Missing in Action (or My War as a Prisoner of War)
by Denys Cook
Trafford Publishing

"Looking back at my POW experiences I am of the strongest opinion that all Armed Service personnel should be carefully taught about 'Prisoner of War Obligations Rights and Privileges' and most importantly about the Red Cross."

Born in 1920, Welshman Denys Cook, a tough amateur boxer, enlisted in the military as a teenager. He was soon sent to war; shortly after arriving in France, he was captured by the Germans and remained a POW for the duration. His many innate talents—writing, graphic arts, language facility—became survival skills amid harsh treatment by the captors he calls Goons. His secret diaries vividly recorded his experiences. At first given starvation rations and dressed in rags, NCO Cook later discovered that prisoners were entitled to certain basic protections and could receive Red Cross packages containing food, tobacco, and the all-important chocolate, useful as black-market currency. "Adopted" by an office back home and one secretary in particular, buoyed by his family’s gifts and letters, Cook was freed as the war ended. He then weighed 98 pounds, "whereas in 1937/38... I had been boxing for the Welsh Guards in the 185 lb. class."

POW Cook learned shorthand, became proficient in German and Polish, and staged boxing matches as well, always the winner. His account shines as a plainly written description of conditions that few could tolerate, and even these hardy young men, over time, yielded to disease and occasional savage treatment from the Goons. Proving that truth can be as romantic as fiction, Cook later met and married the secretary who sent him provisions and encouragement during his imprisonment. His book, containing some of his own artwork, is remarkable for having been composed in his later years, his memory bolstered by his carefully preserved diaries. Missing in Action should be read by students of WWII and anyone wishing to understand the privations and occasional small triumphs of men in captivity.

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