“Memories are my freedom, and hope my only liberty” Fred Lamb
Dad. Grandad. Husband. Soldier. Prisoner of war number 221998 and a grower of what looked to a four year old in 1970 like a 100 miles of perfect roses. A good guy. A quiet man. Strong and always smiling. This is a story of a small part of his life. Not insignificant but something he rarely spoke of and only what I discovered later only really to me. When I was given the book and asked him about it he wouldn’t say anything of the horrors and kept those things to himself. He made light of most things and the only detail of his capture he made of it a rather funny story, I think true, of being blown off his motorcycle in North Africa and incapacitated due to the large amount of very painful shrapnel in his arse.
The diary starts with a poem – P.O.W. – which we couldn’t find anywhere else so presume that either Fred wrote it or it was written by another prisoner of war – either way it was written in his diary at Auschwitz. From the last line; “hope my only liberty” to the journey leaving Auschwitz on January 21st 1945 and through all of the towns and kilometres marched to the last entry “Americans here” after 10 weeks on the road, the story tells itself.
He always made it very clear to me though that he met many cultures and nationalities during this time and that there were good and bad Afrikaans, good and bad Allies, good and bad Italians, good and bad Germans. Within each of those he could name a friend. He told me of the march through Sicily and Italy – another missing part of this account and the jeers and cheers and hard work on roads and railways. He also told me, when I visited him in hospital in the late ‘80s that he knew about the next world war, not the Cold War, but the next major global conflict. He told me who would be at war, where the war would take place and who would be fighting in that war and why. And he was right. I’ve always thought that it would be good to share this and this opportunity with the freedom flame in an art space in a shopping centre in the middle of Hull amongst friends seemed like the right time. Lou never knew him, but I wish she did.
RD-H. May 8th 2014.
Click on the images to enlarge and scroll through to read Fred’s diary and poem.
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