Charles Granquist Port Macquarie local and Prisoner Of War, WWII.
For 94 year old author, Port Macquarie local and WW2 Prisoner Of War, Charles Granquist, his experiences as a POW in Germany provide him with a perspective on our future that is drawn from seeing the horror of war and a true respect for how extremely lucky we are. The need to look to our future and the preservation of our world is steeped in his soul.
The son of a World War I veteran, Charles Granquist was 17 when war was declared with Germany in 1939. He lied about his age, joined the infantry and was sent to Egypt. Like so many other young men at the time, Granquist did not know what to expect. All he really cared about was doing his duty and serving his country. He never even contemplated his chances of becoming a prisoner of war – he was there to fight and take prisoners.
He served with his battalion in Bardia, Tobruk, Derna and Benghazi before being wounded in Greece in 1941 and captured by the Germans. Granquist then experienced life as a Prisoner of War and was incarcerated in a number of different European prison camps as he went through an amazing journey of escape, recapture and punishment.
He orchestrated a remarkable five escape attempts, all of which ended unsuccessfully. Granquist recalls “the scariest part of this escaping caper was the point of re-capture. Staring down the barrels of a number of rifles and wondering whether some nervous and trigger-happy German might tighten his finger, was to say the very least, discomforting.”
Yet Charles refused to give up, determined to fulfil his duty as an Aussie Digger and make his own small contribution to the war effort.
In his memoir, A Long Way Home, available at Bookface, he describes his shame at becoming a POW and how he believed he had failed himself, his mates and as a soldier. His story takes the reader on the rollercoaster of escape, recapture and 196 days of solitary confinement before his eventual return home with his Russian war bride.
Of the 5350 Australian Prisoners of War in Germany, as of December 2015 Granquist is one of only 49 remaining and now resides in Port Macquarie with his second wife, Wendy. Granquist’s account of his wartime experiences adds another important chapter to the story of Australian World War II POWs, while showcasing the spirit, humour, persistence and ingenuity expected of an Aussie Digger. A Long Way Home is tribute to one veteran’s spirit and the mateship he still holds so dear today.