Stephen Hargreaves—A Story and Two Postcards

The day after I posted “Stephen Hargreaves—A Soldier Comes to Light”), Steve’s daughter, Julie Barkway, wrote again:

“It is strange how little snippets of conversation keep coming back to us every now and again,” she said. “There was an anecdote that my father used to tell us that went along the lines of something like this:

“He was travelling along some heights in Tunisia with his troop, when they looked down on a very quiet village. My father and a driver took a jeep down to investigate while the rest gave cover from above. Finding the place deserted, both men were heading back to the jeep when a Stuka came diving out of the sky and dropped a bomb which landed between the two men. My father recalls the scream of the plane coming down and then this warm, floating experience, as he was thrown into the air. It seemed to last for an age.

“After a while, he opened his eyes, but said he couldn’t see anything in front of him at all nor could he hear a single sound. He got to his feet, checked himself over, and found no injuries at all. His only conclusion was that he was dead and having an afterlife experience. The driver who had been with him suddenly appeared in front of him like a ghostly white apparition. His mouth was moving like he was trying to say something but my father heard nothing but a ringing in his ears.

“Eventually their senses returned and they realised that they were both, incredibly, still alive. From above, the troop couldn’t believe their eyes when, as the dust settled, they saw both men standing in front of each other laughing. My father always maintained that the deafness he suffered from after the war was due to that incident.”

Also, Steve’s son Peter Hargreaves emailed scans of two postcards to his sister Julie.

The first is a card that every parent of an Allied POW received, notifying them of their child’s capture. This one was sent from P.G. 98, the tent camp that was infamous for its wretched conditions, through which POWs commonly passed on their way to mainland Italy. The second postcard was sent from P.G. 59.

“I read last night one of your posts about Camp 98,” Julie wrote. “It sounded such an horrendous place. It was something my father never mentioned in detail, although he talked a lot about the lice and cockroaches.”

The first card, signed by Steve and sent to his mother and father, reads: 

“I am alright (I have not been wounded). I am a prisoner of the Italians and I am being treated well.

“Shortly I shall be transferred to a prisoner’s camp and I will let you have my new address.

“Only then I will be able to receive letters from you and to reply.”

“With love Steve”

Steve’s card from P.G. 59, dated 26 January 1943, reads:


My own darling Mum & Dad

I am in good health and exuberant spirits. We are being well treated and have a great deal to thank the Red Cross for. They are doing wonderful work. Keep your spirits high. God is with us. It won't be long. Your most loving Steve

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s