The Prisoner of War No 22 Vol 2 February 1944

February. 194 -).The Prisoner of War WE’RE all quite young people and so have a lot in common. It re­minds one of school, in fact, with members from nearly all parts of .the world. It’s a regular liberal education to come across these people and to mix with them for a period long enough to get to know them and let them show their real selves. We live rather like schoolboys in other ways. The similarity is remarkable. There’s a great interest taken in the vari­ous sports, for instance, and constant matches are organised. Of course, measured by any normal civilian stan­dards, few of us get very much done because there is no direct incentive and rarely any routine, but everyone makes himself feel busy, and personally I never seem to have lime on my hands. Being in prison is rather like being in hospital— nothing to do and everyone outside wondering what they can do in the cheering-up line. This patient is very grateful, anyway. My own idea is that happiness lied in single-minded en­thusiasm for one thing or a series of things. If om can’t find “the thing’ ’—then one must be enthusiastic in the search for it. Results of “Men Only” You ask what life is like without feminine company. That, of course, is a leading question. Everyone would give a ditferent answer. I should say it’s like sailing on a sea without waves or tides. Navigation is too simple you always know where you are. Life, even here, is made up of human relationships, but none is intolerable, none is essential or important. Nothing ever happens which is worth losing any sleepover 011 the other hand, nothing ever makes one day better than another. Enterprise in the Theatre I am attached to one of the larger rooms herewith eight other men. Besides being a charming lot and particularly easy to live with, they are a group which formed itself out of a common enthusiasm for “The Theatre.” The room is a sort of centre for all the camp entertainment, so you can imagine how interesting it is. They have made great strides, and very ambitious ones, aim­ing at putting 011 a show of some kind every two weeks. There is also a scheme for doing short plays with only the barest essential costumes and scenery, mainly for the sake of acting itself. —In Literature With recent books I’m gathering a collection of various types of plays which are evidently popular reading. I’ve lent a number in the recent weeks in prefer­ence to novels. Besides reading, from time to time, I settle down to some writing— decidedly amateurish and lacking in merit. mI’ afraid. So far all the output I can muster is one short play (quite exceptionally bad) and two stories. —In Study A few men here have recently put up creditable performances in examinations, but there is also a strong impression current that studying can easily be over­done (in the absence of suitably contrast­ing relaxation) to the detriment of the mental condition. Probably the best thing is for each individual to do what­ever he feels like doing, but it’s a pretty open question and one that coines in for quite a lot of discussion. The author of these letters is sitting in his bunk. We’re all quite young people, and so have a lot in common. A lot has happened this month. All the men who were with meat the tem­porary camp (XX IB )during April have now moved back hereto Stalag L uft 3. To make room for them, nearly the whole of those who had stayed behind last autumn, together with those who had arrived in the meantime, have gone to a separate part of this camp which has just been completed. We don’ t see any­thing of them at present, but we hope to have some opportunities to do so later Ion. have about an equal number of friends in each group, so I don’t much mind where I am. It is generally con­sidered that the “new” compound will be more comfortable, while we of the “old” have the better camp for spirit. This “Spirit ”This “spirit” is a curiously indefin­able thing. Not optimism or morale or keenness to help and amuse others per­haps“ interestedness” is the nearest word for it. It seems to be fostered by discomfort, and certainly the men from X X IB have had plenty of that. We are still settling in and getting comfortable bit by bit. There always seems to be something to door something I want to read. I never have to make work or wonder what to do next. Pleasures of Parole A slight diversion came along to relieve the monotony of being in.closed A walk for several of us now' happens moderately often, but with seven hundred men it is still very difficult to get everyone out once during the summer. I had my turn, anyway. ofTen us had a little over two hours outside. The great thing was being able to walk through green meadow's, by a river like ours at home. ¦Our Life Different men have different attitudes to life in a prison camp. The article below is made up of extracts from letters written by a young Flying Officer in Stalag Luft 3, who analyses ,his own reactions. as I See It By A FLYINQ OFFICER, P.O.W.
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