Belfast, 1942


Alexander Best

“Belfast, 1942″



“Mrs. Thompson, I’ll take your Aileen to The Camp,

and she’ll play for the P.O.W.s.

Are you agreeable to it?”

“Aye, Mr. Nutt – she can play, so take her.”


And the Rev. James Nutt took 11-year-old Aileen

to The Camp – in his little Austin car.

At the barb-wire gate British soldiers let the minister pass

– and the child.

Inside the Nissen hut was a large platform and

an upright piano upon it.

Those foreign fellows had bombed

blitzed – Belfast


shot down,

they were now the luckiest of boys

– would have God’s grace in this far-off place.


And the child knew every chord progression for Luther’s hymn:

A Mighty Fortress is Our God.

And the young German prisoners sang strong in their

own tongue:  Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.


After she’d played the hymns Aileen was

borne aloft the shoulders of a Tommy and

off they were to the NAAFI canteen where she got a

Rock Bun and a beaker of cocoa – her first time of

hot chocolate.


And, tasting that flavour, she thought to herself:

Those wee Germans know all our same hymns !