Horace Greasley, known as Jim to his friends, joined the British army in 1939. His regiment landed in Normandy, and while the rest of the army retreated to Dunkirk, he and his comrades were ordered to stay behind and fight off the advancing Germans. Soon the exhausted regiment was cornered after they dared to grab a nap in a barn south of Lille, France.
They surrendered and were forced to march for ten weeks to Holland. Many of his fellow soldiers died during the trek; Greasley survived by eating plants and insects by the roadside, and by the food that the occasional villager would sneak to the men as they passed by. They then took a three-day train ride without food or water to reach a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland.