BY DORRIEN BELSON
Caught! Prisoner of War Number 487
BENTWYCK HENRY PUBLISHERS, £14.99
There were hundreds, indeed thousands, of prisoners of war between 1939 and 1945. Of these many wrote accounts of their experiences. Dorrien Belson has waited nearly 60 years before publishing his experiences of life in no less than six camps in Germany and Poland after having been captured at Dunkirk.
The resulting book greatly benefits from the wait and his recollection of those times is correspondingly mature and evocative.
The story he tells is all the more readable and interesting for being straightforward and is not an escape narrative but an account of comparatively ordinary events during imprisonment which provoked thoughts and reflections which are highly relevant to everyday life.
Belson came of an illustrious military family for whom, therefore, the privation of active participation in the war was very much part of the punishment and frustration he experienced. It is also related to his conversion to Catholicism.
He had not intended to publish his experiences but merely to leave them to be read by his family. He was persuaded, however, to share them with and for the public at the advice of various friends including the late Duke of Norfolk.
The author does not give detailed reasons for his decision to seek instruction for becoming a Catholic. It is clear, however, that his long years in confinement provided providential time for deep thinking on the subject and the description of his experience and its effect on his family is movingly told.
This is a book that cannot be too highly recommended.