‘You were always very kind to me’ - Mendham man shares German prison of war’s letters to his soldier father
- Credit: Archant
When Denis Pye was just a few months old his father Herbert, also known as Sonny, was called up to serve in the Second World War.
During his six years with the Royal Artillery, Sergeant Pye helped to defend the coastal areas from enemy fire, was involved in the liberation of the Channel Islands from German occupation, and found himself in charge of a small prisoner-of-war camp on the island of Alderney.
Mr Pye, who lives with his wife in Mendham, near Harleston, said his father did not speak much about his experiences but when he died in 1995, he found two letters from one of the POW who was in his father's care.
The 77-year-old, who was a scientist specialising in plant disease, has tried to decipher the name of the POW who wrote the letter by asking German friends, but has been unable to - but believes his Christian name may be Georg.
In one of the letters it states: 'You leave Alderney today and go back from Guernsey to England in a few days. I am convinced you are awaited with a hearty welcome at home. So I wish you very happy years. Please take all my best wishes for the future.'
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Mr Pye said: 'My father did not talk about the war. He came back home and went back to his old job and lived a very normal life.
'I don't know why he didn't mention it. I don't think they [soldiers] ever talked about it. I never questioned him so we didn't get the opportunity to talk.
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'I think it was just not of that time to admit you had met a German friend to be honest.'
Mr Pye said when he first read the letters it brought tears to his eyes because both his father and the German soldier obviously respected one another. Another section of the letter states: 'You were always very kind to me thereby to carry easier the fate of a POW.'
'I'm very proud of my father', said Mr Pye. 'And in some way you can see where I get my own feelings from. I don't feel bad about anyone and in that way I inherited it from him.
'He was one of the guys that people liked. He was not a hard man at all.'