on 12 July 2011
I read this in one go - once I had started I couldn't put it down. I cried more than once but also, despite the subject matter, laughed out loud in several places. Arthurs writing is lovely and the description of the conditions, the scenery and the unlikely "friendships" that were made during his time in captivity are amazing. I believe this is a book for everyone and, as there are sadly so few of our heroes left, will soon be the way to come anywhere near understanding how tough things were and how clueless and lucky we are today. I have thought about Arthur and his comrades in someway everyday since I read this book.
on 16 April 2012
It is difficult to imagine the terror of being held captive during WW2, we all now know how it all ended, but at the time prisoners of war didn't. Waking up every morning thinking that it could be you last, must take a massive toll on your health and well-being. To have to sustain this for 5 years is imaginable to me, but Arthur did and still managed to keep his perspective on life.
What I soon grasped when reading his own account of WW2, was that Arthur was a gentleman first and a soldier second. His respect for his fellow inmates and even of some of his enemies shone through. He did what he had to do to survive which must have been soul destroying at times, especially having to work down a dark and dangerous mine.
Other people did play a part in keeping Arthur's spirit up, mainly the odd letters from home and the amazing work of the Red-Cross, along with people from his home town who aided this support.
His family are entitled to feel honoured to have been part of the life of this Gentleman Hero.
Read this book and count your blessings, I know I did.
Sojourn in Silesia: 1940 - 1945
on 5 March 2012
Sojourn in Silesia, by Arthur Charles Evans, CBE, is a first-rate first-hand account of one Prisoner-of-War's experiences during the length of World War Two. From how he came to be taken prisoner, to the life and death remembrances of captivity, to enduring the rise and then fall of the German Army, Arthur faithfully recounts all he can remember of significance from the years 1940 through 1945. Engrossing reading, with references to people, places and activities everyone familiar with this dark period will recall. Highly recommended to anyone wishing to more fully understand personal response to institutional horror.
on 26 June 2012
I was honoured to be asked to review this book by my RISI and Facebook friend Jo Harrison, Arthur Evans granddaughter, who is the editor of this story. Shameless plug here for Jo's website. Yes, I use the word story because it is Arthur's story and it is special not only to those close to him, family and friends, but because it is a humbling reminder of what our forebears went through during the World Wars of the 20th century.
I found Arthur's story very interesting partly because I had not read any accounts of POW's. This story is not full of terror, it is told in such a way that it keeps the reader interested. It does not dwell on horrors but gives a rounded view. The German officers were described as ordinary humans just carrying out their jobs and you could sense that many of them did not actually like keeping these men prisoners, they were not the Gestapo. Many of the POW's friends and comrades were killed and stories reached the inmates of Stalag VIIIB that some of those who had already left the camp had subsequently died. The POW's weren't treated too badly, compared to many of the atrocities we read about in the German prison camps and Arthur Evans was fortunate to build up a relationship with the German officers which helped his fellow inmates. A special man, he taught himself to speak German to not only help himself and the other prisoners, but it also made it easier for the Germans. His story shows that the Germans respected him. Of course, the POW's would not have had parcels of food and clothing if it were not for the work of the Red Cross and later on we hear that Mr Evans own family and friends in his home town contributed financially to ensure that he received clothing and food. He was fortunate to survive after his illnesses and surgeries and ironically, we hear later on that had he remained in London serving in a desk job he would have been killed.
It is hard to imagine what these heroes went through, although my late 'older' Mother (born the same year as Arthur) had provided clerical services in the war as a typist she did not seem inclined to enter discussion on the subject, this was something my family wanted to forget. My uncles did not discuss their war years either. The closest to stories I ever got were from my late father-in-law who had kept an album of his photos from the Royal Navy. It is important that our children learn these important historical facts and I would recommend this book to all - it is quite an insight both into the camp at Lamsdorf and into the part that Arthur played in being a major part of the POW community. I don't think it is fair to rate a book like this, how can you give a star rating to such an autobiography. I want to jump on the promotional bandwagon here and recommend it, read it to your children, grandchildren, pupils etc.
on 18 March 2012
My father was in the N.African desert during WW2 and never said much about it. Everyone should read books like this to know what really happened. I never knew men were so reliant on Red Cross parcels. An evocative book which I read in a day.
on 20 May 2012
I am not an avid reader and can't remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover. I reluctantly began this one, fearing that it would end up the same way as all the rest - one chapter read and never to be opened again.
How delightfully wrong I was. This is an absolutely fascinating account of the reality of being a prisoner of war in German-occupied Poland during World War II.
It is an honest, pragmatic and sometimes painfully emotive story, made all the more evocative by its actuality.
The author does not try to blind you with science, confuse you with literary structures or tug at your emotions. He tells it just like it was and, for my part, this bare honesty is what makes it so poignant and compelling.
on 25 May 2012
When I downloaded this book I wasn't sure that I would like it as its not my usual type of book. Started reading it on the train going to work and after the first few pages was totally hooked, I looked forward to my trip on the train to work each day so I could read more!
Would recommend this to everyone,due to the subject covered I thought it would be a depressing read but whilst it is a serious topic, I think this is a great book, easy to read and a great insight into how life was in POW camps.
on 6 April 2012
I read this book after it was recommended to me. Most enjoyable with tears in my eyes, probably on more than one occasion. It is amazing what the human body can take when subjected to the harshness of war?
on 21 January 2013
I got this title via an Army (British) online forum after reading some info on the content.
Not my normal read (though I am an avid military history buff), I found this story more than interesting, as it's a first hand account of being a Prisoner-Of-War, for a whole five years of World War Two. Additional to that, not by an Officer or celebrity name, but an ordinary Corporal, with no political axe to grind.
If anyone is interested in the fortitude of the average British Soldier, this illustrates it very well. I found myself comparing my own time in the Army, and though there are obviously differences, the same attitudes prevail from his day, to mine.
I was also born and raised on the Wirral, and found place references taking my own memories back in time. The story is well written, and not at all dry, and is one of the few that paints a detailed picture of the unfortunate situations a POW can find themselves in..
on 22 November 2004
A very readable story of one man's account of being a prisoner of war. The pressures, anxieties and comradeship. It certainly gives food for thought about how anybody could not only survive the ordeal, but learn from it. Not the "Great Escape", but somehow all the more poignant.