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Barbed-Wire Blues (ePub)

A Blinded Musician’s Memoir of Wartime Captivity 1940-1943

WWII Prisoners Of War Memoirs Military

By Bernard Harris
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 12.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781526783875
eBook Released: 13th May 2021

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As the author, a young Army bandsman lies wounded at the Battle of Corinth, he is shot between the eyes at point blank range. Miraculously he survives but is blinded. In a makeshift hospital a young Greek volunteer saves his life with slices of boiled egg. Captured Allied medics later restore the sight in one eye.

In this moving and entertaining memoir Bernard describes daily life in POW camps in Greece and Germany. He established a theatrical group and an orchestra who perform to fellow POWs and their German guards. A superb raconteur, as well as a gifted musician, the author’s anecdotes are memorably amusing. Bernard was repatriated via Sweden in late 1943.

While blinded in one eye and seriously wounded, the author was told by his New Zealand doctor, fellow POW and musician John Borrie, ‘When nothing else will do, music will always lift one up’. Barbed Wire Blues’ inspirational, ever optimistic tone will surely have the same effect on its readers.

Well for a start in reviewing this book you have to say Wow, a young man shot between the eyes from point-blank range and he manages to survive is a feat in itself. In essence, this is a story of a young man who is then sent to a prisoner of war camp where he is looked after and goes on to survive through the help of fellow prisoners who are medically trained. He then in a way of giving back starts to set up entertainment for his fellow prisoners, by setting up a choresta and theatrical group. In a book that starts off in a dark way, that could have so easily ended in a sad way, it turns into a very good feel-good story that is quite uplifting. This book also takes you through the daily ‘normal’ day-to-day life of a prison camp which is a good read, and it does differ well from other prisoner of war camp stories. This book looks less at the usual escape attempts but concentrates on lifting people of the camp through entertainment. A thoroughly good book and an excellent read, one I would heartily recommend to other people.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

As featured by

Hereford Times, 4th February 2021

About Bernard Harris

Bernard Harris was born in Herefordshire in 1917. He left school at 14. With a deep love of music, he paid for his own organ lessons, worked as an organist, and joined a Concert Party as a pianist.


Bernard joined the British Army as a bandsman and was posted to Greece. Captured at the Battle of Corinth 1940, blinded and badly wounded, he was a POW until being repatriated in 1943. He was awarded the Military Medal.


Post-war Bernard became a successful composer and musical director. His film credits included, appropriately, Adolph Hitler - My Part in his Downfall and Dad’s Army.


He married Marie in 1940 and they had two daughters. After Marie died unexpectedly in 1974, Bernard re-married. He died in West Clandon, Surrey in 1990.

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