Friday, August 12, 2011

A painfully humorous poem called "Waiting" which describes what was apparently the most frequent Prisoner of War activity

From the inside cover of James Swinnerton's photographic prisoner of war record.

The wait is long, they search your bag,
You're slowly getting vexed then mad,
You've been searched ten times before
"Verboten" things they find galore.

You queue for soup, and wait for stores
Meanwhile the pang of hunger grows
To see a show, you queue again
This waiting's sending us insane.

The water fails, you queue again
We really must be near insane
Labouriously seeds you sow
We're waiting yet to see them grow.

You are lucky to find a "stone thrown" free
10 to 1 you'll wait for a P.
To aid Fritz count, again you stand
This fresh air treatment is simply grand.

Each day brings fresh invasion clues
Some ruddy fool has all the news
Meanwhile relax -- don't speculate
They also serve who stand and wait.

Sincerest fond wishes, Jim, now and always,
"British Petrol" 6-2-45

Marlag and Milag Nord was apparently a dual-purpose German prison camp: the Marlag side imprisoned Royal Navy personnel while the Milag side was for merchant seamen, such as James Swinnerton.

Swinnerton was a member of the British Merchant Navy which shipped supplies to Allied troops during WWII. In March of 1940, his ship, called "The Salmon Pool" which made trips from Norway to Britain, was attacked by Germans while just offshore in Norway. The British seamen jumped off the ship, swam to shore where the Germans were waiting for them. The seamen were then taken to the Milag section (an acronym for "Marine Internierten Lager" (Marine Camp Internees) of the prison camp the inmates referred to as Steinburg, located near Westertimke, Germany, where they remained for the duration of the war.

He was given this photo memory book by one of his fellow prisoners at the war’s end. Photos appear courtesy of Alison Madden, Swinnerton's granddaughter and author of the children's book, "Fred and Fiona Flea and the Crown Jewels Caper."

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