As a young lad of 10 years old, and having experienced the hardships brought about by the Second World War, FIL, in his more communicative periods, would relay the odd war-time story to me.
Living in Heraklion, Crete, his father executed for aiding the English in the war, his mother raised him and his 3 brothers, by whatever means she could. Without the luxury of an education, she would turn him onto the streets during the day to find work or food.
One particular day, he`d witnessed a small patrol of German soldiers seated at the edge of the road. They`d humiliated him making some joke in German and laughing in his general direction. He`d put his head down and walked away, inwardly furious. His anger simmered below the surface for the remaining afternoon, and despite his young years he formulated his plan for revenge. Observing the soldiers from a distance and discreetly following them on their patrol, he waited for his chance. They moved on and stopped in a shady doorway, propping their rifles against the wall and continued to engage in light conversation over their rollies. Seizing the opportunity, not only to potentially make a little money as a result of his deed, but to teach a lesson to his humiliators, he crept up close, grabbed the nearest rifle and ran for his life. It was several seconds till the soldier realized what had happened, and took chase.
Of course, FIL was caught, the rifle retrieved and appropriate “good hiding” was issued by the embarrassed but angry soldier.
Some months later, as the war was coming to an end, on another of FIL`s food/work search missions, he happened to bump into the same soldier. Afraid of continued reprisals, he`d turned to scurry away, when the soldier called him to approach. In a brief moment of gesticulation and incomprehensible German, he`d pulled FIL gently to the open door of a shop, where he shoved at him a large box of provisions, rarities in those days, such as flour, sugar, butter, with even a piece of cheese. Mouth agape and speechless with this act of kindness, he`d galloped home to share his good fortune with his mother. Upon seeing the box of provisions, knowing that such treasures weren`t normally within their economic abilities, his mother angrily accused him of stealing, whereupon, she set about him and gave him another good hiding!