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on 30 January 2012
I read this book almost in one go The style is so fluid and realistic. The story comes out of the pages and you feel almost as though you are listening to an intensely honest and private conversation. Charles account of his experiences moved me so deeply that I frequently had tears running down my face. It highlighted the chasm of differences that exist between the young men of that time and our indulged disaffected youths of today. I wish I could find a way of getting this account of determination and quiet bravery to the widest audience possible. This is one of those books that emblazons itself in your memory.
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on 29 January 2012
Very few conscripted Private soldiers get their story into print. This is an epic story told in a well crafted fashion, I enjoyed it from cover to cover. I was left in awe of all survivors who, just like Mr Waite, endured unspeakable horrors only to return home and somehow carve out a life for themselves; this being done without sharing anything of their experiences with family or friends.
It begs the recurring question, 'How would I have coped'. I guess not as well as him or the men of his generation.
I believe everyone should read this book but would be pleased if just a few Politicians and other 'leaders' took the time to do so, Mr Waite gave up five years of his young life, his wise words should be heard.
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on 7 April 2013
I too had personal reasons for reading this book. My father (now a frail 96) is a survivor of 5yrs captivity as a POW in Stalag XXA (Thorun) and XXB (Marienburg). He spoke very rarely of his experiences. The brief facts I learned over the years squared exactly with Mr Waite's experiences:Capture near Wancourt in Northern France, the march to Triers, the long journey East by train truck herded in like cattle, work on farms wearing clogs, cold winters and not enough food. Dad was in a sub camp of Fallingbostel just before the end of the war. Was he part of the long march? He and fellow prisoners were turned out of the last camp under guard and were foraging for food north of Luneberg Heath in late April 1945 when he was liberated by American troops.
My Dad was regular army before the war but always felt, like Mr Waite that he had somehow nothing to be proud of having been a POW for the duration. Perhaps for some the mere fact of survival was enough. It's too late now to revisit his own experiences. I feel I should respect his peace of mind and be thankful that he did survive and enjoy his presence while I can.
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on 20 January 2012
Once I picked up this book I could not put it down. It is one of the best written and most moving accounts of an ordinary man's life, both in peace and war that I have read. The main part of the book deals with five long years spent by Charles Waite as prisoner of war of the Nazis. His story is the story of many thousands of Allied POWs who were forced to work for their enemy because they were not officers. This is not an account of daring escapes from Colditz or of tunnel digging at Stalag 17, this is an account of the dreary and miserable life endured by the majority of POWs and of the terrible days of the long march from East Prussia to the West without food, without medicines and without warm clothing during the one of the coldest winters in the 20th century. This book is a testament to the courage, endurance and sheer grit of those POWs who made it back, often broken in body and mind, to a country that did not understand or care for them, it is an act of remembrance of those who perished in captivity and a warning of the cruelty and barbarity of war.
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on 3 March 2012
This is a remarkable story of Charles Waite, an ordinary man with an extraordinary past as a P.O.W. in World War 11.
The story made compelling reading from start to finish. I was very moved by the courage of this man and his friends who helped him survive this horrific experience.

Dee La Vardera has done an excellent job in weaving the story together, evoking the emotions of the man who suffered hell for 5 years before returning to a normal married life in Britain.

Everyone should read this story if only to remind themselves that whatever hardship they may feel they are suffering, it is insignificant compared to what Charles and men like him endured.
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on 24 February 2017
I very interesting book that was hard to put down. Prisoners of war are a forgoten side of any war that seem to be forgotten some times. It really show what a mess the army got its self into at the start of WW2.
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on 19 February 2012
This book has opened my eyes to a part of the 2nd world war that was completely unknown to me. Like many, my view of POW camps has been gained from Colditz, The Great Escape and other similar stories. These always feature officers and NCOs, many from the RAF, in a structured and seemingly comfortable environment. Charles's account reveals a very different world of ordinary soldiers plucked from their civilian lives and ending up as POWs in truly gruesome circumstances. His account is moving, humorous, horrific and touching in equal measure. I'm not a regular reader of historical accounts but I found the style of story-telling in this book excellent and conjured up images that will stay with me for a long time.

Sadly Charles Waite passed away a couple of weeks ago and I'm so pleased that with the encouragement of friends and ex POW associations he was persuaded to tell the story that he had kept bottled up for so many years.
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on 17 February 2012
Charles Waite is a humble and very ordinary man with an extraordinary story of survival to tell. It is different from most accounts of its kind in the sense that, to use his own words, he "hadn't won any medals" and he [mistakenly in my opinion] had no 'stories of brave deeds" to recount. Charles Waite was a lad from a poor background who joined the army early in WW2 and within weeks he was taken prisoner by the Germans in France. What follows is an account of how he survived the cruelty and deprivation of five years in captivity. He tells his story without adornment - quietly and convincingly, and it is a reminder of how much we all owe to men like Charlie and to those of his comrades who, unlike him, failed to survive. It should be included on the list of recommended reading in our secondary schools and colleges. We salute you, Charles Wade. And we most certainly "Owe You".
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on 7 June 2012
This is a poignant story of an Essex lad for whom the war wasn't all about conquest and victory, but hardship and suffering. The courage, fortitude and capacity for soaking up whatever misery came his way is inspiring. If ever you think life is a bit tough or you've had a rough deal, read this book and be grateful for what you have. Growing up long after the war I can't begin to understand Charles Waites' mental toughness to cope with what he and his fellow prisoners endured but this book goes a long way towards it.

I'm not a quick reader but it took only three days to read this in my spare time as I found it compelling and even moving. We have a lot to be grateful for, to people like Charles and his generation.
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on 31 January 2012
This book is an amazing example of social history. This should be made compulsory reading for senior school children. It made me feel as though I could conjure the images Charles evokes with absolute clarity. It made me feel amazed at the lengths of human endurance these young men were made to suffer. It made me question the depths of mans inhumanity to man. but more than all of that, was the heart wrenching return to a Britain that had changed forever. I truly did not expect to feel so shocked on reading this but feel it has opened my eyes. I wish this book could be shared far and wide.
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