Two Fathers

by Alexander Baron

Episode Number: 50
Director: Bob Hird



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Major Harkness   Keith Barron
Sergeant Jago   Kenneth Colley
Hellmut Regler   George Pravda
Corporal Cobb   Gareth Hunt
Sergeant Oldcastle   William Marlowe
Erika   Catherine Schell
Frau Regler   Izabella Telezynska
Emmy Regler   Lori Portugal
Berta   Poppy Lane
An Army Chaplain   Bill Simons



The German Countryside   A Jeep transports Edwin to his arranged meeting with representatives of the British Army of occupation.

Earlier, a funeral service was held for a deceased soldier, Philip Ashton.

Army Headquarters   Major Harkness explains to Edwin that Philip was working with some Germans when an explosion occurred in a building they were clearing out as a shelter for local civilians.

Edwin tells the major that he received unofficial notification from Sergeant Jago.

Then, Edwin continues, he demanded that the Families' Association secure for him a permit to come to occupied Germany to gather more information on his son's death.

When Edwin complains that he was unable to arrive in time for the funeral—stuck on a train in the fog—Major Harkness assures him that they delayed the graveside service as long as they could.

Edwin asks to see Philip's grave, so Major Harkness grants him permission, ordering Sergeant Jago to send for a car and later to provide their guest with something to eat.

On their way outside, the major informs Edwin that he was commanding officer of the battalion in which Philip served as interpreter.

There are hungry children begging on the street, and Edwin feels sad and helpless.

As the car pulls up, the major asks its driver to get Mr. Ashton a photo of the grave.

Edwin snaps, "They take your son away, and they give you a photograph back."

The German Countryside   Walking among the wooden-cross grave markers, Edwin locates the one which indicates his son's final resting place.

The marker reads: "4129818—SGT P ASHTON—KINGS OWN ROYAL REGT—DIED 3 NOV 1945."

Weeping quietly to himself, he wonders where the flowers came from that adorn Philip's grave site.

A German Beer House   While playfully teasing Berta, the robust attendant, Sergeant Jago orders her to bring bread and beer for Edwin.

In comes Sergeant Oldcastle, who seats himself at their table and pays his respects to Edwin on the loss of his son, whom he calls a "very nice lad."

Two German children enter, begging for cigarettes, and Sergeant Jago gives them each a thick slice of bread to share with their families.

Sergeant Jago explains to Edwin that cigarettes are the only money there is these days.

Sergeant Oldcastle grumbles that they are "bloody Hun kids," who grow up to go to war every twenty years, but Sergeant Jago urges him to be more compassionate toward the defeated German people.

Unconvinced, Sergeant Oldcastle snaps, "Look what poor Phil Ashton got for it," and Sergeant Jago tells Edwin that Philip was helping some Germans when he was killed.

He was off duty, he adds, putting a house straight for homeless children.

Sergeant Oldcastle contends that Philip was the victim of a booby-trap explosive, laid by "werewolves"—underground Nazis—but Sergeant Jago discounts that notion, arguing that it probably was planted by the SS during the war.

"You owe it to your son, Mr. Ashton," says Sergeant Oldcastle. "You find out who killed him…and never forget."

Army Headquarters   Edwin tells Major Harkness that the men are saying it was a booby trap that took the life of Philip, but the major cautions against spreading such rumours.

Major Harkness says Sergeant Ashton was working on a shelter for homeless children when the explosion occurred, but survivors of the blast—including a German woman with whom he was working—are unwilling to testify.

While Major Harkness is on the telephone, he watches Edwin, who is looking through his son's few personal effects.

A moment later, the major tries to convince Edwin to leave Germany, but Edwin is determined to talk with anyone in the battalion who knew Philip.

He asks the major to let him stay for a couple more days, to search for some meaning for his son's inexplicable death.

His youngest son, he explains, left one day and never came back, and his departure was as final as if he never had been born.

"Please, let me look for a few memories, something to take back," he pleads. "Philip was going to do everything I never did."

This emotional appeal touches Major Harkness, and he consents to send for Corporal Cobb, an enlisted man who turned up at Philip's funeral.

The major excuses himself, leaving Edwin in the hands of Sergeant Jago.

Edwin asks him where the woman who was working with Philip now lives, and Sergeant Jago reluctantly divulges the information, indicating that her name is Frau Regler.

A Street in Town   Wandering through a bombed-out section, Edwin notices the homeless humanity—filthy children and desperate adults alike—as he searches for Frau Regler.

A young lady begs him for cigarettes, and he willingly complies, feeling the same compassion that must have guided Philip in his final days of life.

Edwin locates the Regler abode, so he makes his way through the rubble to a dark cellar, and he knocks on the door that serves as the entry way to the family's makeshift habitation.

The Regler Cellar   Frau Regler lies in bed, injured and exhausted, and at first she is unwilling to converse with the British stranger.

That all changes when Edwin identifies himself as Philip Ashton's father, a revelation that causes Frau Regler to smile and become most gracious and accommodating.

She explains that it was Philip's idea to build a shelter for homeless orphans, and he was inside the building, along with many children, when the explosion occurred.

Frau Regler's husband, Hellmut, enters and angrily tells the Englishman to vacate the premises, unless he is there to take his wife to a hospital.

Edwin resents the man's hateful attitude, so he begins to leave until Herr Regler—after learning the visitor's identity—calls him back, explaining that his wife is hurt.

"Your wife is hurt, Herr Regler," declares Edwin. "My son is dead. And every time I look at a German, I wonder who's to blame."

As Edwin departs the Regler confines, he passes by a group of teenage Germans, who eye him with interest as they smoke their cigarettes.

Army Headquarters   Sergeant Jago is on the telephone, trying to arrange for Edwin to ring his family in England, but the Army operator informs him that the call cannot be placed until that night at nine o'clock.

Edwin asks the sergeant to secure enough cigarettes to buy a parcel of food for some indigent young people, explaining that his charitable gift will be for "Philip, in a way."

Meanwhile, Herr Regler is petitioning Major Harkness for aid in having his injured wife transferred to a hospital.

This the major flatly refuses to do, contending that such explosions typically were the handiwork of the SS—that is to say, booby traps.

As the German is leaving, Edwin exchanges glances with him, but of course they dare say nothing to one another in those circumstances.

Major Harkness informs Edwin that Corporal Cobb has been located and that the battalion is sending him to headquarters.

As it turns out, the corporal is not very forthcoming with information, stating only that Philip was a quiet fellow.

When Edwin reads to him a note in Philip's diary, "Erika—nylons, 9-1/2," Corporal Cobb confirms that Philip did have a German girlfriend.

Edwin wonders aloud whether this Erika was the same girl he had seen at the cemetery.

Prodded by Edwin, the corporal finally reveals where Erika might be found—at a beer house where she sings.

A German Beer House   Sergeant Jago good-naturedly coerces some children into washing their hands and ears.

After Edwin comes in, and they chat for a bit, the sergeant explains to him that he lost his wife and three kids in the Blitz—all killed instantly in a single blast.

He gives Edwin a sizable package of cigarettes that he obtained from the NAAFI, and he quips, "You could get Crown Kaiser for that lot."

Edwin asks him how to find Erika, so the sergeant questions Berta, who replies that Erika just comes and goes.

Sergeant Jago assures Edwin that Erika will almost certainly be there at seven o'clock.

The Regler Cellar   Frau Regler is surprised to see Edwin again, after witnessing his angry departure the last time he came.

Edwin gives her the cigarettes, explaining that her husband can use them to buy some food.

When she says he is kind, Edwin responds, "No, selfish," and he asks her to tell him about Philip.

Frau Regler informs Edwin that she and her husband met Philip when he was ordered to serve them with an eviction notice.

She says Philip hated that part of his job, and the deplorable living conditions of the German people caused him a great deal of depression.

Soon, Edwin can see that his visit is tiring Frau Regler, so he begins to leave.

She stops him momentarily, long enough to declare that Hellmut is not a Nazi, adding that her husband never has been the same after their son, Ernst, was killed two weeks before the end of the war.

Frau Regler begs Edwin to try to understand her husband's feelings, stating that she hopes the two men can become friends.

Edwin extinguishes the oil lamp for her, and they say "Auf Wiedersehen" to each other.

In the adjoining room is Hellmut, who is grateful for the cigarettes, which he will use to secure food and medication.

Hellmut complains about the poor treatment that German survivors must endure at the hands of the British occupational forces.

Their home was requisitioned by the military government, he charges, and they were sent into the streets with only their clothes and bedding—all for the convenience of an English girl typist.

Offended by such talk, Edwin angrily responds, "It was the Germans who gambled, and they lost."

When Edwin snarls that he lost two sons in the war, Hellmut bitterly declares that all four of his sons met their deaths.

He adds that the British will do nothing to assist his injured wife.

Hellmut's daughter comes inside, and even his introduction of her is vindictive in tone: "All that the conquerors have left us—my daughter, Emmy."

A German Beer House   Erika is at work, huskily singing "September Song" to the British soldiers.

Edwin recognises her from the cemetery, and Sergeant Jago confirms that she was Philip's girlfriend.

When Sergeant Oldcastle comes in, he happens to mention the sergeant of a bomb-disposal squad, and this casual remark captures Edwin's attention.

Sergeant Oldcastle hastily departs, so Edwin pressures Sergeant Jago for more information, something he is loath to supply.

Calling Erika over and making introductions, the sergeant leaves the two of them to talk.

Edwin thanks her for placing flowers at Philip's gravesite.

They walk to a back hallway, where it is a bit quieter, and Edwin learns that Erika knew Philip for four months.

She explains that Philip would give her some money, and this enabled her to earn an honest living rather than descending into prostitution.

"He was a kind boy," says Edwin, to which Erika responds, "Kind? Like to animals? No, Mr. Ashton, Philip did love me. I hoped he would marry me."

Then she leaves for her next set of songs, and Edwin stands there alone, still haunted by unanswered questions about his son's mysterious death.

Army Headquarters   Edwin is on the telephone, talking with John Porter, and he implores John to get in touch with David.

Their conversation ended, Edwin goes into Major Harkness's office and asks what new information is in the latest Army report of the explosion.

At first, the major is reluctant to divulge any details, but finally he points to a bomb fragment that lies on his desk.

It was an RAF bomb, which lay dormant until one of the children happened to disturb it.

Major Harkness tells Edwin, "Please, keep it under your hat. I'm going to let the booby trap story stand. It's better for the civilians."

A Street in Town   Edwin is walking through a devastated section at night when suddenly he is struck on the head.

While he lies there, dazed and on the verge of blacking out, some young people search through his pockets.

A noise is heard from afar, so one of the attackers shouts, "Schnell! Schnell!" and they all flee from the scene, leaving their victim unconscious.

A German Beer House   Edwin staggers inside, and Sergeants Oldcastle and Jago rush to his aid.

Having a look, Sergeant Jago says it is "a lovely bump," but otherwise Edwin seems not to be too seriously injured.

Edwin declares that the assailants stole his wallet and a wristwatch that belonged to Philip.

When he asks if Erika is here, both soldiers contend that it would be better for him if he went to bed and waited until tomorrow to see her.

Sergeant Jago leaves to make out a crime report, and Edwin tells Sergeant Oldcastle that he needs to wash up a bit from his ordeal.

Instead, he knocks on the door to a back room—hoping to find Erika—and he is surprised to see not only her but also Corporal Cobb, half dressed and looking quite guilty at being caught in this compromising position.

Army Headquarters   Outside the building, Hellmut Regler again begs Major Harkness to assist his injured wife, and again the major instructs him to go see the Bürgermeister.

This time, however, Herr Regler says something that stops Major Harkness in his tracks: "You said you were not responsible for the explosion…but it was a British bomb."

The major calls that a stupid rumour, and he refuses to accept responsibility for the welfare of Frau Regler, calling her "a war casualty."

When Hellmut persists, the major cautions him to watch his step or he personally will see to it that Regler loses his job at the Red Cross.

Inside the building, Corporal Cobb enters Edwin's billet, explaining that he found something that Edwin should have.

He shows Edwin a photograph of him and Philip, taken while they were on a 48-hour leave in Belgium.

Corporal Cobb apologises for his behaviour with Erika, denying that she is a whore and contending that she just wants to get out of the nightmarish world of post-war Germany.

The corporal explains that Philip was in a troubled mental condition, interrogating Germans and yet sympathising with them and even feeling guilty about the way German captives were being treated.

During one spirited discussion with him, he says, Philip argued that the Germans were driven to war because of how the victors treated them following the last war.

"You would have thought we was personally responsible, to hear him go on," says the corporal.

Edwin ruefully gazes at the photograph and laments, "It wasn't his lot that did that, Cobb. It was mine."

Later, Edwin informs Major Harkness that he would like to go home as soon as possible, and the major responds that can be arranged—cryptically adding, "…when you've done something for us."

A hearing commences in the major's office, as Hellmut Regler and his daughter, Emmy, are ushered in and seated near the desk.

The major alleges that Philip's watch was sold on the black market by 13-year-old Emmy Regler.

At the time of its sale, the girl had this stolen object in her possession, so the charge against her will be "robbery with violence."

In his daughter's defence, Herr Regler claims that the girl says she found the watch, but he must acknowledge that Emmy was not at home last night.

Then he delivers an impassioned plea, explaining that the unfortunate girl has known nothing but violence and evil since she was six years old.

He says they lived in Cologne, where they were bombed out, and then he was sent to the Krupp Works in Essen—again bombed out—and Emmy was evacuated to a farm for eight months with no schooling.

Major Harkness, while assuring the apprehensive father that he does not persecute children, nevertheless wishes to hear no further social excuses for his daughter's actions.

Before turning to question the girl herself, the major asks Edwin if he can identify her as one of his assailants.

Tacitly, Edwin recognises her shabby sandals with green stockings as those belonging to one of the young people who accosted him last night.

When the major demands that she say, "Schnell! Schnell!" her voice is all too familiar to Edwin, and yet he utters nothing to implicate her.

Major Harkness impresses upon Edwin the gravity of this unlawful deed, but Edwin insists that nothing would cause him to suspect this girl as being one of the perpetrators.

The major is peeved at Edwin's refusal to press charges, but Sergeant Jago seems pleased and relieved at the outcome.

"These are ruffians. They're a plague," declares the major, but Edwin responds, "I'm wondering what our kids would be like after six years of broken homes and education."

There is nothing for Major Harkness to do but release the girl, reporting only that she was in possession of stolen property, a much less serious offence.

After the Reglers are led away, Major Harkness offers Edwin a drink, saying, "You know, I always thought your son was too soft-hearted. Now I know where he got it from."

The Regler Cellar   Edwin is delighted to inform Hellmut that his wife will be declared "in need of care," and the German responds with a smile, "Ironic. Now she'll be taken care of."

Then Edwin tells Herr Regler that he has seen what he stayed to see—what Philip saw.

"Still Philip?" asks Hellmut, and Edwin replies, "There will always be Philip…and Ernst."

As Edwin looks at photos of the Reglers' four dead sons, Hellmut insists that Emmy come and say thank you.

She curtsies perfunctorily to the Englishman, flashing an indifferent smile, and then runs outside with her angry father in pursuit and calling after her.

A Street in Town   Hellmut gives up chasing Emmy and turns to his guest.

He assures Edwin that he is not a Nazi, but he confesses that there were times when those early victories made him proud of the Fatherland's might.

"I didn't want the war. I minded my own business," he declares, and Edwin responds, "So did I. This is the price."

They walk together amidst the rubble of warfare, at one point allowing an injured boy to pass by on his crutches.

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