Visiting a WWII POW Relative at HarborPlace Generates Fascinating Memories
Glenn ("Bwana") Brown visited his "Uncle" Syd at HarborPlace Retirement Resort in 2003 and wrote a story about it for www.virtualtourist.com. HarborPlace Marketing Assistant Nance Cox ran across the online story in 2008 and requested permission to use it as a press release. Glenn asked Syd, Nance showed Syd the story, and Syd provided corrections and mesmerizing details about being a Prisoner of War during World War II.
Glenn said, "While on a recent business trip, I made use of a spare day to visit a distant relative who is now spending his time in a Senior's Home in Port Saint Lucie. I had brought him a small gift, packed in my luggage, but was not able to deliver it because my suitcase was temporarily lost due to missing its connection to Orlando as I passed through Boston. He had a good chuckle when I told him what had happened to his 'surprise'! On prior visits to this area, I noticed how nice it was to be able to get right out onto the coast by crossing over the bridges to Hutchinson's Island, making Port Saint Lucie a handy base to explore this part of southeastern Florida."
A Tough Old Veteran
"Syd, now approaching 91, was born in England but was brought up in South Africa. On the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the South African army and fought as part of the British 8th Army in North Africa against the Italians as well as the German General Rommel. In the end, he was part of the British forces captured with the fall of Tobruk, Libya, and spent the remainder of the war in Prisoner of War camps in Italy and Germany. *
"Syd married an English lass, who actually was brought up in Saskatchewan, Canada and they had a long and happy marriage - with their latter years spent in the Ft. Lauderdale and Port Saint Lucie areas of Florida. With the passing of his wife a few years ago, Syd continued to live on his own in their condo until last year when his failing health required a change to supervised accommodations. Right up until a couple of years ago, he could still 'shoot his age' at golf!"
A Very Nice Spot.
"I was really amazed at the quality of the grounds, buildings and rooms at Harbor Place! It has a spacious layout, with great gardens and very high quality exterior and interior decor. There also seemed to be great variety in the daily programs available to the residents."
* Update from Syd in December 2008:
Syd corrected and added to the story, "I actually was brought up in England, moving to South Africa in 1939. Within six months of the move, I was married and in the army! I was Platoon Sergeant with the 2nd South African Light Infantry Division. In June 1940, I kissed my wife good-bye and didn't see her again until August 1945, and during that time, there were two periods of about ten months when she had no news of me and didn't know whether I was dead or alive.
"June 1942, Rommel struck at Tobruk where my platoon was stationed. It was midsummer in the Sahara Desert with a merciless sun blazing down from a pitiless sky. As I shaved that morning, I watched Stukas dive-bombing so closely I could see the bombs as they were released.
"When Rommel took Tobruk, I was taken prisoner and, along with all the other PoWs, handed over to the Italians. We ended up in Benghazi, Libya, where we lived (or died) on a daily ration consisting of water and a small loaf of bread the size of my clenched fist. After five months of this, I was down from 160 to 75 pounds. They gave us nothing - no clothing, not even a mug to drink from. This was the mode for the rest of the years as PoW until June 1943. It was sheer neglect.
"In August 1943, I escaped with two companions from a PoW camp in Italy. We headed for the hills, thinking we would be safer in the rough terrain up there.
"The Allied Troops were supposed to be advancing and we were hoping they soon would push back the enemy and overrun where we happened to be, but we decided we had better get out of there and proceeded to move on our way south. Unfortunately, a few days later, we were spotted by a German patrol and ambushed.
"At one point, we were taken into a pauper's graveyard. It was walled and surrounded by desert and a rocky path to the sea. Three Italian staff officers came from the ocean side with six or seven soldiers. They were taking photos of the PoWs, and I gave them the "V" [victory] sign. One officer told the soldiers to open fire on us - it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
"I survived that as well as a death march from near Nuremberg south to Moosburg, before being liberated in August 1945 and returning to kiss my wife once again."
For more information about Syd's home, HarborPlace, call 772-337-4330 or visit www.ptstlucieharborplace.com
Beth Kelley, Sales Director, can be reached toll-free at 1-866-577-4330 to schedule a tour or an interview.