The Happiest Day of My Childhood

Today is 13 July. On this day 69 years ago, my dear father came home from a POW camp in Germany. I’m not superstitious in general, but that day was Friday 13 and I’ve considered it my lucky day ever since.

Here he is (seated in the first row in the middle) with his mates, all of them doctors, from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He was wearing a British uniform and that complicated matters for him on his return to Zagreb: he was imprisoned, suspected of being a British spy. That episode deserves a story to be written, of course.

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Here he is in the first row flanked by Dr Norman Rose from Australia and Dr Webster from Great Britain. Next to Dr Webster is Padre, but I don’t know his name. In the back row the first on the left is Dr Smith, next to him a Frenchman and a Russian, Dr Makarov, the first on the right. The tallest in the last row is Dr Atkins from Cowra, NSW, Australia. – Stalag 344, Cosel, 5 June 1944.

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Back of the photo above, a postcard he sent me a year before the end of war. His POW number was 19522.

After the war, Dr Norman Rose became superintendent of Sydney Hospital; Dr Webster migrated to Australia and Dr Rose helped him to become superintendent of Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney; and my father migrated to Australia in 1968 to join me and my family. Already in 1965, when my parents came only for a visit, Dr Rose helped my father to get his medical registration in New South Wales. They were very good friends having spent the last two years of war working together, young Dr Rose being  assistant to my father who was the chief surgeon of  the POW hospital.

Yes, that’s my next project, to record a piece of history through my father’s experiences. But first I must finish his WWI story.
Wish me luck!


© 2014 Irina Dimitric




About irinadim

Kookaburra sweet, you neither chirp nor tweet. Your laughter is much like mine, my cackle is much like thine. We are two sister souls, one clad in feathers, the other in clothes. ~ Irina ~ I’m a budding blogger. Poetry and photography are my newest passions, living in perfect harmony inspiring each other. I like both free verse and form poetry and am quite proud to let you know that I am the creator of a new form named ‘tercetonine’. Blog Name: Irina's Poetry Corner Blog URL:
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29 Responses to The Happiest Day of My Childhood

  1. terramere says:

    What an interesting and happy story in terms of his survival of the war. I do look forward to reading your account. Hugs,

  2. Susan Budig says:

    Of course I wish you all the best. Such a compelling story and one so dear to your heart. May you have the energy and wherewithal to see this project to the end.

  3. narami says:

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  4. That will be a lovely thing to do, I wish you well!

  5. pambrittain says:

    This is great, Irina. He sure has an impish grin.

    • irinadim says:

      Thanks, Pam. Yes, you’re right, he was a bit of a larrikin, which the Germans didn’t like much when they found out; it could have cost him his life, but that’s another story to be told.

  6. suzjones says:

    Irina, this is a story that needs to be told. I thoroughly enjoyed your photos and memories.

  7. Aquileana says:

    This year It is going to be the 100 the anniversary since the First World War began… What seems unbelievable is that a Second World War Came after that. Inhumanity and violence can be boundless… It is always nice to celebrate brotherhood and Peace.
    Thanks for sharing your personal story here, dear Irina.
    It was Really touching to read It and I am looking forward to your next post with regard to It.
    Best wishes and many Hugs,
    Aquileana 😀

  8. irinadim says:

    Dear Aquileana, thank you so much for appreciating my story and sharing your thoughts about War, Peace and Brotherhood. It is in times of hardships like war that people forge enduring friendships helping each other to survive. My thoughts are now with my dad’s young life 100 years ago soon to be dragged onto the battlefield. I might post an excerpt from a memoir I’m writing.

    Have a lovely week! Hugs xxx Irina 🙂

  9. Wow, that’s an amazing story, and I love your photos too.

  10. Marion Farmer says:

    Dear Irina, Dr Webster, the man with the large moustache in your photos who emigrated to Australia from Britain, was my uncle Roland, my mother’s brother. I wonder did you ever meet him?
    Best wishes
    Marion Farmer

    • irinadim says:

      Dear Marion,

      I’m so excited to hear from you. Of course, I met him. He was Superintendent of Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. My father kept in touch with Dr Norman Rose, who was his roommate at Kosel, Lamsdorf, and when my father migrated to Australia, Norman, Superintendent of Sydney Hospital, helped him to get medical registration in NSW. It’s weird, when I did that post I couldn’t remember his first name, and this morning I thought it might be Roland. That’s because I ordered the DVD ‘The Long March to Freedom’, I want to write about my dad’s experiences and I want to add a first name to Dr Webster!!!

      I first met your uncle when he was celebrating his birthday at the hospital. He displayed my father’s photo for all to see and introduced him as a guest of honour. They shared jokes about their POW days.

      I’d be very interested to know what your uncle was telling you about that march. I know very little. There is a tiny diary me father kept, but the writing is so miniscule that I can’t decipher it.

      The Internet is really amazing!

      Looking forward to hearing from you.
      Cheers 🙂 Irina

  11. Marion Farmer says:

    Dear Irina
    Indeed the internet is extraordinary. What would we do without it now?
    I am so glad to hear that you did meet my uncle. I am currently busy transcribing the letters he wrote as a POW to his wife (maybe you met her?).He mentions your father quite often in the later letters and indeed you too get a mention as ‘Bog’s’ daughter (unless you have a sister?). My uncle was clearly very fond of your father and admired him as a surgeon. I could send you some excerpts from his letters if you like. I also have some copies of parts of his diaries of 1945 which are difficult to decipher but not totally illegible. I think there are descriptions of part of the march there which I could send you when ready.
    I too am trying to get together some writing about my uncle and his sisters as part of a kind of family history.
    All the best

    • irinadim says:

      Dear Marion,
      We seem to be engaged in the same quest – to record family history. How wonderful you have your uncle’s letters! Webby – that was his nickname. Yes, I met his wife; she always called him Roland, but I can’t remember her name. I remember though when we first invited them for dinner, the rice I served was not cooked properly! I felt so embarrassed. Maybe that dinner was what your uncle remembered about Bog’s daughter. Bad cook! Yes, that’s me, I have no siblings. And I suppose I was spoilt because we had a cook at home in Yugoslavia. Both my mother and I learned to cook in Australia.
      I’d be most grateful to receive every bit of information you are happy to share with me. I am just so thrilled you recognised your uncle in that photo. The task of recording that part of history will be so much easier with your input, and the story enriched. Thank you so much.
      Have a great week! Cheers 🙂 Irina

      • Marion Farmer says:

        Dear Irina
        No stories of uncooked rice have ever reached me! The letters which i have were all written in POW camp, so you were rather small then and still in Zagreb I think. I could put extracts from Roland’s letters which are about your father into a Word file and send it to you as an attachment from my normal email which is Could you give me your email address then I can do that?
        I have some material about the long march from the camp which I found in my uncle’s archive in the Imperial War Museum in London. When his wife moved into a care home ago some years ago some of the items which she had saved, such as his diaries and other descriptions of his experiences were taken into the War Museum. Also when she died a couple of years ago I received his letters. I don’t know if your father is talked about in the diaries, I expect so, but I haven’t transcribed them yet. They are more difficult to read.
        I expect you know there is a lot of material about the Long March online in the BBC archive and in Stalag 8b website etc.
        It is lovely to share this with you. I did keep wondering who ‘old Bog’ was. Now I know a little more!
        All the best

  12. irinadim says:

    Dear Marion,
    Good to hear from you and thank you so much for offering to send me extracts from Roland’s letters. I would appreciate it indeed. I hope it’s not too much trouble. Here’s my email address:

    I didn’t know Dad was called Bog. The other day I found some typed sheets in English, my father’s short biography, written I’d say by your uncle here in Sydney ( He mentions in that article that the hospital in Kosel was run by Dr Kaye-Webster) because it finishes with Bogdan following his daughter to Australia. He describes a complicated operation Dad performed on a German soldier. Most interesting.

    Yes, I’ve been online. I was searching Kosel or Cosel and couldn’t find it. Then I had a good look at one of the letters we wrote to him in Germany and I found the name Lamsdorf on it and the penny dropped, I was so thrilled.

    Looking forward to hearing from you. Happy Valentine’s Day! Irina

  13. irinadim says:

    Reblogged this on Irina's Poetry Corner and commented:

    I’m reblogging this post because today is Friday 13 July, my lucky day!

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