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Survivor of the Long March

by Charles Waite

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Survivor Of The Long March : Five Years as a POW 1940-45

Nothing prepares a man for war and Private Charles Waite, of the Queen's Royal Regiment, was ill-prepared when his convoy took a wrong turning near Abbeville and met 400 German soldiers and half a dozen tanks. He lost his freedom that day in May 1940 and didn't regain it until April 1945 when he was rescued by Americans near Berlin, having walked 1,600km from East Prussia. Silent for seventy years, Charles writes about his five lost years: the terrible things he saw and suffered; his forced work in a stone quarry and on farms; his period in solitary confinement for sabotage; and the terrible Long March, or Black March, when 80,000 British POWs were forced to trek through a vicious winter westwards across Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany as the Soviets approached.

His story is also about friendship, of physical and mental resilience and of compassion for everyone who suffered.

Staff Reviews

Survivor of the long march - five years as a POW 1940-1945 by Charles Waite with Dee La Vardera, foreword by Terry Waite CBE Published by History Press, 2017 This is a harrowing story that at the time of writing had not been told by Charles Waite before. Waite had kept the tale of his horrific experiences to himself, which is a similar story for many other POWs. It is well written and very readable. Dee La Vardera and Charles Waite portray the story in a light-hearted way, but nonetheless bring forward to the reader the seriousness and sense of horror of the situation. Charles relives his capture and imprisonment with remarkable clarity and the reader can quite easily picture the horrendous situations Charles and his fellow POWs found themselves in. His strength of character to survive is to be admired. As Charles says, on many occasions, he was one of the lucky ones, despite having spent the five war years with practically a total lack of nourishment, whilst toiling on farms, working in the countryside and breaking stones in stone quarries in Poland. He did not have to witness the other atrocities that took place. The seeming futility of Charles' existence and his inability to take his place in fighting for his country and world freedom, took a different toll on his psyche. But he remained sad after his return to the United Kingdom as the military authorities side-lined his and other POWs experiences and did not credit them for their quiet efforts on their return. He portrays to the reader a different slant on the importance of his mundane existence. This is a useful book to give a balanced view of the varying experiences of army personnel in the Second World War. The long march of nearly 1,000 miles is retold by Charles Waite in an amazing way, readers can picture and almost relive the atrocities themselves. This issue is new edition of a publication in 2012. It is a worthwhile read for historians and enthusiasts alike. Celia Lassen Friends of the National Archives http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/get-involved/friends.htm