World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                  Arthur Barraclough 

The 8th May 1945. V E Day.

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Arthur Barraclough
Location of story: From Austria to Saarbrucken

 

The 8th May 1945. V E Day.

By
Arthur Barraclough

From Austria to Saarbrucken

And now, 60 years have passed by. Yet, although it is good that it will be remembered - (thanks to the wonderful work of Emley Fundraisers) - no doubt for many younger people, it will mean very little. For children going to school, as with the 3rd September 1939, it will be just another date in history books.
May I tell you what it means to me? As a Prisoner of War, captured in Sicily 1943, and having been marched from the eastern side of Austria to almost the western side, a 14 day walk, with so little food that we came to know the real meaning of the word hunger. Having been put into a camp which no words of mine can describe; myself and a friend decided "We are not staying here!"
I think it was 2 days later having noticed the proximity of the railway station, and waiting until it was dark, we got through the wire. This was my third attempt at escaping. Having, by now acquired a reasonable knowledge of their language, I bought 2 train tickets and made our departure. My heart came into my mouth when another passenger asked my friend (who could speak no German) where were we. Fortunately I was able to answer. Other rather frightening events followed, which I feel prohibited from recounting here. But what I must relate, was when a German soldier accosted us - asking who we were etc etc. He then told me that he had been wounded an the Russian front - had been in hospital and subsequently discharged as unfit for further military service. Continuing - he said he was wanting to make his way home to Saarbrucken. "But", he went on "the Americans are in Saarbrucken. I will help to get you to the Americans if you will then help me".
That night we slept in the hay on a farm. He paid the farmer's wife for a little breakfast and then we started out walking. Round about mid-day we walked around a corner of the road and were met by an American Armoured Fighting Vehicle (something like a small tank). As I was in English uniform, my Australian friend in his uniform and the German in his uniform, the American, with his head out of the cockpit of the vehicle, was nonplussed. "Friend or foe?" he was wondering. I told him of our adventures, and then he said "Do you know what day it is?" After pandering for a moment or two, I said "I think it's Wednesday". "Do you know anything else?" he asked. "No - should I?" "It's V E Day," he said with a smile. Freedom at last.
There is a lot, lot more I remember. Including "acquiring" a German army car that we motored up to Paris in. But what I also remember is the food we were given. V E Day 8th May 1945.

"What doth he know of freedom, who freedom only knows?"
Arthur Barraclough


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