messages and impersonal service reports that say little about who he was. Moreover given that it is over 40 years since his death, it feels that he has slipped further down stream out of sight in a river-haze.
Part of this enterprise is a search for him – perhaps we always have an innate need to search for what is lost: keys, tickets, debit cards, childhood friends, school days, childhood summers and significant relationships. But it seems in some respects, that he is lost too a bit part in the greater narrative of historical accounts. Dad was never a ‘glory-boy’. His approach was to stay alive and survive. That he and fellow POW came close to being shot by SS captors is documented historically and coincides with one other story I’ve been told.
Part of my concerns with narrative belong to the recent historical commemorations and remembrance services for WW1 and WW2. As a child, these services seemed more low key and muted. Dad, wearing a winter coat, bought poppies in Swansea Market, places them in the grass around St Mary’s , then we left for home. There was no discussion, no elaboration simply due respect and thanks and I suspect for dad. many memories. However, It’s hard not to feel there’s another elaborate narrative around the commemorations of the last two to three years and I would love to be a time-travelling historian to see how all this ties together with what’s going on in politics today. Maybe what I’m searching for is lost, maybe I’m a bit lost and am looking for what can be found. However it feels as if so many letters, documents and fragments are slipping through my fingers.