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Private Bill: In Love and War

Private Bill: In Love and War by Barrie Cassidy, ISBN: 9780522866131
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ISBN: 9780522866131
Publisher: Melbourne University Publishing
Published: March 2014
Format: Paperback
Language: English
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Editions: 1 other edition of this product

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Private Bill: In Love and War

William (Bill) Cassidy—Barrie's father—survived almost 1500 days as a prisoner of war. He first saw conflict on Crete on 20 May, 1941, when he stood under the only large scale parachute invasion in wartime history. Just four days later, he was lying in a field hospital, wounded and captured. Four years after that, virtually to the day, he woke up at a prison camp in Klagenfurt, Austria, to find the gates flung open and the guards gone. During those years, Bill saw colleagues blown up in front of him. He witnessed the 'murder' of the enemy, with their hands in the air surrendering. He survived a shocking six day journey crammed into a cattle train, an experience that killed others around him. He endured near starvation and extreme cold as part of a work gang in the Austrian alps. He escaped, and helped others escape, and paid the cruel consequences. His wife, Myra, too was a prisoner of sorts, inexplicably refusing to ever leave the house in the small country town where they lived after the war. She had her own secrets. For many months after the Battle of Crete, Myra believed her husband was dead. She had an affair with a local man, gave birth to a son and had the child adopted at birth. Just a few months after the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Crete—when Bill was 80 and Myra 76—a letter arrived for Myra in the mail. The writer said, in part: 'I think you're my mother and I want to meet you.' The revelation opened up old war wounds and threw an otherwise loving couple who had given their lives to one another, into a late life crisis.

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