Sunday, 25 January 2015
A Burns Night he would never forget, 70 years ago today!
“The 25th Jan 1945, Burns Night, a night many of the Prisoners would never forget.” Words I remember my Grandad saying many years ago, as he told me yet another amazing story of his time during the Second World War. After what seemed like an eternity in a POW Camp, this was the night he had finally waited for, the beginning of his journey back home.
Unfortunately the high spirit of many of the POW’s that night did not last long. This was to be the beginning of a notorious “Long march to freedom” across Poland and into Germany, in freezing temperatures well below zero. This event lead to many deaths, some of which Neil’s closet friends, he met during his time in the camp.
One such friend, Anthony Coulthard, a great friend of Neil’s, accompanied him on that March. Unfortunately Anthony’s condition deteriorated during the March and he didn’t make their final destination. His final resting place was not known following the war and this was something my grandfather always thought about on Armistice Day.
Two years ago, through the power of the internet I managed to trace a relative of Anthony and the son of another fellow POW. It was with much delight that that we were in contact with each other, with the same task in mind.
Months of research and visits to various sites had taken place with one aim in mind. An unmarked grave of a British Soldier, near to the spot where he passed away has been found. It is now hoped that Anthony’s final resting place has been found. Using documented eye witness accounts including information from my Grandad's book, the evidence is strong enough that Ministry of Defence are now looking at the case. A long and arduous process that will hopefully provide his family with closure and a wish my grandfather would have been so happy to have granted.
Epitaph On A Friend - Robert Burns
An honest man here lies at rest,
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm'd,
Few heads with knowledge so inform'd;
If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
Robert Burns, 1784