The Medal

By: Anne Corke

Dec 27 2011

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Category: Life stories

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One day, when Jeremy was just a little boy, Grandpa asked him what he was building with his blocks. He answered “a prison”, to which Grandpa replied that he’d better add some windows. Jeremy thought otherwise but Grandpa was insistent saying that it wasn’t right to build a prison without windows. Little did this little boy know that his Grandpa had personal experience of prisons, having been a prisoner of war in Italy and in Germany during WWII. This Christmas I gifted Grandpa’s St Christopher medal to Jeremy, the one that he wore throughout the war, the one that swung from his neck as his submarine patrolled the waters of the Mediterranean, the one that rested against his chest in the prison camp in Italy while he was being interrogated, the one that chilled his skin as he and his companion travelled through the hills of Italy, on the run and living rough, in the winter of 1943/44, the one he was wearing when he was betrayed and recaptured by the Germans, the one that was a symbol of hope during his long incarceration in the prison camp in Germany, the one he was still wearing when he finally returned home to England, to his family. According to my father, this medal, green enamel on silver, kept him safe during the war years. Although not a Catholic and not even a particularly religious man, Dad was a great believer in St Christopher’s powers of protection. I have had the medal in my keeping since Dad died in 1991. Jeremy doesn’t remember much of his grandfather (he was only six when Dad died) but I know how much Grandpa loved him and I know he would have loved to watch him grow up. I see so much of my Dad in Jeremy that I’m sure they would have been great friends. I will continue to try to keep his memory, and that of my mother, too, alive for Jeremy. And I’m hoping that this medal will help him to remember that his grandfather loved him. I’m sure he would approve of this gift, and I’m sure he’ll have a word with St Christopher and ask him to look after Jeremy, too.

Copyright 2011 Anne Corke

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