Congratulations to Charles Granquists, 90th Birthday, we’re sure the celebrations will be worthy of this wonderful man.
The long way home for POW Charles
CHARLES Granquist was just 17 years old when World War II broke out.
So, like many others, he lied about his age and enlisted in the army as fast as he could.
The young Charles didn’t want his mates to leave without him – even though he knew what might lie ahead.
His father was a World War I veteran, and that traumatic experience had “knocked him about badly”.
Port Macquarie’s Mr Granquist said soldiers’ 1914 to 1918 experiences were very much in the national conscience when war again broke out in 1939.
“The original diggers went to war because of a sense of duty and adventure,” the now 90-year-old said.
“There was a different feeling at the outbreak of World War II. For us, it was about necessity.”
Mr Granquist left Australia on January 10, 1940, just four months after the invasion of Poland by Germany, which triggered World War II.
He was with the 2/4th Infantry Battalion, bound for the Middle East, where he arrived on February 14.
For the next 10 months the 2/4th, part of the Second Australian Imperial Force’s 6th Division,
trained in preparation for their place in history.
The battalion first saw action against the Italians in eastern Libya. Then it was on to Bardia and Tobruk.
In April 1941, the 2/4th arrived in Greece to take on the Germans.
Mr Granquist, a signaller, was wounded and, on May 9, was captured. He spent the rest of the hostilities
as a prisoner of war (POW memoir of his time in captivity and his efforts to escape his captors.
In A Long Way Home, he describes the shame he felt becoming a POW.
Driven by a sense of duty, he tried five times to escape the Germans. In every attempt, he was “highly unsuccessful”.
“When it came to being an escape artist, I was a good soldier,” Mr Granquist said.
“And I was a soldier. I wanted to get out and it [escaping] gets in your blood.”
Mr Granquist said the Germans considered escapees “criminals”.
Each time Charles was recaptured, he would be sent to a camp for interrogation and then to another camp for “disciplinary measures”.
“But then they would put all the escapees together,” the father-of four said. “It created a brotherhood among us.”
Mr Granquist remembers the Germans as good soldiers.
“They were well equipped, they outnumbered us and had air supremacy,” he said. “You just do your best, that’s all you can do.”
Mr Granquist said he felt a great sense of satisfaction when he completed the book.
“I was pleased I was able to complete it at this stage of my life,” he said. (He was 87years old at the time)
“It keeps you off the streets.”
Extract from article in Advocatenews
Charles Granquists book A Long Way Home is available in Ebook or Paperback.
Charles has also contributed to Soldiers Tales 2 (available online now)