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Monday, 24 September 2012

Day 137 - Wing Commander Yeo Thomas!

As far as I know the English translation for Buchenwald is Beech Wood!  In his memoir, my Dad refers to the, "The White Rabbit", better know as Wing Commander Yeo Thomas.  A film and book were made about "The White Rabbit."
The last chapter of the book, reads:

"The King has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS TO Acting Wing Commander Forest Frederick Yeo-Thomas, M.C. (89215), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve."

One of my Belgian grandfathers was awarded the GEORGE CROSS, World War I.  I saw the medal recently at my mother's house.  Weird!!!!!, for the first time ever I just realized that both grandfathers of mine were Flemish!!!

Excerpt from:  Page 4 of the book, The White Rabbit by Bruce Marshall, 1967: TO THE MEMORY OF ALL THE OTHER BRAVE

Summary from the White Rabbit:

"At the outbreak of World War II Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was a director of Molyneux, the famous Parisian dressmaking firm.  He joined the R.A.F., and in 1942 was posted to the section of Special Operations Executive which was organizing the Resistance Movement in France.

He became a leading secret agent, dropping into France by parachute and establishing "contacts"..........When the B.B.C., broadcasts to France stated that the white rabbit had returned to the hutch it meant that Yeo-Thomas had safely returned to England.

In 1944, angry at the meagre assistance allocated to the Resistance, he secured an interview with Churchill, who, after hearing the story, immediately gave orders for substantial increases in the number of aircraft engaged in parachuting operations and for larger supplies of weapons and equipment.  By now came news that one of his French colleagues had been arrested by the Gestapo.  Yeo-Thomas insisted on going to his rescue - and in Paris was arrested himself.

There followed a long ordeal of incredible torture and suffering that only a man of indomitable spirit could have endured.  He steadfastly refused to give the Germans the information they wanted, managed to communicate with friends outside the prisons, and was of the few British survivors of the ghastly camp at Buchenwald.  He was later awarded the George Cross and appointed to the Legion of Honour....... 

Sunday, 16 September 2012


The title of this section of my blog is from Page 3, Walter Poller's book, published in 1961, "Medical Block Buchenwald".  It was one of the books  found in my Dad's possessions when he passed away!

Walter Poller was a German political prisoner at Buchenwald and was released on May 10, 1940.  May 10, 1940, my Dad's birthday, and the day my Dad says that the war really started for him.

My Dad's story and Walter Poller's story seem to flow naturally into each, both with a very powerful message!

From Walter Poller, Introduction to the English Edition!

I wrote this book in April and May 1945, directly after the collapse of the Third Reich.  From the meagre notes - disguised for safety's sake - which I had jotted down during the first months after my release from the concentration camp in 1940.

It was not my intention to release the book immediately for publication.  I knew that the contents could have become a manual for Evil and was afraid that in the forthcoming difficult years it could foster a new irrational premise and obscure objective standards.

My intuition told me that this report  in its intended sense could not fulfill its purpose until, from an inner need and the in the fullness of time, the blackest of chapters in history could fruitfully overcome......

Today it has become an imperative duty to conquer the sinister past, not only in Germany and Central Europe but throughtout the whole world.  The public cannot and will not weaken in this respect.

The reader will easily recognize that this book was written to break down doors which were closed to many and which might have been closed today.  These are the doors through which each man must pass if he wishes to lead a decent human life and to strife for a better humanity.

As I wrote it there loomed behind me the shades of 238,379 prisoners who passed through the Calvary of Buchenwald and of the 56,545 men and women who were murdered there.  May this book prove a foundation stone for a better future!

London, 6th December, 1960.  WALTER POLLER

Days 1 - 132 of this blog are primarily my Dad's story about his e road to Buchenwald and back from a Belgian survivor's perspective! 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Day 135 - The End and New Beginnings!

"Anyway, I felt  that I was truly back into useful service again, fighting my own way back without having to go to rest places in the Limburg and Switzerland to recuperate from my concentration camp and war experiences.

I also fought my way back into life's competition with the best and held my head high without flinging to the weak side and bribes.  I even passed an exam with flying colors, for stores and magazines, for the mail boats but they waited too long to let me know and by then I had already left for Canada.  

Due to my travels, I was even unable to attend my own Mother's or Uncle's funerals.  However, I did make it for my Dad's funeral as at the time I was living in England again.  Unfortunately, an unfair distribution of my inheritance had already taken place before I arrived back in Belgium.  So, as a result, I lost all trace of my family and benefits, I was either in England, Canada or Rhodesia.

I still continued to work hard bringing the family up - nothing was ever short.  While in Rhodesia, I studied mining and prospecting and became involved in the war between, The Settlers and The Freedom Fighters.  Minding my business, as much as I could, so I could get on independently.

Forever holding on to the right of, "Freedom of Expression", that I had so much endeavored and hungered for during my war period in Europe,  which was always fresh in my memory...........................

I believe my memoir reflects the true findings of myself and other people around the world who bear the scars of unjust wars and who survive in the loins of generations of their ancestors reaching similar conclusions in the end.

Only wisdom and the necessary Will to do so will enable us to understand and turn this world into a paradise for all.

"To Each His Own", will once more remind us of this.................

THE END AND BEGINNING................................ 

Day 134 - Last pages from in Louis' Memoir

I have decided to write the end of my Dad's memoir on this blog.  Initially,  unilaterally I had decided to exclude his last couple of pages but who am I to decide what should or should not be included - my Dad's words should continue to speak for themself!

Wow, there is a fantastically dark storm coming..... the whole room is dark - I love storms albeit from a safe distance! Wow, thundering and lightning and very, very dark ........heavy rain now and dynamic thunder and lightning - I am glad I am not on my bike - close call ....I just screamed (oh dear) as there was a heavy lightening flash through my window.

Yesterday, I discovered that there is a site called Pro Belgium on fb -  so I do not need to create my own site after all!!!!.  I love it - as mentioned, I like the sense of belonging to Belgium as in previous years I had experienced a sense of disconnect from any cultural heritage!

Last pages of my Dad's memoir:

My career in the navy was over and I could looked forward to a shore life with allll1 the responsibilities of a large family which ended up with four lovely girls and one boy.

Abroad and competing doubly, I managed to concentrate my acquired engineering skills for working in garages and machine shops in factories which were in full swing at that time with bonuses and lots of overtime.

I even received a nine month rehabilitation course in Ghent for garage management in the higher technical institutes for veterans and alike, under which I was qualified, which entitled me to luxuries by now - as I was paid out like a professional in damage claims.  I received a political cross from Prince Albert with four stars and had the right of the Order of Leopold.

My absence from Belgium eventually got me out of touch with all the news, the last appeal closed in 1953, at which time I had embarked on trying to improve myself with work and making a home for my family ......

To be continued......Via Day 135 - I am going to watch the storm!!!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Day 133 - Pro Belgium bloggers Louis and Paula Fynaut

Louis Fynaut's blog at:

Paula Fynaut's blog at

Day 132 - Letter sent out from Buchenwald Concentration camp Aug.1944

As far as I know, attached is the only letter my Dad was able to send out from Buchenwald.  It was scribed for him in German - he was allowed to sign with his first name which would have let his parent's know it was genuine - it would likely have been heavily censored!!!!I have decided to continue this blog by adding inserts from books that are relevant to my Dad's story and then very likely create a new blog about his Zimbabwe story ...