War heroes

From time to time you see those patients that touch your heart and today I met (let us call him) Mr Harris, a very splendid gentleman indeed. He is in his eighties and like all war veterans I have seen, he has that twinkle in his eyes. He has a certain demeanour, a special something that sets him apart from the crowd. With all the veterans I’ve met so far, it’s evident that they can overcome hardship and keep a sense of humour through it all. I envy the way they seem to taste life, savour it as a gift.

Mr Harris was injured during the war in Arnhem (in Holland) during Operation Market Garden where he was treated in a hospital that was seized by the Germans. Shortly after his admittance The Germans used the basement to store ammunition and the Brits then proceeded to bomb the building unbeknown to the fact that their own injured mates were inside! Mr Harris still remembers the incident so vividly that he wept whilst relating how the shrapnel flew past their heads, how the roof collapsed, how they started singing hymns amongst the intense firing and how the Lord protected him. One brave soldier walked out with a white flag which brought the firing to an end at last.

Mr Harris was later transferred to a POW camp in Brunswick where he received a ration of a one inched vegetable and a cup of watery soup per day! He says many people died there (mostly of hunger) and he shuddered and wept again when he told me how he heard their cries as they died.

I asked him about the movie A Bridge Too Far which I’ve recently seen and he said unfortunately that was the American version. Apparently a British movie was made shortly after the war about Arnhem with many of the officers who served there, playing themselves in the movie. Mr Harris was invited to the premier and wept the whole 120mins and although not a smoker, smoked incessantly through it all. He says reliving it with all of his close friends “dying again”, was extremely difficult to bare.

Mr Harris has a very close knit family and speaks highly of his late wife. He says it is sad to see young people drinking their lives away and others robbing and killing each other. “What a waste of life”, he remarked. Having had several heart attacks recently, Mr Harris says he is content to go when the time comes. He says he has had a good life, that he ran the race and kept his faith.

To submit your story please, email me.

Dezi Belle


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