Corporal Ray Sheriff
Quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford
John Lord went on to describe the moving circumstances in which Ray Sheriff arrived at Stalag XIB, a memory always recalled by him with great emotional strain.
In the Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment I had a Corporal Ray Sheriff, he was a very good Corporal of great spirit, a good athlete and boxer and he had fought with the Battalion in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Arnhem. In searching through our men and trying to get accounts of what had happened to them, I could find no trace of Corporal Sheriff.
We had been in the prison camp for three months with still no news when I heard that he was in the German reception hut and was in bad shape. I collected together what few cigarettes I could and using my pass, which enabled me to move around a little, I went to the reception hut.
I can see this long low gloomy hut now, packed with men of different nationalities. I looked around for Corporal Sheriff and eventually saw him to my far left—sitting on the floor with his head hanging down. He was dressed in some strange uniform which had been provided for him. I walked over to him and said, "Hello Corporal Sheriff, how are you getting on?" and that Corporal—three months after the battle—with no great cause to love me at all, with great dignity stood up to attention, faced me and said, "Hello Sir, it's good to hear your voice." and I realised that he was blind … this was the most harrowing experience I think of my whole life. I don't claim—I would not claim that he was saying this to me personally, but here he was for the first time after all the suffering of the past three months, and he heard a voice from the family. Even in those circumstances he felt that he was back with the family …"
Placing aside John Lord's account again, Ray Sheriff writes: "I was rather a late-comer to the camp as I dropped off at a couple of hospitals en route to see if anything could be done for my sight and to operate on my poorly leg."
"I shall never forget this day, a bitterly cold day in mid January, 1945.1 was carried into a hut by two Germans who placed me on a pile of straw on the floor of a wooden hut. I gathered from the volume of noise that the interior was pretty full and all the voices were foreign. I learned later that the majority were Polish. I felt alone, helpless and not a little frightened, and I drifted into half sleep. Suddenly I heard a voice and could I believe it was it a dream? Instinctively I stood to attention as the voice of RSM John Lord enquired about me! I honestly think that this instant proved to be the turning point for me. Life would be okay again, and I would describe my meeting on that occasion with J.C. as a life-saver."
[John Lord] went on to close his lecture with the words, "Even in those circumstances Corporal Sheriff felt that he belonged again, and he was back in the bosom of the family. Now that's soldiering, that's spirit, that's understanding. That's all the things I've been trying to say."