Bridget Cooper

* 1956

  • “And then he always told us and we all know the story, that in the end of the war, he escaped from a working party. And he and another man, just as they were they going, I don’t know if it was to or from the work camp, they just walked off into the wood. Luckily nobody saw them. And it was late in the war, near the end of the war. And he just said they made their way over the mountains, over the border, into Czech. And when they got to Czech, they got a lot of help from the Czech Resistance. My oldest brother thinks he said that he actually fought with the Czech resistance, but I don’t think he ever told me that. So, we’re not quite sure about that. But then he told us that the Czech resistance basically hid him in the woods, in the mountains, and that every night they would come down, the prisoners, they were several Prisoners of War escaped, they would come down into the village and there, they would be fed. And they would all sit around a table with a big pot in the middle of the table. And they all had a spoon, and they all dipped their spoons in a very large pan. He told us this story many times. That was the big story that he always told us about. And he said that some of the Czechs would watch out for the Germans or even distract them at the other end of the village, so they could come down and get something to eat, and to wash sometimes.”

  • “Here is the blacksmith, Ferdinand Stejskal and his wife Maria, here is my father, and I think these two are Ferdinand's sons. And here, one of the Svobodová sisters. Her eldest sister is here, she is turning around. Their names and Ferdinand's were on the postcard I found in my dad’s documents. These other people are soldiers, I presume. I’m hoping that if I put in on the internet when I get home, we might find somebody else with a little bit of luck.”

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Praha, 22.06.2023

    délka: 01:51:04
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Příběhy 20. století TV
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

The Czechs were guarding the Prisoners of War, feeding them and hiding them, at a time when it was very dangerous

Bridget Cooper, 2023
Bridget Cooper, 2023
zdroj: Post Bellum

Bridget Cooper was born on 7th November 1956 in South Yorkshire. Her father, originally from Aberdeen in Scotland, moved to South Yorkshire after the Second World War, met a nurse Kathleen, got married and had six children, to whom he was telling stories about the War, always picking the positive side, and never mentioning the atrocities and horrors that he shall had lived. Bridget’s father James Carle was born on 23rd March 1922. When the world was preparing for the Second World War, James was just sixteen years old, so he lied to be eligible to join the army in 1939. He was trained in the regiment of the Gordon Highlanders, in the north of Aberdeen. Once the War broke out, the Gordon Highlanders were one of the first sent in September 1939 to France to fight the Nazi Germany. He was captured Nazis on 12th June 1940 in Saint Valerie, thus ten months after the beginning of the War. The Prisoners of War marched through France, Belgium, and Holland to Germany, when James Carle was interned in the Lamsdorf camp (Stalag VIIIB) and was being sent to different forced labour camps around. In the end of 1944 or possibly in January 1944, he managed to escape with another prisoner, and crossed the border mountains to the Czech region of Orlickoústecko. He reached the village of Letohrad-Orlice, where the Czech resistance took care of him together with another 15 Prisoners of War of different nationalities until the end of the War. Bridget’s family had just a general idea about their father’s fate in the last months of the Second World War, based on his stories, and in December 1999 James Carle passed away. It was until 2020, after the passing of their mother, when Bridget found a box with documents. One of them was a postcard of Lamsdorf, with three Czech names written by her father’s hand. With help of a couple of Czech historians, she managed to visit Letohrad-Orlice in June 2023, where she met the relatives of the locals who had helped to survive to those Prisoners of War, including her father.