Table Of Contents
Background and Acknowledgements
The Desert Wilderness
Caserta & Lucca Hospitals
Montreux & Vevey
Prelude to Frontier Three
3. Mackie |
4. The Heroic French Resistance
Foreword by Sir de Villiers Graaff, DMS, MBE
POW life is a severe and merciless test of character. In the case of Jeff Morphew it revealed a man of immense courage, great determination and a remarkable innovative ability. From the moment he got on the way to recovering from his wounds he had only one purpose in life—to escape and get back into the fight—and for this he was prepared to make the greatest sacrifices. That he achieved both these objectives and flew again in the great battles in northern Europe is striking evidence of these characteristics. True, he was helped by loyal and faithful friends, but he earned their loyalty and justified their faith.
His story is in many respects unique, and not only because he was the only South African POW to escape from Italy into Switzerland before the Italian collapse. He makes light of his privations and is very frank about his fears. He is a deeply religious man and has an abiding faith which carried him through. His descriptions of conditions then prevailing in the camps at Chieti and Modena and the difficulties of escaping are devilishly accurate. The picture he paints of the boredom, the frustration, the hunger, the bitterness and the idealism will bring back many memories to old POW’s.
Of course, he was immensely lucky at times—fortune does smile on those with guts and courage.
He was lucky not to have been killed when shot down in the desert and strafed on the ground by the enemy, he was lucky not to have succumbed to septicemia in the Italian POW casualty clearing stations and hospitals, he was lucky not to have been asked for his papers despite routine inspections by Security Officers on his train journey to the Swiss border, and he was luckier still to have met Joyce in Switzerland and to have wooed and won her.
But what stands out above all else is the resourcefulness of the man—pretending to be about to vomit when accosted by a conductor, feigning that he was deaf and dumb when addressed by a friendly Italian, stripping off his clothes to worm his way through a small hole in the frontier fence. He would never accept defeat. He deserved to make it.
De Villiers Graaff, DMS, MBE
Adjutant South African Bungalow Chieti Camp
Camp Adjutant Modena Camp
Liaison Officer to Escape Committees, Chieti and Modena and several other camps