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Harry's Boys

Richard Barker

At the outbreak of the Second World War, German troops are storming through Europe. Englishman Harry, having settled in Brussels, has to get away... fast! But what of his two young Belgian born sons, Paul and Stephen?

They head for the northern French coast but are unable to cross the English Channel to safety. They eventually find themselves holed up in a small fishing village in southern Brittany.

As the German machine closes in on the remote village, they witness a refugee ship steam by. Harry knows that going after this ship by sea is his last chance to get away and agrees an escape with a local fisherman. As they wait on the quay, Harry is told that things have changed and now there is no room in the little fishing boat for the children.

Does he leave his boys behind and take this last chance to escape alone or stay with his sons and face the Nazis?

A true tale of a father's heartache and his sons' strength in adversity.

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I was born in 1957 in Lusaka, which was the capital of what was then known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. I was sent to boarding school in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, at the age of seven and then on to school in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 1972 all of us left South Africa and journeyed by ship to England where, on arrival, my two brothers and I were dispatched off to boarding school once more. I have remained in England all my life and am the father of three beautiful daughters. I now live in the Kent countryside with my wife and our retriever dog.

It was only after my first child was born in 1987 that I became interested in the childhood of my father. I knew nothing about where he was born, who his parents were or what kind of childhood he had had. Dad was English, as far as I knew, and my mother was Swedish. A strange mix one would think. I had no recollection of meeting his father, my grandfather, or my grandmother for that matter.

On a visit to his retirement home in Biscarrosse, just south of Bordeaux, I asked him if he would write a little about his younger life so I could tell my children about him and his family. He said he would have a go and no more was said. He had never spoken to me about his childhood and did not seem keen to do so.

Sadly, in 1992, he passed away. A few years later the subject of Dads' history came up and I asked Mum if he had put anything in writing. She told me that he had and sent me the f