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77 And Still Behind The "8" Ball

The life and times of a WWII refugee Vol 2: settling in Australia and late in life, still battling many local wars.


To all the refugees who first became 'New Australians' and then earned the title, 'Australians.'

My thanks to Judith Tobin who edited my efforts and knew where commas have to go.

77 And Still Behind The "8" Ball

By Andrew Kepitis-Andrews

The life and times of a WWII refugee Vol 2. settling in Australia and late in life, still battling many local wars.

Desktop Publishing by Wordright


© Copyright 2018 Andrew Kepitis-Andrews

This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or reviews, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process, stored in a retrieval system, or transmit-ted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from the copyright holder. Enquiries should be made to the publisher.

First edition published: 2018

Kepitis-Andrews, Andrew, 1940 –

Cover design mostly by Colin McCarthy and The Australian Archives

Also By Andrew Kepitis-Andrews

Mostly Behind The “8” Ball (2014)

Take It Easy (2015)

Dollars From Heaven (2015)

Easy Does It (2015)

The Seeing Eye Crocodile (2016)

Jeb’s Legacy (2017)















About The Author


I suppose it’s not the done thing, carrying on an autobiography some four years after writing the first one. However, it’s been a hectic four years and I’ll let the reader be the judge.

Just a quick recap for those who don’t know what I’m talking about and then those who have forgotten. Born in Latvia during the German occupation in WW2, I was soon to become a refugee as my mother hurriedly grabbed me and my older sister, intending to take us to Sweden where the advancing Russians couldn’t touch us. My father, a well-known concert pianist and composer stayed behind because my parents had been newly divorced. I didn’t know what that meant but soon learned he wasn’t coming. Mother was an up and coming operatic soprano and was hoping to get work in Stockholm only we didn’t get to Sweden as our ship was torpedoed and was taking on water badly. The best it could do was to hug the coast until it reached Danzig harbour in Poland. Our new destination was Vienna, but we got stuck in Dresden and managed to survive the dreadful bombing of that city.

American troops soon overran us, and we were interred in a Displaced Persons camp in Würzburg, Bavaria and stayed there until 1949 when we emigrated to Australia, a place I had never heard of except that one could not could not go any further as then one would be coming back.

I was eight years old when we landed in Newcastle harbour and then taken to Greta Migrant Camp.

That was probably the best thing that ever happened to me and I grew up in Australia and prospered.

By early in 1990 the age of digital photography was gathering momentum. It was clear to me that film photography will soon be a thing of the past and my existing photography business in Sydney would have to either adapt to the new technology or fail. To survive meant I had to learn about the incoming threat and the more I learned about it, the less I liked it.

By now I liked living in Sydney even less. The drug culture had all but taken over the city and at home in the evenings I felt that I was almost like a voluntary prisoner in my own home. Doors and windows had to be locked, alarms set before retiring to bed, all the things one would expect if living in a prison cell except for the prison guard yelling when it was time to get up in the morning.

Discussing this with my wife Jill, it took a lot of persuasion that life in a small country town would be more to our liking. The big question was, how do we make a living in such a place?

I already had the answer before the question came up. I would establish a smokehouse, curing and smoking meats such as hams, beef, chickens and fish, using methods as the Latvian people had done for hundreds of years. From boyhood I had quite a bit of experience in the art since we built a small smokehouse in our back yard in Newcastle some forty years ago.

The decision was made, and we started looking for a suitable place on the north coast of New South Wales. Eventually we found one in Valla, near the town of Nambucca Heads.

After a bumpy start the business took off and we both agreed that we had made the right decision. In our new residence in Valla we soon found that we needn’t lock our doors and windows and even leave the car doors unlocked with the keys still in the ignition.

Mocking us, as fate often does, my stepfather died just when we had my cousin Karin and her husband Bernt visiting us from East Germany. During their stay my stepfather died. This was on a Monday thus leaving me sufficient time to drive my visitors to Brisbane from where they were booked to fly home and be back in time for dad’s funeral.

We never made it. On the way we collided with a semi-trailer, killing Karin and severely injuring Jill and myself. Both Jill and I had broken both ankles, as well as suffering severe chest injuries. Bernt got off lightly with a dislocated collar. Jill was placed in intensive care and then for weeks we were confined to bed as we couldn’t put any weight on out legs.

My mother, now in her early nineties, moved out of her Newcastle home and went to live with my sister, in Lakewood, near Port Macquarie. She was not well, and dad’s death and our accident weighed heavily on her but for her age she carried on remarkably well.

Shortly before my mother died, she furtively handed me a small, blue notebook with instructions to keep it hidden so my sister didn’t see it and suggested I look at it only once I was home. I complied with her wishes and once home, I fished it out, curious as to what I was holding.

It turned out to be her diary, started shortly after dad died. To call it her diary is perhaps not quite correct. An indictment is probably a better word. Commencing on a high note after dad’s death, my sister’s devotion to all her needs was highly acclaimed. An angel as mother described her. A daughter could not perform any better.

“She does everything for me. I could not have wish for a more caring and loving daughter.” (Page 8)

Then the diary suddenly started to dive headfirst into a murky cesspool.

Once my mother had agreed and moved into my sister’s house, which our parents had liberally partly financed, my sister’s attitude to our mother changed abruptly and for no apparent reason. No longer the sweet, “don’t worry about a thing, I’ll do everything for you,” to “you eat too much you old hag. Do it yourself, I’m not your personal servant. Why don’t you simply kill yourself? I’ll help you there if you like.”

I could not believe what I was reading. Page after page poured out this venom. I’m a fairly robust person but this vile document reduced me to tears and a deep- seated anger. At first, I thought my mother had succumbed to senility but, then I studied the handwriting which I found steady and graceful and the sentence construction, flowing and flawless. Then I recalled a few incidents in the company of my mother and sister. At first, I dismissed them as being due to stress but in spite of that, a little too much over the top. However, the situation was bound to create a few minor clashes but now I wasn’t so sure. I rang my mother and told her I had read her diary and would speak to my sister about it and see if something could be worked out. To my surprise she shouted back,

“No, please don’t. I beg of you, please don’t say anything.”

“Why not?” I asked surprised.

“Because my life here is pretty bad as it is. If Inara knows I’ve kept a diary and given it to you, my life here will not only be bad, it will be intolerable.”

“I don’t understand, if you want me to do nothing, why did you give me the diary in the first place?”

“Because when I’m gone, I want you to know just what a monster I’ve created.”

I could not believe this was happening. Like a ‘B’ grade American movie. Cinderella suddenly turns into an evil witch and sets about devouring her benefactor.

Being fluent in the Latvian language, I translated the diary from Latvian into English and still have both copies. Since my mother didn’t want me to interfere I decided not to but resolved to watch the situation closely and should anything more develop I was going to disobey my mother’s wishes and vent my anger and disgust with my sister and probably insist that mum come to live with Jill and me in Valla.

Having established that my sister Inara had the final say in the length of our mother’s days on this earth, it is very clear to me what took place but also very difficult to prove. However, one does not ask people to attend a funeral whilst the star of the event is still in the land of the living, nor does one book a funeral director before the person is pronounced dead by medical authorities.

My sister did both. My mother died in the early hours of a Friday morning. That evening before she died, my sister rang her son in Lismore, asking him to drive to her place in Lakewood to give a hand in helping her with the funeral arrangements which were to take place on the following Tuesday. He obliged and was there on Friday.

My wife Jill and I were in Sydney at the time staying in a hotel in Ultimo. On the Friday morning at about 7am, I received a phone call in my hotel. It was my sister telling me that our mother had died in the early hours of Friday morning and her funeral would take place on the following Tuesday.

I was not aware of her phone call to her son the evening before, until just after the funeral. I rang my nephew and he foolishly confirmed all the details. Here I must add that while my nephew does hold a Master’s degree in Science, in other matters, he’s not a full quid. He reasoned that his grandmother was dying anyway, and his mother had thought she was dead already. This deduction from a Master in Science? My only hope is that his future career does not allow him to go further than grouping confetti papers into their specific colours and perhaps, later, counting them. This may sound like I am just a tad vindictive. Too right I am and not just a tad.

I countered that as it was about 6pm on the Thursday when my sister rang him, all funeral parlours had ceased trading for the day and they are not known for opening for business at 6am in order for my sister to tell me at 7am, the same morning, that the funeral was to take place on Tuesday. Stranger still is that it did not occur to him to ask when or at what time did his grandmother die. Before anything else, these would have been my first question.

Naturally, even to think such a thing of one’s family is in itself unthinkable. True, my mother was dying from cancer at the age of 94 but her time could have stretched for weeks more or even two months but not much longer, according to her doctor. In any case, not very long. So why accelerate the time left? There had to be a motive and after mulling this over for some time, I came up with a few possibilities.

On a number of occasions my mother had confided in me that she was not happy with her grandson’s attitude towards her. He had become standoffish to the point of being rude towards her. She was thinking of taking him out of her will. Something Raimond did not think she could do legally as he was ‘family’ and had rights, as he one time explained to me.

I did my best to talk Mother out of it as this would reflect on me and make future relations with my sister and nephew intolerable.

My mother knew her daughter was bleeding her financially. She was charging our mother $250 a week for food and rent plus keeping her old age pension cheques for her own use. Seeing that Mother had built on an annex to her daughter’s house as her quarters at her expense, I found this to be greed personified. More was to come later as my sister held ‘Power of Attorney’ over Mother’s affairs and thus had full access to her bank accounts. My mother was confined to a wheelchair and she could not drive herself to a bank and enter it by herself, this was left to my sister.

It is possible that my mother had received her bank statements by post and had taken her daughter to account to explain any questionable withdrawals. An early death would keep these questions unanswered.

A few weeks earlier, Mother had indicated that she would like to move in with Jill and me as we were by now quite mobile after our car accident and would not dream of making my mother pay rent. This of course also meant giving me power of attorney and cancelling my sister’s as well as giving her an opportunity to take my nephew out of her will.

These are just a few but very good motives to administer an earlier exit from life, as nature wasn’t doing it quickly enough.

Maybe she wasn’t the greatest mother in the world, but she was still my mother, fleeing from Communist aggression in Latvia, at the end of 1944, with two small children in tow, becoming a refugee and overcoming the terror of leaving everything she once had behind. Life could not have been easy for her. Scratching out sustenance from a war exhausted Germany and after many years of deprivation finally travelling halfway across the globe to Australia, is something for which I am eternally thankful, especially when I think of the thousands who didn’t make it and became slaves to an unworkable and harsh system.

We were not the richest kids on the block, but we were well fed and alive and her end reward for this was to have her own child turn on her, abuse her, rob her and finally extinguish her life for the lust of a few quick dollars.

Armed with my mother’s diary, I went to the police. Where I was enraged, seeking justice for my mother, they were mildly amused.

“That diary is not much good,” one of them said, “It’s written in a foreign language.”

“I’ve got an English translation right here,” I replied.

“Who translated it?”

“I did”.

“That’s not much chop. It’s got to be an official translation by a government accredited translator.”

“I can have that done. There is a Latvian Legation now in Australia.”

“Still it won’t do you much good. Should it ever come to court, the defending barrister will dismiss it as the ravings of a senile old woman.”

“Well just look at the handwriting. Would you say that that is the work of a senile old woman? I know you don’t savvy Latvian but if you did you’d know that the flow and the sentence construction is more lucid than that which Hemingway ever wrote.”

“That may be so but let me tell you, we see cases like these many times and they are the most difficult to hold up in court.”

“All right then, but what about asking people to the funeral while my mother was still alive?”

“You have to prove that first. All you have is a telephone conversation and that will be dismissed as hearsay. In any case, your nephew will have been briefed to offer a different version. Look, I believe what you’re saying Mr Andrews, but I have Buckley’s chance of convincing our prosecutor to take this case on. He’s more worried about his budget. I’m sorry but we know from experience the thing won’t get up. We see these type of cases come up regularly.”

“So, you’re telling me people can get away with murder and there’s nothing you can do?”

“That’s about it Mr Andrews. I’m sorry but on so little direct evidence, our prosecutor will say he’s not committing any funding to what he thinks is a losing case.”

“So, my sister gets away with murder as well as theft?”

“It looks that way but depending on what evidence you have of theft and how much money you can afford to spend, I suggest you look for a lawyer and put together a civil case. Then, if your sister is convicted by a civil court, she will be turned over to us. Then we’ll have something to work with.”

I fully understood what the policeman was saying to me. I didn’t like it but I could see his point.

I have known Kim Abernathy ever since we moved from Sydney to Valla, on the north coast of New South Wales. He was a little older than me, a thin man, greying, with an ever so slight a stoop which robbed him of at least an inch of his true height. We had met several times socially and it was no secret that he was a solicitor.

When my car accident case came up for hearing, I retained Kim as my solicitor and I was very happy with the results obtained and happier still when he presented me with a very reasonable bill for his services.

On receiving a copy of my mother’s will, I thought it best to have a solicitor look after my interests and offered up myself to become his client once more.

When I first entered his office in Nambucca Heads, I was amazed at what confronted me. The room itself was quite large but made smaller by heaps of manila folders, tied with pink ribbons, leaning against the walls to almost waist level height from the floor. There was no window in the office that I could see so the illumination` was all electric. The whole area reeked of tobacco smell. Kim was a smoker of some quantity, not that this worried me, so was I.

As Kim examined the will, his finger stopped under one line.

“Who’s this Raimond Wegners? What’s he doing in your mother’s will?”

“That’s my nephew.”

“I thought something like that. He’s got no business being there. A trinket or some other small treasure bequeathed to him, I wouldn’t worry about, but an equal share is something else and seeing you don’t have a son that gives you only a 33% share which is not fair. I can have him legally removed from the will before it hits probate. No trouble at all, just give me the go ahead.”

“Actually Kim, I’d prefer to leave it as it is. I know what you’re saying but for the sake of peace, I’m quite happy to leave it stand as is.”

“That’s quite a sum of money you are investing in peace.”

“I’m aware of that but it’s only money and I don’t really need all that much.”

“OK but it’s your money. For the record, I just want it known that I’ve advised you of your options.”

“You have and I’m thankful for your candour.”

“In that case there’s not much more we can do until other events take place.”

After my mother’s funeral, I again found myself in Kim’s office. I briefed him on my suspicions and laid out all the evidence I had before him. I expected an outraged expression from Kim but to my surprise, received a stoic reply.

“Well, the whole thing now has to go to probate and you each will get your share, so that’s that then.”

“Kim! Haven’t you been listening? My sister murdered my mother. Surely there’s something that can be done about that?”

“You’ve already done it. You’ve reported the matter to the cops and they gave you their answer. I can’t do more.”

“I don’t believe this,” I exploded, “a woman has been murdered and the perpetrator walks off with the money. Scot free!”

“Yep! That about sums it up.”

“This is unbelievable!”

“Believe it,” Kim suggested, “look Andy, I know how this looks to you. You are upset your mother had to suffer this ordeal. That’s understandable. Unfortunately, the pillow has killed more people than a small war but that’s how it is. In most cases, the victim has been cremated before any hue and cry was raised. I take it your mother was cremated?”

“Yes she was.”

“There you are then. You can’t perform an autopsy from ashes. OK, let’s say the cops dispatch a couple of detectives to interview your sister. She will lie her head off. Then they interview your nephew. Do you really think he will say ‘sure mum called me and said she was going to kill grandma?’ Of course not. More than likely he will say he doesn’t remember any phone call.

“Now let’s say the cops charge your sister and bring her to trial. Are there any witnesses who will testify that they saw her being abusive towards your mother?”

“No, probably not, but what about the exorbitant rent she was charging mum?”

“Sure, but do you have any receipts to show to back this up?”

“No, my sister would not have given her any receipts. She’s not that stupid but my mother told me.”

“So now we have only hearsay evidence which is not admissible. Did she write down any amounts in her diary?”

“No she didn’t.”

“It really wouldn’t make much difference if she did. And now the diary itself. When she wrote that, she was what, in her nineties?”

“Ninety-three to ninety-four.”

“OK, so when the cops present the diary to the court, your sister’s barrister will immediately leap to his feet and label it as the ranting of an old senile woman and offer to produce a dozen expert witnesses who will testify that women in that age bracket are prone to imagine all sorts of unbelievable things.”

“She wasn’t senile, I know that.”

“I believe you but how are you going to prove it? She no longer is available to be examined by experts.”

“What about the money she cheated my mother out of? She sold my mother’s house in Newcastle for what she claims was $190,000. Can you believe that? You can’t even buy a brick dunny for much under that.”

“Didn’t you ask to see the bill of sale or any other paperwork? You had every right to.”

“Of course I did but I was still in hospital then, with two broken ankles. I couldn’t even get into a wheelchair for weeks. Anyway, I asked several times, but she claimed she’d left it at home. Then my mother gave me a hard time for even daring to question my sister. At that time, she thought Inara was still an angel on a mission of mercy.”

“I see but the bottom line still is that you have no hard evidence.”

“I suppose I could get it, there must be records kept somewhere.”

“There are but as things are now, you haven’t got anything on paper?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“So what does the police prosecutor produce in court?”

“I see what you mean. She’s going to get away with it, isn’t she?”

“Maybe not. The police advised you correctly, there is the civil court but to do anything there we have to get hard evidence.”

Just when I thought, ‘all is lost,’ I brightened up.

“Good, then let’s get on with it.”

“Not so fast. Have you any idea of the costs involved?”

“Not to the penny but I believe they can be high.”

“You got it. A hundred thousand to two hundred thousand at least.”

“Sure, but if we win we’ll get it back and then some.”

“Yeah but we’ve got to win first.”

“I’m aware of that but I simply cannot let her get away with it by doing nothing.”

“Fair enough but let me ask you something. Why do you really want to go ahead with this? Do you feel you’re entitled to some compensation?”

“You mean like money?”

“Well, yes, for openers?”

“Kim, I don’t give a rat’s arse about the money.”

“So what do you want?”

“I don’t want cash from my sister, that would be like taking blood money. I want her convicted, shamed and behind bars. OK you’re about to say, I’m after revenge and you’d be right. I want revenge. For what she did to my mother is much the same as if she did it to me. If capital punishment was still in vogue in Australia, I’d volunteer to pull the lever. As a matter of fact, I’d be happy and prepared to pay, just to pull the lever.”

“Whoa, you are upset and that could be a problem.”

“I don’t understand, what’s the problem?”

“Whilst one is upset, one does not always think straight about the methods, always the outcomes and that is the tricky spot. The outcomes could become nastier than the problems.”


“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you, I’d be out there doing things for you and making a buck for me.”

We both sat silent for a short time and then Kim lit another cigarette. To show him there were no hard feelings, so did I.

“You said earlier,” Kim restarted the conversation, “your sister was bleeding your mother financially. Can you cast a little more light on that?”

“Sure. I told you earlier she was charging my mother rent and keeping her pension money to boot. Well my mother paid for the extensions built on my sister’s house.”

“What sort of extensions?”

“A bed sitting room for herself.”

“I see, thus adding considerable value to her house.”

“Exactly. Then she bought a new car.”

“Funny how a new car appears every time people smell money.”

“She paid cash for it.”

“Might have been from her own savings.”

“Hardly, my sister and her husband were both pensioners and before they moved into the house at Lakewood, a couple of years ago, mum and dad had to fork out $8,000 to make up the shortfall so I can’t see how one can save up enough money from the pension to spring for a new X-Trail.”

“Maybe they were working but forgot to tell the government. You know, part time work on the black.”

“No way, her husband Harry wouldn’t work in an iron lung. Anyway, when I later questioned her about it she said mum helped her with the finances, like the lot and that it’s really mum’s car except that it’s registered in my sister’s name as mum doesn’t have a driver’s licence.”

“This gets better and better. A four-wheel drive X-Trail, just what every 94-year-old lady needs to parade about on Sunday mornings. Anything else?”

“Her son appeared at the funeral in a brand-new Volkswagen Golf when I know he was battling with his mortgage, but he went to great pains to keep me from finding out about it and now there is the will itself.”

“What do you mean? What’s wrong with the will?”

I reached into my briefcase and pulled out my copy of my mother’s will.

“My mother had two accounts. One with a bank and one with a building society. Look at the sum total of both accounts and now look at the totals we received from the executor. There’s more than a $140,000 discrepancy in less than a year. Where has the money gone? I can account for only $35,000 which was the cost of extensions to my sister’s house.”

“That is interesting,” Kim mused, “looks like ‘happy days’ are here again for someone.”

“You bet, and I’m quite peed off. I wasn’t even invited.”

“You just might have something here. First thing, we must get all copies of bank and building society statements starting from the date on the will.”

“That’s not going to be easy. My sister would have those, but I don’t think she’ll part with them. She’s probably burnt them all already.”

“We don’t need her cooperation. The bank and building society will still have them on file.”

“They probably do but I don’t think they’ll hand them over to me, just like that.”

“You are quite right, to you, just like that? No, but they will hand them over to me, a solicitor involved in a will dispute. They have to, that’s the law. I’ll get onto that right away. In the meantime, there is not much else we can do until the statements get here. As soon as I have them on my desk, I will call you.”

Kim was as good as his word. In less than two weeks I got a phone call from him.

“Just arrived this morning are the bank statements we requested. You’d better get yourself over here and have a look at them. They’ll probably tell you more than they can tell me.”

“Sure thing, when is it convenient for me to come?”

“This afternoon at 3pm or the same time tomorrow.”

“I’ll see you at three this afternoon.”

I lit a cigarette as I settled down on the opposite side of Kim’s desk. Kim lit a cigarette and handed me a wad of statements, already sorted out in page number and date order,

“Here, use this,” Kim proffered me a pencil, “flag any entry you see worth taking a closer look at.”

It was a busy pencil. Cash withdrawals everywhere. $1,000, $500, $3,000, $2,000 all over the place.

“It looks like you’ve hit the jackpot,” Kim remarked, “and I’m willing to make a small wager the withdrawal slips have your sister’s power of attorney signature on all of them. Rather convenient too, don’t you think that both accounts have been transferred from Newcastle to Port Macquarie, almost next to Lakewood.”

“And you thought I was letting my imagination run away with me.”

“Not at all, I asked for evidence and now we’ve got it.”

“OK, so what’s the next step?”

“The next step is, I want you to take a bit of time out and think about it.”

“About what?” I cried out almost in disbelief.

“About whether you want to continue with this.”

“What? Why the hell do you think I’m sitting here?”

“Now settle down and hear me out. What you have here is a pretty strong case but not a guaranteed one. Right now, you’re still upset and emotional. You are angry and feel let down and cheated and you want to strike back. This is natural but can be dangerous as your thinking is clouded. I don’t want you to commit yourself to a case whilst in this state. Make no bones about it, it will be pretty hard going and time consuming and there always is that chance that you’ll lose. Don’t forget that your sister will be fighting back to avoid spending her autumn years in prison. From what you’ve told me of her I rather suspect that not only will she be fighting back, she’ll have all her claws out.

“Then there’s the fact that it will be a long drawn out battle and should her barrister feel he is losing ground, he’ll pull out every dirty trick to drag the proceedings out, in the hope that you’ll look at your wallet and say you can’t afford any more.”

“The same thing can apply to my sister.”

“Sure it does but her barrister will have her house valued long before he steps into court.”

“Pretty dirty business then.”

“Believe you me Andy, it is. That’s why I want you to take time out to relax and evaluate the worth.”

“How much time?”

“A few months at least.”

“A few months! By that time the statute of limitations may apply.”

“Not in this case. This is a civil murder case and a murder case has no expiry date.”

I hadn’t expected this. However, I had to give in that what Kim had said, made sense, especially as he had a bit to lose himself. I thought about it and came up with a possible solution.

“All right,” I said, “I have a suggestion.”

“Speak.” was all that Kim replied.

“Jill and I are planning an excursion. We or rather I am, going back to Latvia, where I was born. The last time I was there was in 1944 so it’s almost like I was never there. From there we plan a cruise on the Baltic and should be back of time to mull over my intentions and if I feel then about the whole thing as I do now, are you prepared to take on the case on my behalf?

“What an excellent idea. A change like that will do you the world of good, there’s nothing like a bit of sea air to clear the cobwebs out of the brain.”

“OK, we’ll do it that way then.”

“Fine, I’m happy to leave it at that and if you decide to proceed, I will do my utmost to get you a good result but remember, when you get back, you chase me. I won’t chase you.”

We both shook hands, smoked another cigarette and I left the office much happier now that I could see wood for the trees.

I never saw Kim Abernathy alive again. 


Both Jill and I felt we needed a break. I had three half-brothers in Latvia I had never laid eyes on. I had corresponded with one of them, but he suddenly died from a heart attack whilst working on my father’s rural holdings, some 140 kilometres north-east of Riga. During the Soviet occupation the farm had been seized by the Russians but following the Russian withdrawal, it was handed back to the rightful owners. Veckepites as the area was known, had been the family home since 1723, something I had never known before.

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