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EX-POW who solved religious mystery in book joy
8:00am Sunday 20th January 2013 in News
A FORMER prisoner of war who helped to solve a 60-year mystery about a missing religious artefact has had his memoirs translated into German and put on sale in a museum.
Ernest Hall, of Dudley Road, Clacton, was last year honoured in Zittau, where he spent 18 months after being captured during the Second World War.
The 91-year-old was a gunner in the Territorial Artillery Regiment and was taken prisoner after being captured in Tobruk.
He spent the end of the war at a working camp in the east German town of Zittau.
Mr Hall helped the town solve the puzzle of how a 15th Century Lenten veil, used to cover up a Crucifix in the run-up to Easter, was inexplicably discovered on the slopes of nearby Mount Oybin.
He revealed he transported several cases from the town museum to the mountain for safekeeping while he was a prisoner.
He said: “While there I unknowingly played a tiny role in the 550-year history of the Great Zittau Lenten Veil, a unique textile artefact that is the town’s pride and joy.
“I have become something of a celebrity when, in recent years, I have been able to visit Zittau on four occasions - as a free man.
“I celebrated my 90th birthday with friends I have made there and was welcomed with my family to a civic champagne reception by the mayor.”
On his return, Mr Hall self-published his memoirs, called'Zittau and I', and sent copies to his friends in the town.
It has since been translated and published in hardback with an introduction written by Dr Volker Dudeck, a distinguished historian and former curator of the Zittau Town Museum.
“They are selling it in the shop at the town museum, which is so pleasing,” said Mr Hall.
“They get 30,000 visitors a year coming to the town to see the veil - they compare it to the Bayeux Tapestry.”
Any profits will go towards the preservation and display of the historic veil.