When hostilities broke out, amongst the many who joined in the first rush of volunteers was a newlywed farmer, a young man with much to look forward to, a loyal and pretty wife he was devoted to, a farm he was secure on, and a bright future.
Two years later he was killed in action.
His widow inherited the farm, and unable or unwilling to carry on, sold it, moved into town, then remarried. The fresh marriage was a happy one, with children.
Some time after the cessation of hostilities, in a country full of soldiers making their way home from the war, the husband turned up in town. Very much alive, and repatriated from the Japanese Prisoner-of-War camp where it turned out he had spent the war, he was ready to take up the life that had been suspended when he joined up.
Apprehensively arriving on foot at the farm (it was only a few miles from town) and not quite knowing what to expect after such an abscence without any communication, he made no sound and showed no emotion as the farmer who now owned his farm briefly explained matters.
The hollow eyes of the man who had experienced Two years on the front line, then Three and a Half years as a prisoner of the Japanese, looked directly into the eyes of one who had obtained his farm through remaining a civilian, as the civilian gave directions to the house in town where the wife now lived.
(This story is well known by Mine Host, as the man who bought the farm was his uncle)
Silently the returned serviceman tramped back to town, without having once put down the kitbag he carried. It contained the few possessions of one demobbed after repatriation from Changi.
Several hours later the farmer observed the returned serviceman trudging along the tracks to the water tower just out of town, to sit on the platform there.
Having walked to town, visited the house where the woman whose memory had sustained him through several years of captivity now lived with her husband & children, spoken with both of them, discovered that the proceeds of the farm sale had been dissipated through financial indiscipline, agreed that no aspect of the situation could be undone, then instead of walking to the railway station, walked along the tracks to the platform a few miles out, by what had been his farm.
He boarded the first train that stopped for water. It is not remembered now if it was an Eastbound or Westbound train.