Barbed Wire Blues written by Bernard Harris and published by Pen & Sword Books – £19.99 – Hardcover – Pages 192
As the author, a young Army bandsman lies wounded at the Battle of Corinth, he is shot between the eyes at point-blank range. Miraculously he survives but is blinded. In a makeshift hospital, a young Greek volunteer saves his life with slices of boiled egg. Captured Allied medics later restore the sight in one eye.
In this moving and entertaining memoir Bernard describes daily life in POW camps in Greece and Germany. He established a theatrical group and an orchestra who perform to fellow POWs and their German guards. A superb raconteur, as well as a gifted musician, the author’s anecdotes are memorably amusing. Bernard was repatriated via Sweden in late 1943.
While blinded in one eye and seriously wounded, the author was told by his New Zealand doctor, fellow POW and musician John Borrie, ‘When nothing else will do, music will always lift one up’. Barbed Wire Blues’ inspirational, ever optimistic tone will surely have the same effect on its readers.
Well for a start in reviewing this book you have to say Wow, a young man shot between the eyes from point-blank range and he manages to survive is a feat in itself. In essence, this is a story of a young man who is then sent to a prisoner of war camp where he is looked after and goes on to survive through the help of fellow prisoners who are medically trained. He then in a way of giving back starts to set up entertainment for his fellow prisoners, by setting up a choresta and theatrical group. In a book that starts off in a dark way, that could have so easily ended in a sad way, it turns into a very good feel-good story that is quite uplifting. This book also takes you through the daily ‘normal’ day-to-day life of a prison camp which is a good read, and it does differ well from other prisoner of war camp stories. This book looks less at the usual escape attempts but concentrates on lifting people of the camp through entertainment. A thoroughly good book and an excellent read, one I would heartily recommend to other people.