Many years after the deaths of my parents, my aunt handed me a box filled with letters that my father had written to my mother over the period from 1940 to 1945. This was the starting point of a journey for me to rediscover the father I had never really known.
This is the story of John Searancke's parents, told mostly from the side of his father, Eddie Searancke, from the time of his calling up in early 1940 to his release from a prisoner of war camp in Germany in 1945, thence his return to England to try to pick up the pieces of his old life. Nothing could ever be quite the same afterwards.
The letters take listeners through five captivating years, telling of the ups and downs, the plots and counterplots, as Eddie rose through the ranks to end his war as a captain, elevated to that rank in the field as his troops faced the formidable might of the SS Panzers. The letters also reveal where his battle came to an abrupt end, in an orchard surrounded by the enemy and captured after a series of bloody skirmishes as the British army spearheaded its way from the beaches of Normandy. The journey as a prisoner across France and Germany in a truck, with comrades dying each day, may be as hard to listen to as it is to tell, particularly when a new life and new harsh rules had to be learned and rigidly enforced in a prison camp in northern Germany, the final destination.
This is written as part memoir, part fictionalized retelling and partly in letter format; John draws together all sources to recreate the five years of war and hardship that the letters span.
Where does Prunes for Breakfast: One Man's War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
What was one of the most memorable moments of Prunes for Breakfast: One Man's War?
Torn from his cosy well-to-do life as a (very) young company director in Burton on Trent, with its all-pervading smell of roasted hops from the breweries, Private Edward Searancke (the author’s father) is dumped from the back of a removals van into a far less cosy life in the British army. There’s a war on, Hitler is at the gate, and Edward is determined to do his duty – even if it means endless square bashing (torture to his fallen arches), separation from his new bride Elizabeth, and nowhere to park his golf clubs. Yet it is through a combination of golf and grit that he rises rapidly up through the ranks to become a captain, one of the brave many who stormed the beaches at Normandy in 1944.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
I laughed most at the 'politicially important' game of golf that manages to keep the two lovers apart (Elizabeth didn't!)
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
WWII Brit soldier Eddie Searancke gets captured by the Nazis and banged up in a POW holding camp for officers. What’s for breakfast? Oh yes, it’s prunes, and Eddie becomes a very 'regular' soldier indeed.
Any additional comments?
What made the experience of listening to Prunes for Breakfast: One Man's War the most enjoyable?
A quality narration. It brings life to the story without getting in the way.
What did you like best about this story?
A soldier's love for family, country, and his comrades.
Which character – as performed by Nicholas C Jermyn – was your favorite?
The story is about Edward's experience as told by Edward, and he is a very likable and admirable person.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I would never listen through an entire book at once but I always looked forward to my next opportunity to start it up again.
Any additional comments?
I thoroughly enjoyed the story and give it my highest recommendation.