A Misplaced Kindness?

28 September, 1918. A crossroads in the French village of Marcoing. Private Henry Tandey, of the 5th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment’s 5th Battalion, encounters a wounded, fatigued German soldier. The enemy does not even raise his rifle, although Private Tandey has the man in his sights.

Tandey is no coward. Earlier the same day, he crawled toward a German machine gunner that had pinned his platoon. Taking the gunner out, he then proceeded to repair a damaged bridge while under heavy machine gun fire. Later the same day, when an overwhelming force of Germans surrounded him and eight of his comrades, he lead a bayonet charge that drove thirty-seven of the enemy into the welcoming embrace of the rest of his company.

But it is late in the day. The battle is over and won. What could it hurt to show the slightest bit of human kindness? Tandey holds his fire. The wounded German nods his thanks and continues on.

Thus, did Henry Tandey, Private and future Victoria Cross (VC), Distinguished Conduct metal (DCM), and Military Metal (MM) recipient, allow one corporal Adolf Hitler to live.

Or did he?

Normandy crosses

Another Shoa


for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Kindness (posted by Susan)

Read the story of Private Henry Tandey, V.C., DCM, MM.


14 replies »

  1. It’s an awful irony, but one man’s soul still made a good choice. On Passover, we are asked to remember the worst unkindness-es of all, including Shoa. But must we become killers to stop the killing? The questions are too full of horror, too full of lose/lose–unless miracles occur. This poem speaks volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remembered the story of an English private sparing Hitler’s life during WWI. The story provoked a haunting question: can kindness ever be the wrong choice? I shudder to think, and can only say, “deliver us from evil.” Thanks for your kind feedback! 😀


  2. a very philosophical question There is no simple answer I think he has done the right thing He did what he had to do and could afford to let the German go. I think your intuition should do the work here. I think people shouldn’t loose humanity even when there is war. Not all Germans were bad In the movie the final days you see Hans and Sophy Scholl who were executed when standing up to Hitler. There were a lot of followers though and that’s why philosophy should be thought at school that people not blindly follow but learn to question things and like in Stoicism become there best possible version.
    Great writing


  3. “What could it hurt to show the slightest bit of human kindness?”….An appalling and baffling question. But I feel ‘kindness’ can’t be sacrificed. It’s what makes us a human being. A very nice piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, how disturbing is this thought that a moment of kindness can lead to such horrors! The philosophical premise is powerful in how there is a flaw to almost every answer we may want to seek through it. A very interesting and thoughtful take on kindness, Frank!

    Liked by 1 person

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