independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Family affair turned into a searing tale

A relaxed and erudite crowd turned up at Cafe H, the tapas bar owned by Rita Crosbie, for David Blake Knox's first book launch last Thursday.

The veteran film- and documentary-maker has written Suddenly While Abroad, Hitler's Irish Slaves, about a group of 32 Irish merchant seamen captured by the SS and held in a labour camp from 1943-45. The story is clearly very close to his heart – one of the 32 seamen was a cousin of his father.

"I always thought he was a soldier, killed in the war. I found that instead he was a PoW in a Nazi camp. No one spoke of it.

"There was a huge reluctance of those who participated in the war, including my father, to talk about it," David told me.

Harry Crosbie, who launched the book, described it as "an amazing story of how these men were abandoned by the State".

Joe Duffy, Sam Smyth, and Tom Inglis all turned out to hear David's stirring speech as did Fiona Murray, a researcher with the Gerry Ryan Show for many years, who worked on David's recent documentary, Gerry.

She told me that she would love to see a second documentary, describing the death of Gerry as being "like a Shakespearean tragedy," and deserving of "a follow-up".

And, of course, support was very much a family affair. David's wife Debbie, his daughters Sarah and Kirsty, and son Jamie all turned out, as well as Kirsty's boyfriend, actor Brian Bennett, who told me he's preparing to tour Germany with The Company, the post-modern, audience-friendly theatre company he set up.

Irish Independent

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