Having a beer with 'the enemy' underlines futility of war

THE following is a true story. Well, all my stories are true, but this one happens to be truer than the others ...

In the late 1970s, my grandfather was propping up the bar at the Innisfail RSL when a stranger appeared in the doorway and announced with a heavy German accent, "I am looking for Charles Scott!"

Now, Charlie had spent much of the Second World War delivering iron to Germany - iron wrapped around high explosive charges, dropped from a great height - so it was very unlikely that anyone with a German accent was going to thank him for his efforts.

"I want to thank you!" said the German, shaking Charlie's extremely surprised hand.

Then the stranger pulled a photo out of his pocket and showed it to Charlie.

It was picture of his old Lancaster bomber, somewhere over Europe, surrounded by tracer fire.

"Where the hell did you get this from?!" asked Charlie.

The German chap smiled.

"This was the last photo my machine gun camera took when I attacked your plane.

"Then your gunners shot me down and I was captured. For me the war was over, but my life was saved that night, so I have travelled the world looking for the crew of this plane to thank them."

Charlie bought him a beer and wondered, not for the first time, about the stupidity of war.

He never really got his head around it, but the booze sort of helped.

And last week, 100 years after the war to end all wars, and 70 odd years after the next one, I sat in a German pub, drinking beer with a nice German chap, and remembered Charlie.

We didn't mention the war.

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