(Horace Greasley confronts Nazi leader, Heinrich Himmler, through the fence)
At the young age of 20, Horace Joseph Greasley - otherwise known as Jim – was working at a hairdresser when the Second World War was on the edge of beginning. Upon the news that Hitler had invaded Czechoslovakia both he and his twin brother, Harold, were eligible for call-up and were quickly conscripted for the first draft. He was a private with the 2nd/5th Leicestershire Regiment when he was captured by the Germans during the British retreat from Dunkirk in May 1940. In his book ‘Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?’ Greasley retells his haunting, moving and his heart-breaking romantic memories while remaining as a prisoner of the German’s in a Prisoner of War camp in Poland.
After Greasley’s passing on the 4th of February back in 2010, we here at John Blake had decided to meet – and spend the day – with Horace’s wife, Brenda. Brenda had met Horace in 1971 at a fancy dress party, shortly becoming friends, and were later married in 77. For 25 years, both Horace and Brenda spent their retirement in Spain together, before Brenda returned to the UK following Horace’s passing.
(Brenda Greasley during our visit to her home)
(Horace and Brenda during their years in Spain)
Originally self-published, Greasley’s book has garnered the attention of many readers across the globe, with many to find his retellings show humility ‘evident with every word you read.’ And continue to be moved by his heart breaking retelling of the German woman he fell in love with. Greasley would continuously escape from the confinements of his cell in the midst of the night to visit her. Though German, Rosa also ran a great risk as she was secretly half Jewish and worked as a Translator within the camp. Horace reveals the pain and trauma of losing so many friends among the troops, as well as enduring a ten week march across Europe before being imprisoned in a PoW camp for several years. With the Daily Mail describing his work as a ‘testament to the enduring power of love,’ it also topped the Sunday Times bestseller charts.
Since then, film rights were optioned for the adaptation of the book, and it also became a number one Bestseller in the category for ‘German political biographies,’ to which Brenda believes that Horace is ‘still fighting the Nazi’s from the Grave.’
Horace passed away before John Blake acquired the rights for his biography, but he is at peace knowing that his story was told to the world.
(The last photo taken of Horace, during his 91st Birthday)
Horace's book: 'Do The Birds Still Sing in Hell?' is now available.
Find more about it here