A PRISONER OF WAR OF THE GERMANS
Brian Horrocks, Middlesex Regiment
I was judged fit to be sent back to the PoW camp in Germany. My escort turned out to be a Feldwebel of the Imperial Guard who had been at the front since the beginning of the war, and was now on his way back to Germany to do some course or other; he spoke a little English and had once been to London to take part in a swimming race.
At the station I was leaning out of the carriage window when a German Red Cross girl passed along the platform, carrying a large bowl if soup with an appetising smell. She stopped, and then, seeing that I was an Englishman, spat into the soup and threw it on the platform. There was a bellow of rage from my escort. He made me sit well down in the carriage while he leant out and collected food from all who passed, every bit of which was passed back to me.
On another occasion we went into the station-master's office to find out about trains. As there was no one in the room, my Feldwebel pushed forward a chair for me to sit on. Suddenly the door burst open and in came a typical fat, German railway official.
"Why is this English swine seated in my office?" He shouted. "Get up!"
The Feldwebel walked slowly over to him, bent down towards the little turkey-cock and said: "this is a British officer who was wounded fighting, which you are never likely to be. He will remain seated."
And I did.
Afterwards he apologised for his fellow countryman, saying: "All front-line troops have a respect for each other, but the farther from the front you get, the more bellicose and beastly the people become. "
How right he was. I have always regarded the forward area of the battlefield as the most exclusive club in the world, inhabited by the cream of the nation's manhood - the men who actually do the fighting. Comparatively few in number, they have little hatred for the enemy - rather the reverse.