World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

George Staniforth

Prisoner of War Diaries

 

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross, of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team, on behalf of Mr. D.J. Wilson, who, after recovering the diaries following their disposal, has assumed responsibility for them.

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George Staniforth
Prisoner of War Diaries
Preface
By Douglas J Wilson

George Staniforth died in 1976. Mrs. Staniforth moved house soon after, but before she moved, she dumped some of George’s by the side of a skip. The skip was in Mather Road Playing Field Yard, where I worked. I recovered the diaries and a workmate found a cigar box which contained George’s medals. This was in 1976.

George had worked at Davy United steelworks where he was the Secretary Of Works of the Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society. I spoke to George many times; he lived just across the road from our cabin. He never spoke about his time in the war however. I have had these diaries for 30 years (May 2005).

Douglas Wilson.

The Diaries:
29 June 1942:

On this morning, I was taken prisoner for the second time by the Jerry. The first time was on the 12th of June, 42, but I escaped on the 15th of June.

At 05.45 on the 29th, a very heavy mist hung over the ground and before we knew where we were, 9 of us were 20 yards from the Jerry A.T. guns. My bren carrier caught on in the side and for ten minutes after, I didn’t know if I was in Heaven or hell. When I looked up, I was looking down the barrel of a Jerry Breeder gun. We were placed in some steel railway trucks for the day and at 17.30, we were moved onto lorries. Up to this point, we had gone 24 hours without food or water. On the back of the truck we were on was a box of 24 tins of our own bully (corned beef) and 17 packets of biscuits, which were to be shared among 20 of us. Of course, Jerry didn’t know we were eating them.

We travelled until 15.00 hours of the 30th June; that night we received one tin of bully, one pint of water and one packet of biscuits.

On the morning of 2nd of July, 42, we were again on lorries, leaving the prison at Tobruk. We travelled from 07.15 until 12.00 hrs when we had a rest and a drink of water. By the time the sun started to sink, it was about 19.00 hours, four of us jumped over the side (the lorries were travelling at 30 – 35 m.p.h.). As we hit the ground, we rolled down the banking by about 20 feet. We were on our feet before we reached the bottom of the banking and we were away as fast as our legs could go. Before we had gone ten yards, the bullets were flying all around us. One lad in front of me just dropped. We had just six yards to go before we entered the thick scrub, when one of the other lads fell. When we were among the scrub, we looked back and the Jerry’s went towards the two that lay still. They turned them over. One looked dead and the other must have gotten it in the leg. The two Jerrys came towards the scrub where we were. It didn’t take very long for us to make up our minds, we were off. We didn’t stop until we saw the sun rise over the hills in front of us. We crept under some scrub and fell asleep.

The sun was well up when we awoke, so we started on our way again. As night fell, we came upon some Italians, so we started to run again, and that was the last I saw of my companion. I walked all night with a few short rests. Just before sun up, I saw some troops about 600 yards to my left, so I had to carry on. It was well into the morning before I stopped again. It must have been about 5 o’clock when I fell asleep; it was dark when I opened my eyes again. I didn’t know what time it was, but it was the start of a very long night. I think it must have been about 4 a.m. when the first bit of light showed through. At that time, I came to a very deep dug out. It was too dark to go in, so I waited. As I lay there looking over the side, I could see some boxes. It didn’t take long to dins out they contained stores; there were two tins of bully (Italian) and biscuits, plenty of water and Italian clothes. I stayed there all day. That night I came across a three-ton lorry. Looking around, I couldn’t see any signs of life, so I went towards the side of the lorry. Looking into it, I could see someone asleep. The first thing I got hold of was a double-ended spanner. I went to the back and dropped the tail really loudly. When the man jumped up, I could see that he was an Italian soldier. He made a grab for his rifle as I threw the spanner at him. He fell to the floor and when I was inside, he sat up and looked at me, trying to say something in Italian, which I didn’t understand.

I’ll not say what happened to him, but I did have a good meal of English bully, bacon and cheese, which I found in his box. I had been there for about an hour when I saw four lorries some way off, so I made off in the other direction. I walked all day and I saw more troops than I had seen during the previous four days. I knew I must have been near one of their camps. As the sun went down, I saw about six of them coming my way. They ere no more than 300 yards away. I turned to make a dash when four more stood up n front of me, so I had to wait until they came. One of them hit me with the back of his hand. As I made a grab for his hand, everything went black. The next thing I knew, there was cold water running down my face. I looked around a saw some of my own colleagues. Once again, I was in the prison pen at Tobruk.

The following day, we left for Dirna; it took two days to get there but this time, there was no getting away. In the Dirna pen, we received two Italian biscuits and a pint of water. We arrived in Benghazi prison on the night of 13th of July. The food was very little and the weather was hot. Our daily ration was one tin of Italian bully and a small loaf weighing no more than ten ounces. Once a week, we got boiled rice; cigarettes came in at 10 per week.

On the 28th, I was taken ill and I lay in the tent until the 3rd of August when I was sent to hospital. The food in hospital was little better. I came back to camp on the 23rd of September, feeling good. The weather started to get colder and all I had were a pair of boots, a pair of socks, one pair of K.D. shorts and a shirt. . In the first week of October, we received half a blanket. When it rained, we had no sleep.

On the 11th of November, we had the two minutes’ silence; at 15.30, we were on the boat fro Tripoli where we spent 36 hours in the hole of the ship.

On the 28th, we set sail for Italy and landed at Naples on the 30th. The first thing I saw was the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius which looked very lovely at night with its red glow. We had a hot bath in Naples, the first for months. We travelled in cattle trucks to Bari where I went into hospital two days later. I had my first meal for five days; it consisted of jelly, custard, bread and butter and tea. Two days later, we received 25 Players’ cigarettes, the first English ones since June.

On the night of the 23rd of December, I was transferred to Altermura hospital. At this stage, I weighed only 7 stone, 10 pounds and I could not walk. The food in the hospital was pretty good. Every day, I received two pints of goat’s milk, one pint of wine, two loaves of bread, a piece of cheese and two bowls of rice.

On the 20th March, I went back to the Bari camp where I received my first letter from home. On the 24th, I received my first Red Cross parcel, which contained 50 Players. I didn’t know what to do, whether to have a smoke or eat the chocolate. After looking at everything twice I decided to have a smoke and it has to be said that I have never enjoyed a cigarette as much as I did that one.

The contents of an English parcel:

1 tin of biscuits
1 tin of condensed milk
2 tins of M and V (12 oz (ounces) each)
1 pk of tea (2 oz)
1 bar of sugar (3 oz)
1 tin of fish (8 oz)
1 tin of peas (8 oz)
1 tin of cheese (2 oz)
1 tin of meat roll (8 oz)
1 tin of margarine (8 oz)
1 tin of chocolate (4 oz)
1 tin of cocoa (4 oz)
1 apple pudding (8 oz)
1 pk of sweets (3 oz)
1 bar of soap.

The contents of a Canadian Parcel

1 pk of biscuits (1 lb (pound)
1 tin butter (1 lb)
1 tin of jam (1 lb)
1 tin of bully (12 oz)
1 pk salt (1 oz)
1 tin of mat roll (8 oz)
1 pk cheese (4 oz)
1 pk coffee (6 oz)
1 pk sugar (4 oz)
1 bar chocolate (5 1/2 oz)
1 tin of Clim powdered milk
1 pk raisins (12 oz)
1 pk prunes (6oz)
1 tin of salmon (8 oz)
1 tin of herrings (3 ¼ oz)
1 bar of soap.

Contents of a New Zealand parcel

1 lb butter
1 lb jam
1 lb honey
1 lb bully
1 lb rabbit and bacon
1 tin of coffee Olay
1 tin of ration chocolate
1 pk of raisins (12 oz)
2 tins of tea (3 oz)
1 tin of cheese (1 lb)

We received one parcel every seven days and 50 cigarettes, plus 20 Italian cigarettes and a cigar. While I was in Bari, there were no more than400 in the camp, so we had a pretty good time. The football ground was full sized and we had a baseball pitch. The camp itself was very clean and there was a South African Major in charge, who would do anything for the S.A. and nothing for the Tommy (British). The camp R.S.M. was Australian and liked by every man in the camp. The Red Cross sent plenty of books and indoor games, footballs, rugby balls and even a small band, which gave a concert every Sunday night.

Up to now, we had been walking round in Italian clothes, while the staff who were nearly all South African, went about in B.D. (Battle Dress). A few more and I were going around bare feet for nearly three weeks. The Australian R.S.M. acquired for us, B.D., full boots, overcoats in July.

On the 17 of July, we left by train for another camp, which is the one I am now in, P.G 70. On the way here, I could see where our air force had been and the damage done. When we got off the train, just outside P.G. 70, it looked pretty good from the outside, but when we saw the inside, our views changed. In one bungalow, 600 men, eat, sleep and live. There are 8470 men in the whole camp. Some of them don’t know what cleanliness is, they throw dirty water on the floor, coffee dregs and empty tins all go on the floor. But while some try to be clean, others would never get out of bed if they could help it. We have one man who sweeps up twice a day, others never think of washing any clothes. They walk around in a dirty vest and dirty shorts all day and only have one wash a day. The water isn’t plentiful, but there’s enough to get washed three times a day. We were given a bowl on entering the camp which is for a hot meal and to wash out of. We made our own drinking mugs from biscuit tins, knives from tin and plates and reading lamps from tin.




Camp Daily Orders
Rise.................................06.30
Roll Call..........................07.00
Tea or hot water...............08.00
Parcels.............................09.30
Bread...............................10.00
Hot water.........................12.00
Hot meal..........................16.00
Roll Call..........................17.00
Hot water..........................18.30
Lights Out........................22.30

Camp Strength....................................8470

One can always find something to pass the time away; there are plenty of indoor games. Football all day, Rugby, Cricket, and there is always a talk on something and there are different meetings going on.
There’s the PG 70Times newspaper and posters, and there’s a market. If we have something in your parcel that we do not like, we can go to the market and change it for something else.

In a camp with all these men, we can always find someone who has done a type of work in civil life. The ones who run the PG 70 Times are three that have worked in printing, two are cartoonists and others are journalists. The concerts are run by one who did stage work and the band is comprised of people who have played for some band before the war. The stage shows are taken from pictures (movies) that have been shown in England. The stage is made out of Red Cross boxes and Italian ground sheets. Dresses for the actors are made by the lads in the camp. The cloth is bought from the Italians by all the men in the camp.

The Italians have been building a tower in camp, which holds 3,000 gallons of water. Bu now that it is finished, it leaks and now it takes three days to fill up and three hours to empty. It will not fill whilst it is being used.

20 August 1943: There are just 12,074 Red Cross parcels in the camp and eight days’ bulk. Every morning, one of the lads in our bungalow goes round for Griff (information) from home. Anyone who receives a letter with anything of interest in it such as, so and so film star was married, or cigarettes are 1 / 2 ½ (6p) (1s 2 ½ d) for ten, or beer is 10d (4 ½ p) per pint, these things are written down and read to everybody in the camp (a camp being 2,200 men) and there are four camps.

Football
The football ground is 75 yards long and 35 yards wide, we have only the one ground and everybody wants to play. So, No.1 camp has it one day and No. 2, the next etc. There are approximately 48 groups of 50. One of the boys runs the football; two teams of nine players take play for half an hour, then two more take over, and so it goes on until 18.30., then there is a big match played. Last night it was England (2) v Wales (2). Tonight, it’s D.L.I. v R.A.

We have had some heavy rain these last three days and the camp is deep in mud. When it is fine, a great many sleep outside because in the bungalows, it is very stuffy. The beds are three high and there are only two doors and six windows.

Today is Sunday, the fifth of September and there is only four days’ bulk left in the camp and there is no sign of any more Red Cross parcels coming, with all the railways being bombed. The news gets better every day, we are still hopeful of being away by the end of September.

The camp boxing took place last week and it passed two good evenings away. We had the last of the Red Cross cigarettes last Wednesday, so now there are very few around the camp. Now it is getting like Benghazi; the boys are smoking Italian tobacco rolled in any bit of paper. In Benghazi, some were smoking tealeaves and fig leaves. I’ve never tried them, so I don’t cannot say what they are like. If a person has any English cigarettes, he can buy anything.

Bulk Parcels.
1 lb (pound) tin of sausages, 2 oz. (ounces) of tea,
2 tins of M.V. 10 oz. each, 4 oz. of cheese,
1 lb. Of butter, 4 oz. of sugar,
1 tin of condensed milk, 1 lb. Of biscuits,
1 bar of chocolate, 1 bar of soap.

The chocolate is very good, made into a drink.

How to pass a day in P.G. 70:
This is what I did when the parcels were in plentiful supply:
06.00, out of bed And a good wash.
06.30, went for a half mile run, then walked two miles.
07.00, Roll Call.
07.30, wash and clean up, and a little read.
08.00, breakfast and another read.
09.30, Go round and have a chat with some of the unit lads, then have a walk round the camp; watch a game of football then read the notice board.
12.00, tea up, and a light lunch, then read until about two.
14.00, play a game of chess, sometimes the game takes a few minutes, or a few hours.
16.00, hot meal.
16.30, wash and a walk round.
17.00, roll call.
17.30, game of football.
18.00, bath, hot if possible.
18.30, hot water.
19.00, watch a game of football.
20.00, Go round to see a townie.
21.30, have a brew of tea and a little to eat, then go for a walk or have a game of chess.
23.00, bed time. If it’s fine, I sleep outside, if it’s damp, inside.

I was well in with a lad from Sheffield. He worked in No 2 Com Cookhouse. I spent many nights with him in the cookhouse. Sometimes, it was midnight before I got to bed. I’ve had a sweet rice pudding at with a mug of tea at 03.00


A Copy of the P.G. 70 Times

Miner’s Holiday
Miner’s big day by the sea.

Last week, the miners of the County of Durham spent one of England’s best summer weeks by the sea. This is the first holiday they have had with pay since pre-war

Donkey Derby was won by the well known jockey, Gordon Richards. Harry graves was second followed by Cliff Richardson.
The course was crowded with all the race fans of the year. This year’s Derby was won by Fair Play, owned by Dorothy Pagan. H Woolerson holds the mile record with 2 m. 7 2/5 seconds.




PG 70’s Chess tournament plays the first game on Tues 7th The game will be played on the green at 2.30 p.m. every day. There are 93 entries up to today Mon 6th. The players will play one game only.

No 3 won the Darts Competition last week by 37 games to 13.

Racing:
PG 70 held its fifth racing meeting last week on the green. With a great crowd of race fans waiting for the first race.

8/9/43...........The camp is running very low in parcels. Tomorrow is the last day and it is my day to draw. We have been having one every ten days. Each man draws his own panel, some go in pairs which is a good idea because it makes it run out better. If one is one’s own, his meat doesn’t last long because all tins are punctured and it has to be eaten very quickly.
But now we are not worried, now that our boys are in the same country as we are and the news is good. It is good the way we get the news. Some of the lads in the camp go out to work every day at the slaughterhouse. They are killing all the stock from the farms that have been bombed out. They leave camp at 13.30 every day and bring an Italian paper back, which is read out the next morning by some who know how to read it.

England play Scotland tonight at football. While the football was in play, two Italians ran into the camp to let our officers know that the war between the Italians and English had finished. The football finished at 8.20 p.m. and at 8.27 p.m., it was given out that it was finished. The boys in the camp went mad with joy, some were crying, some were shouting, others singing.

At 9 p.m., the band came out and played ‘God Save The King.” It was great to hear the band play it for the first time. There weren’t many that went to bed that night.


9/9/43: In the night, someone had climbed the water tower and put the Union Jack on the top, and it’s still there. We get the B.B.C. News in the camp now instead of Rumours. We are now waiting for our own troops to arrive now, which won’t be long.

As soon as the Italians made peace, our W.O.’s (Warrant Officers) and N.C.O.’s began to let everyone know their ranks. The W.O.’s went out on their own as usual. I’m alright, why should I worry about you?

11/9/43.......A concert was held on the green. It was a great show and lasted until 23.15 hours. Three or four parties went out for a swim and some for a walk and some for a walk. Some of them caused trouble, so there has been a stop put to swimming and walks. Over 7,000 men want to go for a walk but they cannot because three hundred couldn’t behave themselves.

The W.O.’s can still go for a swim whenever they want and can go to the nearby towns about eight miles away. The men are not allowed out and should not be allowed. A great many left camp and did not return. A sergeant took one party of about 20 men with them. The news is very good. We are allowed out in parties of six and one N.C.O. A great many went out and didn’t return, so it was stopped.
The Italians have a football ground just outside the camp by the lake; you go through the bottom end of the camp. I should say about two thousand went to see the game, but instead of all coming back after the finish, half of them went for a walk in the countryside and came back just before dark. Others came in at all hours of the night, some didn’t come back. A great deal of damage was done. Major Parks gave a lecture about all the damage that had been done in the last few days and one of the lads in the camp took the Italian Major’s car downtown and came back sometime in the night. One lad who is a very good boxer was in town and started fighting the Italian Soldiers. When he had finished, five Italians lay on the roadside. He was brought back to the camp and nothing was said.
The walks stopped again the following day, but some got out by giving the Italian sentry a bar of soap or a pair of socks. One lad gave a complete P.P. and the sentry let him and his two pals out at 2.00. a.m.

The parcels are very low.
Monday 13th we received one Canadian parcel between two.
Thursday 16th ....1 tin of jam between 3
1 packet of biscuits between 2
4 oz (ounces) of cheese each
Friday 17th..........1 tin of M.V. between 3
1 bar of chocolate between 3
Saturday 18th...... 1 pk of fruit between 8
1 tin of meat between 2
1 tin of margarine between 4
Monday 20th........One Canadian parcel between 4
15th: went out for a walk; three of us went together and went to a great many farmhouses. We took one vest, two pairs of socks, one scarf and we came back with three big loaves, about 3 lbs (pounds) each, thirteen new laid eggs, nine pints of wine and four lbs of tomatoes. Apples, grapes and peaches we picked on the our way back. We left camp at 15.00 hours and returned at 22.30 hrs.

16th: Left camp at 16.30, returned at 22.00
We took one Italian coat, one pair of socks and a shirt. We got 15 eggs, 2 lbs (pounds) of tomatoes and eight pints of wine
17th: We intended going out about ten this morning, but Jerry surrounded the camp at 09.20 and no one knew until four Jerry Officers walked in the main gate with a Tommy gun under their arms. It was the best and quickest thing I’ve seen take place. The Jerry Officers told Major Parkes that they were an advanced party and they had come in very quietly and would go away quietly. We were told that they were here for 24 hours, just to keep us inside the camp until some of his troops pass through.
The camp leaders have just been sent for by Major Parkes who was ordered by the Jerry Officer. I’m waiting till they come back, then I’ll write it down (it is two hours since the Camp Leaders were sent for and we haven’t heard anything yet).
Ever since the Italians stopped fighting on 8.9.43, Major Parkes has been telling the camp that patrols have been out on the hills around and if there are any signs of Jerry, or our troops, we would know at least six hours before anyone could arrive at our camp. The other day, the 15th, all the Italians left except the officers and a few sergeants.

Today, Jerry arrived at the camp main gate before anyone knew her was here. No i don’t believe there are 10% of the men in camp, nor do I believe a word major Parkes has said in the last two weeks. If the Jerry pulls away, nearly all of the camp will leave for the hills.
Major Parkes has not walked through the camp today. The boxing tonight has been cancelled; we are not allowed to have the lights on after 21.00 hours.
We have just heard what Major Parkes said: If we stay inside the camp, Jerry will stay outside and no one will walk about after 21.15 Hours.

18th: A few shots were fired in the night, but everything is very quiet this morning. The Italian flag has been taken down today. If the Jerry saw the Union Jack on the water tower, I think he’d have had a lot to say, but the Jerry has no flag flying and there are no Italians. Somebody has to have their flag up. We are now German prisoners with the Union Jack flying. The German officer wanted to buy some cigarettes, but the Italians said they hadn’t any, so Major Parkes gave them some English ones that were left in the stores. The Jerry had been filling his tanks up and putting plenty of food at the ready, in case of having to pull out. Everyone in the camp seems to think he will go tonight, he doesn’t seem to worry about us, as long as we keep quiet and don’t bother him.

We have just heard that the 8th and 5th Armies have joined the 7th Army, 60 miles south of here.

19th: We had a little news this morning, which Jerry didn’t know we’d received; from a wireless in the camp. Our troops are coming up very fast and the Jerry is retreating very fast. He is going past the camp on the East Coast Road at full speed, and not worrying about P.O.W.s

Two Jerry three ton lorries have arrived from Port St Giorgio, full of Canadian red Cross parcels, and they are now being unloaded in camp. The big wireless in camp is always playing, since Jerry came, but it’s all German. The Jerrys went to camp 59 and there were no prisoners in left camp, but they found the Italians there. The Italians had been helping themselves to the Red Cross parcels that were left. The jerry didn’t like it, so he set into them and brought all the parcels back to our camp; approximately 8,000 all told. The German Officer saw our rations come in and when he saw the greens, he told them to throw it away. He said they weren’t fir to eat and that the bread wasn’t big enough.
The parcels arrived at 17.30 hours and that cigarettes were given out at 18.15 hours. We received 25 each week. Six men from the camp went out to take our bread, but last night, they arrived back at 18.00 hours and the German officer sent 16 again at 19.00. They were baking all night.

20th: Every man in camp received one parcel each. Some more German troops arrived, but left . I cannot say where to. The wireless has been playing all day, No. 3 gives its boxing contest tonight. No 1 and No. 2 gave theirs on the 15th and 16th.

Two Sergeants were shot be Jerry while they were on one of the farms. One is doing well but the other died at 16.20 hours on the 20th of September. They were shot on the night of the 18th.

21st September: I have just looked up the water tower and I’m sorry to sat that the Union Jack does not fly any more. I cannot say if was taken down, or if it fell down.

23rd Sept, the first batch of the bags left by railway tracks, destination unknown, 1500 left.

24th: An Italian civilian came into camp with his cart full of foodstuff. It was drawn by two oxen. The German inside the gate took all his foodstuff and his oxen, then told him to take the cart away.

Yesterday morning, one Italian guard started pushing one of the lads that were moving out. The lad dropped his kit and hit the Italian guard. The guard went for his revolver, but then a German sergeant told the lad it was all right. The German sergeant had got the Italian guard covered with his revolver. The German troops do not trust the Italians one bit. One day, the Italians are fighting for him, the next day, for us. The German officer takes the Roll Call every morning now, and if anyone is moving, we know by 10.00 Hours.

4000 men are left in camp, today being the 25th and he intends to move every one in the next two days. All this was written in pencil while on the train, and then put down in ink. On the afternoon of the 24th, there were fires all round the camp. The boxing ring went up in smoke at 17.50 hours. Italian beds were thrown on to burn.

No. 4 camp left on the 23rd. Half of No2 and No 3 left on the 24th. We received orders to move the following day.


 

25th: At 07.00 hours, we were all packed up and at 12.00 hours, we marched through the gate. As we went through, we received on invalid parcel and some got a book.

We did pretty well with the red Cross food and cigarettes that were left in the magazine and the last to leave would be better off. After getting our parcel, we were put into very small cattle trucks. Of the forty in each, every one had to stand because there wasn’t enough room to sit down. .
We travelled north to Port St Giorgio, just 15 kilometres from camp. Here we got into larger cattle trucks; as soon as we were inside, the doors locked on the outside. The only openings were from small windows at the top and they had thick netting on. Inside the truck was a tea chest and a Dixsy. The Dixsy contained cold coffee, ½ pint per man, and the tea chest had rations. Each man got three loaves of bread, each one weighing 8 oz (ounces), one piece of cheese (3 oz), one six ounce tin of bully and 12 cigarettes, that is to last us for three days. The rest of the day passed. We had to get down to it early owing to no lights in the truck. There wasn’t enough room to lay down, so we had to sleep sitting up. It was very warm and stuffy through the night.

26th. Every one was awake at 05.30 hours; at 09.30 hours, the doors were opened for ten minutes, then closed again.

As the day passed, it got colder as we travelled north.
27th: It rained in the night and half of us didn’t sleep owing to the cold. The doors opened at 10.00 hours for five minutes and the rest of the day went very slowly.

Up to now, we had only travelled northwards and now we were going west. At 22.00 hours, every one was resting when the train stopped and three German officers came round to count us before we pass through the Brenner Pass into Austria.

28th: It rained all night and at 07.00 hours, a train passed us with snow on the roof. The doors opened at 08.00 hours and half a dixsy of boiled barley and ten two pound loaves of black bread, and later on, we had a dixsy of cold water.

The trucks are worse than pug sties now. There’s one thing all German officers and men cannot understand, and that is that our lads are always happy and singing, no matter what they go through.

29th: We are somewhere in Germany. As we were singing, the train stopped inside a large station. A German sergeant told us to stop singing. All the civilians look downhearted and not one of them has a smile. At 15.00 hours, we pulled into a siding where we finished our train ride. We could see the camp, just a few minutes’ walk and it takes us until 19.00 hours before we get there. The night was very cold and we had sleep on the floor of some unfurnished bungalows.

30th: The first thing I saw was a frost on the ground. At 12.30 hours, we got one loaf to four men (1,500 gm), ½ oz margarine each. At 15.20 hours, we received five small potatoes, boiled, and something else, but I don’t know what it was and no one else did. Everything is going all right, but for cigarettes; we just cannot get parcels or cigarettes here and the Jerry doesn’t give cigarettes to prisoners, so we’ll have to wait until we reach a permanent camp in the middle of Germany.

I have just got over a four-day illness. With parcels, we shall be able to live pretty well. But the weather is very cold first thin in the morning. We get news from the German papers, but you cannot believe it. The last seventeen days have been very bad.

We left this camp at 08.30 hours and walked five miles to another camp. We stayed there three days, then went through a hot bath, had all our hair off. This took place at 01.30 hours in the morning. We arrived in another campo at 02.30 hours. Here, they got a parcel every fortnight.

I have been in this camp with a pal of mine for ten days now, and still not had a parcel, but the N.C, O, s, the Americans and Navy have had one. We two cannot have one because we are going out working. We have both been put onto a party to leave, we lave at 15.00 hours this afternoon. We left at 04.50 hours, where to, we do not know. We have been on the train for fourteen hours and now we have finished. We arrived at the place where we are to work. It is a gas works and our room is the right size for 25 of us; it has a small fireplace and the beds are very clean and good. We are fed by the firm and the food wasn’t very much at the beginning, but it’s a lot better now, but we need it with the work we do. I have a nice warm job; I am working on the fires. We have had no parcels for three months, but we are expecting them sometime next month.

The cigarette situation is the worst here. Sometimes we get them from the French prisoners who come into the works with carts. All the German civilians get there every day; even the German Army only get three per day.

The winter was the worst I have seen in my life. One place, 19 kilometres from here, the snow was ten feet deep. Food was dropped by planes. We kept getting bits of news from different places. One German civilian was known to us as “Hello boys,” Another is known as “The American,” because he said he used to live there. Every week, we get the P.O.W. called “The Camp”. We have two rooms to live in now. The old room has 15 in it, and the new one had 10. The food is a lot better these days, but we still throw a lot thought the window into the river. We get plenty of Red Cross parcels now. I’ve only ha done cigarette parcel here.

The weather is very cold, but we have had some lovely weather these last few months.

2/9/44: It is getting near to the end of the fifth year of war, and we heard at 19.00 hours that the American and English troops came into Germany at 2 o’clock yesterday. This came from a French man, then a Jerry civilian ½ an hour later.

It is 21.30 hours and two of the English boys are trying to get the English news on the wireless in the guards’ room downstairs. The lad has just run up with it, but they didn’t get it all. This is the third time they have tried, and they have only just found out that the time here is the same as in England.

We have nearly all of our kit taken from us at night before we are locked in, owing to many English prisoners getting away.

All the German people are getting very frightened these days. Some old men who work here are being called up to fight. Lads of 15 and 16 are going as well. One workman I know here told us the police came to his house. They knew the son was the only one in the house, so the police asked him if he would like to be an S.S. man. He said, “When i get a little older, I might.” They came for him a few days later.

The chef of the works here always keeps two pigs; they were killed in November for Christmas. It was our first anniversary on the 30th of November, so we had a good dinner and a little bit of the pig. Christmas is getting near, so we are doing our best to have a good one. Some of get chocolate changed for bread from the French (or coupons). I get 3 ½ lbs for a bar from a civil French driver who comes in for gas. For the coupons, we can either get 500 gms of bread or 375 gms of meat per coupon. A fortnight before Christmas, three of us went, together with some meat and the English parcels; we were able to make a steam pudding and a pie. With a bar of chocolate, I asked a little friend of mine to ask his mother to make a cake for me. His mother sent it on Christmas Eve. It was a very nice one. My young friend is a young German boy of 16 years of age. He is an electrician; he is always in our lager and he likes our cigarettes too.

24/12/44: Christmas Eve once again, but we have no snow on the ground (I wasn’t working today, only 12 men worked). I put up trimmings and made ten Christmas cards for the ones in our room. We have a Christmas tree, which our guard brought us. But the civilians are not allowed one this year. The German children don’t get much for Christmas. If they get an apple and a sweet, they do very well.

Some French prisoners work in a wood yard over the river. We speak to them very often. One of them has an accordion so they let us have it for Christmas week. We all sing on Christmas Eve. Generally, we are all in bed for nine or ten every night, but tonight, it was 12.10 before we turned in.

25/12/44:
I was up at 05.30 hours for work at 06.00. 12 men worked but seeing as 10 wagons of coal came in, six more turned out. The Air Raid alarm goes every day; when it goes, we always know it’s dinnertime because it goes at 11.45 every morning. The German civilians say, “No alarm today, it’s Christmas.” But look on the other side. As the clock pointed at 11.30, the alarm went full blast. At 11.35 we could hear them coming from the south. At 11.40 hours, we saw them. It was a great sight; the sky was full of them. After waiting for ten minutes, we heard it coming down. It was a good way off. Some time back, in September, Langh Losser was hit with six small bombs, but it made a mess of it. That was approximately 200 yards away. Stones went everywhere; four came into the works. One came through the roof and fell behind one of the beds. It broke a form and chocolate was all over the place. One went through the window of the works Forman and broke everything. That made him mad for weeks. His son-in-law is in America as a P.O.W. The bombers came back at about 12.30 – 1.30 and the alarm went again. The place they went for was Brikes, a small arms works.
I had finished wok by 10.15 hrs, but six of the boys on coal worked until 15.30 hrs, so we had our dinner at night. The German dinner wasn’t very good, but at 17.00, we had our own dinner, which we provided ourselves.

Programme for Christmas Day:

06.00..................................German coffee. Work until 10.00.
09.00..................................Breakfast: boiled potatoes, bread and butter, tea.
12.00..................................Dinner from cookhouse: boiled potatoes, boiled pork, red cabbage, coffee.
14.00..................................Cake, cheese and butter, tea.
17.00..................................Our own dinner: fried potatoes, onions corned beef, steamed raisin pudding, pie, Cake, butter and jam, tea.
19.00...................................Singing with the accordion.
20.30...................................Biscuits, butter, cheese, tea; not forgetting plenty of smokes all day.
23.00...................................Bed time.

The rest of the week passed quickly; we had two days off for New Year with 12 men working each day. If we want anything, we get it from some German. As I write this, one of the boys has walked in with a 10 lb (10 pounds, approx 4 kilos) sack of spuds. It cost him a bar of chocolate.

If we want butter or sugar, we can get them at any time; all it costs is one bar of chocolate. I’ve just heard that the civilians have had their sugar cut down this month but they get a little extra jam. I’ve just heard that there has been no tea or coffee in this country for four years; cocoa has not been seen for seven years and chocolate for five years. So you can see why we can get anything we ask for. The Germans get just one cigarette a day, so for a few cigarettes, we can get anything. Last week, I managed to get four packets of custard powder; one packet makes ½ a pint. The civilian don’t bother with them because they cannot get the sugar and milk to make it, so we get them for one cigarette.

We manage to get the English news at 21.00 hrs, at least twice a week; sometime every night. One of our lads had a very bad fall last Sunday morning (the temperature was 16 degrees below zero). He was taken straight to hospital; he’d fallen approximately ten feet down a ladder. It’s not been too bad for the last two days. Yesterday, it was four below, but today it was 15 ½ below zero, until after dinner, when it went up to 7 below. It’s 18.00 now and it’s 11 degrees below. We are expecting it to be very cold tomorrow morning. The civilians go to be at 7 o’clock because they have no fires, but we use two buckets of coal between 15.00 hrs and 22.00 hrs. We have two rooms, so we have two fires.

27/1/1945
We have just received our last parcel and have no idea when the next one will come. There’s been no mail since Christmas. The work is getting very low now because the coal is running out and there’s no sign of any more.

5/2/1945

Our rations are cut once more, so is the civilians’. Every day is getting worse.

8/2/1945

Today has been a very bad one, very little work to do which is good for us. There’s enough coal to last another week. There’s very little to eat and nothing to smoke. Two of the lads had a fight last night, everyone here is fed up. We had an air raid on the sixth of February 1945. One town near here had it very bad. All the mains were blown up: gas, water, electricity and food dumps went up.

Another Sheffield lad and I have been watching some chickens over the last few days, we will be after one or two of them in the next day or two. The weather is getting warmer and the snow is nearly gone. We had a parcel of books come in today; posted to Italy in July 1943.

Today is 12/2/1945 and everything is quiet these days with very little work and very little food. The weather is warmer but sometimes a little cold in the morning. It was very nice weather today (14/2/1945) but there was an air raid about 50 Km away.

14/2/1945
Today ahs been a great day, the air raid went just after dinner and we knew it. Bombs dropped very close; approximately 10 km away. We could feel the works shake; there were plenty of planes overhead and we could hear the bombs coming down. At 21.30 hrs, they came once more, but this time, a little closer. We saw the planes and the bombs as they left the planes as they dropped all the way around us and very close to us. Once, we could see a church, but now we cannot. A great many workmen here have had their houses blown up. A Buchholz, they had it bad, 58 houses, a church and many other things were blown up when a land mine cam down. We heard the B.B.C. News very good today.

15/2/45:

They were over here again at 20.45 hrs. they dropped the bombs very close.


 

17/2/1945:

I started work today after having four days off with the ‘flu. The air raid went at 15.00hrs today but we never saw anything. The young German lad came in today and told us all about the damage. We heard the B.B.C. news last night; the news was good, but Joe isn’t coming quickly enough for us. He is close to Dresden and ha gone north and south of Dresden, and by going south, he is on his way down here.

We have just heard that Joe has stopped for a while. The air raids go every day and night now.

22/2/45:
The planes were over this morning and in the night, we were in the shelter from 03.30 hrs until 05.00hrs. They came again at 10.30 hrs., we take as much kit as we can carry with us, for in case the Lager gets bombed. We have just had the B.B.C. and Joe is coming in slowly and the Americans are coming too. There were 1260 bombers and 500 fighters over here this morning. Our rations are going down every month. What we get all day wouldn’t make a good meal and no more parcels are coming in. I received a letter from Mr. Jackson, the first letter I’ve had since November the 4th.

25/2/1945:
We have just received some great news; there are parcels at the Stalag waiting for us to go and get them. All 22 of us are trying to get a truck to fetch them. There were 25 of us, but two went back to camp to get new teeth and one is in hospital, he got burnt on his arm and back. One lad got a small 10 cwt (hundredweight, 50 Kilos) truck on the 28th of February. This happened while the air raid was on, but he couldn’t go until the 1st of March. On the 27th of February, I received a letter from Mother that was posted on the 20th of November.
The truck left at 07.30 hrs and arrived back at 15.45 hrs in time for tea. We received one American parcel and it is the best parcel I have ever seen. American parcels go in numbers. There are numbers: 1-2-8-9-10-11-18-20-21; we got number 10.

Contents of American parcel number 10:
1 lb margarine,
1 lb powdered milk,
1 lb raisins or prunes,
8 oz (ounces (app 240 gms) of cheese,
4 oz coffee
2 tins of fish 3 ½ oz each
12 oz tin of M.V.
8 oz of chocolate
12 oz meat loaf
4 oz jam
1 pkt of multivitamin capsules
2 bars of Swan white soap
1 lb of cereal
100 cigarettes


March the 1st was a good day: air raid at 08.30 and 12.00 hrs. The sun shines all day and parcels and letters come at night.

2/3/1945:
Air raid at 10.40 until 12.15 hrs; a little snow at night.

3/3/1945:
Four wagons of coal dust. Coal is very hard to get, there is very little work to be done owing to the shortage of coal. Air raid from 10.20 hrs until 12.30 hrs.
Another alarm at 16.10hrs until 16.50 –snowing all-day, very windy and cold.
The guar brought a wireless to one of the lads who knows all about them, to mend. It doesn’t need mending. He brought it so that we can listen to the English news at 18.00 hrs. The news is very good.
12 months ago, our bread ration was: 460 gms per day, then it went down to 440 gms per day, then to 414 gms. It’s going to go down again next week. All day long, all the lads are saying is, “Roll on Joe.”

The two lads came back from Stalag at midnight and were very pleased to be back. They say the Americans are dying like flies. The other lad came out of hospital this afternoon, and he says it’s all right there. The air raid went again at 20.50 hrs; it only lasted 20 minutes. We had a little news at 21.15 hrs but two lads waited until midnight for the 12 o’clock news, but very little was different.

4/3/1945
It’s snowed all day, by night it was a foot thick. One workman will do anything for a cigarette and I got four potatoes from him for two cigarettes. He’s bringing more tomorrow. We heard the 21.00 news, very good, Joe is still coming.
5/3/1945
The snow is pretty thick, but no more I coming down. Air raid from 10.45 hrs until 12.20.

6/3/1945:
No raids over here for three days. It’s still snowing. One wagon of coal, two wagons bringing coke to keep the fires going. We heard the 18.00 hrs news and our lad are doing well. Plenty of parcels on the way by train and by road. We are expecting two American parcels this next week.

10/3/45:
It’s rained all day, but the snow is going away very slowly. An air raid at 20.50 hrs until 21.15 hrs. we heard the 18.oo hrs and 21.00 hrs news from England. Our boys are doing well on the Western front. Joe is doing very well. Berlin has had a raid every day for the last nineteen days. The young German lad who came to see me is leaving this Thursday for the army. He is only 17 years old. His father is a prisoner in England, just outside Birmingham. Our bread has been cut down again, now we only get 398 grams per day. We are hopeful parcels will be here this week.

12/3/45:
Went up to town for potatoes for the cookhouse and I finished up with ½ cwt (hundredweight) between two of us; air raid from 11.15 until 11.50 hrs. While working on the slack heap, two young women came to me and asked me if I’d give them some good cokes. I’m told them that I couldn’t, but told them to come back at 19.00 hrs when I gave them some coal.
It will be a hundred year before the following happens again: 12.3.45.

13/3/45:
The weather is getting warmer, very quiet all day. The two women came again at 19.00 hours. 4 of the lads worked on three wagons of coal from 17.00 until 21.30 hrs in which the alarm went twice.

14/3/45:
Air raid at 1.30 hrs and again at 17.10 hrs. Berlin has now had 23 day of raids on the trot. The two women are coming at 19.30 hrs and we hope to have a good night. They bring us different things such as cigarettes, beer, cakes and a kiss now and then.

15/3/45:
Very warm all day, air raid from 13.00 until 14.15 hrs. We have just got to know that 20,000 parcels have arrived at Stalag and the Jerry will not let anyone go for them. Every commando in IV F wants to go but the Jerries won’t let them, so we have no idea when we’ll get them now. Another raid at 20.50 hrs lasted until 22.25 hrs. We heard the B.B.C. news that was very good. Joe is coming our way, and will we be pleased when he does come? Roll on Joe, that’s all our lads are saying all day long.

17/3/45:
Rain all day; raid from 11.40 until 13.30 hrs.

18/3/45:
Rain all morning, nice and fresh after dinner. We are expecting the parcels some time this week. Alarm from 12.15 hrs until 13.00 hrs. On the B.B.C. last night, it told the German people to move out of four big towns because our troops were going to smash them. But the people cannot go, for if they stay, they will get killed by the bombing and if they try to leave, they will be shot by the German troops for leaving. Spring is here and the weather is lovely; sunshine every day.

22/3/45:
Air raid for 2 ½ hours. I enjoyed two hours’ sleep. No news of parcels yet. B.B.C. news is very good again.

23/3/45:
Raid for 1 ½ hours. The news is good; we have just heard that Gen. W. has stated his push. Let’s hope it won’t be long now. Joe is still coming.
24/3/45:
Raid from 11.35 hrs until 13.25 hrs. A letter came from Stalag saying there are no parcels for us yet. |Lovely weather all day. Our bellies are feeling empty these days. All we do is pinch when we have the chance; last week, I got 1 cwt of potatoes in two days, one chicken and some onions. If the river here that separates the wood yard and the gas works would go down, I will be able to get one last sack of sugar.

31/3/45:
We heard the B.B.C. News last night and everything is going well. Everyone here thinks the war will finish in April, one or two Say May. We haven’t had any parcels since March 2nd and it is telling on us now. It takes us all our time towel around.

3.4.45:
Nine of the boys at Linton Gardens broke out of their Lager at midnight on Sunday and were caught three days later. No signs of parcels yet. We heard this morning that the guns were heard at twelve o’clock last night, by a good many of the workmen here and the French. We heard that our lads are 50 miles from here.
We are just getting enough food to keep us alive:
Breakfast 09.00 hrs.......4 spoons of Riba,
Dinner at 12.00.............2 or 3 spuds, 2 spoonfuls of Riba (meat twice a week, Wed and Sundays)
Tea 17.00 hrs................340 grms of black bread, 2 spoonfuls of Riba. We get one mug of tea and one of coffee per day, but it’s no fit to drink.
On the 8th of April, the rations get another cut. The Jerries say that the bread goes down another 60 grms per day. The B.B.C. news is good, although it’s at least 3 days old. But we do keep hearing of places that keep falling.

5/4/45:
No sign of any parcels for us until the end of the war. Our dinner today was 5 desert spoonfuls of mashed potatoes, Riba soup for breakfast and ½ a carrot for tea.

7/4/45:
Just heard that parcels are coming tonight; we received 40 French cigarettes today instead of next week. At 17.00, three of us were sitting in the room where we have our dinner> One of the lads said “Is that a lorry at the gate?” He looked though the door and ran up the yard. The other one ran up o the Lagar, when I got out, the lorry was in the war. The news was, one Christmas parcel between two and there are still parcels at Stalag, but the Jerries won’t let them go yet. But there are seven train wagons on the way. Each wagon carries at least 3,000 parcels. The Linton Gardens lads that got away got 3 days bread and water, one Serb that got caught was shot because he killed six Jerries.
We heard our lads were 83 miles away from here, we are just waiting for the B.B.C. News and we hope it’s good.
We’ve just heard the news and it’s good: another 5,000 of our lads have been relieved, that is at least 9,000 in the last fortnight. Our lads are now 68 miles from here.

10/4/45:
We heard today that our planes cam down; machine gunning not very far away. As I am writing this, three bombs drop on the other side of the hill yet the alarm hasn’t gone yet. But the planes are passing overhead. The late news is that parcels are due this weekend. Stalag has had orders to release them. It is rumoured that there are 14,000 more expected this week.

14/4/45:

Today has been a horrible day, very warm. Five alarms, and Tom Roberts who is a Sheffielder lost his Christmas pudding from his kit bag. We have a good idea who took it, but we can’t catch him at it. A lot of foodstuff has gone missing in the last three months.

13/4/45:
A very quiet day, we only had seven air raids and we have heard that the American troops are in Chemnitz, we can hear their gun fire.

14/4/45:
We have heard that our troops are 15 to 20 Km from here. All the civilians are being told to get into their shelters because the Yanks are coming.

15/4 45:
We saw a great sight at 12.45 hrs. Our fighter came over and machine-gunned the main road where all the military transport was standing. At 15.00, they came again. For the last four days, five of us have been thinking of escaping. Today, we made up our minds to go, tonight. At 20.00, we were ready, but two others head of it and left at 20.15 hours. The guard found out at 20.40 hrs. So we had no chance because the civil police were all around.

16/4/45:
Three of us went to hospital, I went to have a tooth pulled, but the dentist wouldn’t pull it, he filled it instead. Our fighters were overhead all day. Not much had been done about the two who got away, Max the guard heard that they were staying with two German women whom they had had dealing with for some time. The civil police went to the house of the two women; nobody knows what happened to them. They are likely to be shot for helping prisoners to escape.

17/4/45:
At 13.00, 630 four-engine bombers passed over with fighters. They went for Dresden and came back at 16.30 hrs.

19/4/45:
The news came in that the American tanks were 18 km from here and the tank alarm is expected any minute. At 11.20 hrs, they were 12 km away. Everyone around was expecting them to come in at any time this afternoon, but they never did. At 17.50hrs, the guns opened up once more, but nearer.

20/4/45:
Hitler’s birthday, last year there were plenty of flags out, but this year, we haven’t seen any. There are fighters all over all day. At 17.30, they came in great force. On the road was a fire fighting transport and the fighters came don for them and until 18.30 hrs, we kept under cover. At 17.20, we were looking up when a bomb left one plane. Did we run? It dropped 200 yards from us. Then they started machine gunning. The big gas tank had 37 holes in and was burning very well. They machine-gunned all of the town, one small workshop in town was burned down, and another badly hit. We heard that our troops are all around us and are 14 km from here.

22/4/45:
Rain and snow all day, fighters came over at 08.30 hrs for about half an hour. No news from anywhere, only rumours that Berlin is finished.

 

Snow and rain all day; very cold. The electricity has been on and off for two days, so we’ve had no news from the wireless. We heard tonight that the American troops were 15 km from here. It’s deadly these nights with no parcels or cigarettes coming in. Everyone is downhearted and nasty tempered, we can’t speak to some of them because the lose their tempers so quickly.

24/4/45:
I had to go to the dentist again this morning; three of us went, one stayed in hospital and it was 11.15 hrs when we go back, so I took the day off. I’ll have to go again on Thursday; that will mean another day off. It’s very cold with a little rain and snow. Two fighters over all morning; no news at all today, they say no news is good news. Let’s hope so. We heard last night that Hitler is in Berlin. If he is, it’s too bad for him. A German woman gave me two cigars yesterday and two more today, for a little coal.
The civilians are crying out now because they can’t buy any cokes and they have no fires or lights. It’s a good sign

25/4/45:
Cold but sunny all day. We heard the 18.00 hrs news from the BBC. We get more hungry every day and more fed up.

26/4/45:
Had tose the dentists today; another day off work. I was lucky that I took a bottle of spirits with me; I got eight cigs. The spirits are used for lamps, but the Ruskies drink it, so we sell it for cigs and potatoes.

27/4/45:
Very easy day; sunny all day until 20.30 hrs, then it rained for two hours. I only had one cigarette today, but hope to get a few more tomorrow when I visit the hospital. It is now 21.30 hrs and we can hear the faint sound of guns.

28/4/45:
Went to hospital at 08.00 hrs and took seven bottle of spirit; I got 40 French cigarettes for them; more coming this afternoon. I had the morning off work, saw some Americans in hospital and they are in a bad way. Some are so thin, you can hardly see them.
The Pole from the hospital came down of five bottles of five bottles of spirits. I got 40 fags; doing well for smokes today. I can hear the sound of gunfire in the distance. It rained today; no fighters over for two days. We heard that Italy is finished and we took 500,000 German P.O.W.s. I couldn’t get the 18.00 hrs BBC news (no power). The trains haven’t run along this line for three weeks between the hours of 06.00 and 20.00. Then they only run from here to 60 km south.

29/4/45:
A little snow today. We hard a good one today: Himler asked England for a lay down of arms for 48 hours while he speaks to Hitler who is supposed to be ill, to see if peace can be had. Everybody thinks that Hitler was killed last year when the bomb was thrown at him. All the photos of him have been taken down and burnt.

30/4/45:It is rumoured that Hitler died this morning (we hope so). Everybody is wondering what Himler will have to say. Our fighter bombers came over in great force at 15.30 hours.
Three lads went sick this morning; we saw 26 other lads who had walked from Chemnitz last week. All they had to eat for eight days was a little soup at 12.00 hrs and 500 grams of bread; the bread had to last the eight days. We hope tomorrow brings good news for everyone.

1/5/45:
A little snow and frost in the night. One lad who had walked from Chemnitz was caught stealing in hospital. It is believed the Americans have started their push this ay.

2/5/45:
The flags were at half mast all day. At 22.00 hrs., last night, the German troops were passing through here. Some of them saw the flags, so they pulled them down and the Home Guard fired at them. They had a battle between them but no one was killed. Our rations are getting worse every week. This week we haven’t had anything but water with one or two potatoes in it. “Roll on the Yanks.” That’s the saying here.

4/5/45:
The Yankees are coming.

5/5/45:
We heard that Chemnitz has fallen without a fight. The war is nearly over; everywhere, they are laying down their arms and now there is only this place to give in, then it’s all over. We had a good dinner today, the first for over a fortnight. We can hear the guns very plainly.

6/5/45:
The war is expected to finish any day, any hour.

7/5/45:
We worked until 15.00 hrs, then the French shouted over and said the war is over for us. Our guard knew at 13.30 but they didn’t tell us. At 19.00 hrs., a German officer told us it was all over, then a small van came and stayed the night. It was left unattended, so we were in it. We found plenty of food and other stuff. The two civilians on nights got a lot of kit to take home. We never went to bed. Six left in the night and started to walk it. At 3.30, I was making flapjacks for all of us. Some of the lads went out to some women friends and had a good time with smokes and drink. It is now 5.15 hrs., and everyone is getting all polished up and ready for, well, I don’t know what to put here, so I’ll say, going home. Yesterday afternoon, 40,000 were sent home by air. We heard the midnight news. It was great.

8/5/45:
At 06.05 hrs, we were told to pack up. We were going home at 06.30 hrs. At 07.30, we started to walk to Elsonhow, 11 km away. We walked up hills and down hills; we rested at 11.30 hrs for one hour. The weather is warm and sunny. We received 13 of a two Kg loaf from the gas works. When we’ll get the any more, I cannot say just yet. We stole some food to last us a few more hours. We walked on until 19.30 hrs, when we met some French at Burnsback. We asked some jerry civilians if they knew where the Americans were and they laughed at us. They didn’t know the war was over.
We walked 34 km all told; we met the French 3 km outside Ause. They took us to their lagar for the night and gave us soup. They had plenty of bread but wouldn’t give us any. At 05.30, we were up, had a little macaroni and soup. At 08.30 we started to walk some more, making for Zwickau, 48 km away. My feet were very sore before we met three Americans in a car who gave us a cigarette. We had three Yanks with us. After another 2 km, we met more yanks who took us a further 3 km. We had a wash, then travelled by lorry another 40 miles to Gera. Here, there were plenty of Americans and P.O.W.s. We received a packet of K rations for dinner. Inside was as follows:
4 Chesterfield cigarettes
1 tin of cheese,
1 pkt of coffee,
1 pkt of matches,
1 bar of chocolate and
1 pkt of P.K.

We moved into a civil house where the people were moved out 4 days ago by the Yanks. The reason for moving them out was that a shot was fired from one of the windows when the Yanks came through. If any shots came from the houses, the people were moved out and all they could take was their food and clothing. The rest was left for us. One lad slept on the sofa, two on a small bed and two on the floor by the fire. Of course, it was 01.30 before we went to bed. We had a piano and a gramophone, a writing table, which i am using now, a sofa and a sideboard. It’s a very nice room, but small.



10/5/45:
It was 06.30 when we woke up to find it was a lovely day. At 07.00. two of us went out and came back with two, 2 kilo loaves and a 2 lb tin of meat, seven pkts of sweets, so we had breakfast at 09.00 hrs. Our rations came qt 12.15. we got one tin of meat and spaghetti in tomatoes, 5 cigs, seven biscuits, 1 pkt of P.K., 1 pkt of coffee, 1 pkt of lemonade powder, 1 bar of chocolate.
We have just had bad news, we are not moving today. There are about another 2,000 expected in this afternoon. Three of the lads have gone out to try and get some bread and one came back with one loaf and three pounds of sugar. At 16.45, our C rations came up.

Tow women who lived in here came in at 09.00 hrs to clean up the place and wash the mugs and plats after our meal. The left at 17.30 hrs, they are living about 300 yards away from here. As I look through the windows, I can see 5 more families being turned out of their houses for more of our lads to live in. Three of the boys went out at 20.00 hrs to try and find something to eat. Shorty and I waited until 23.00 hrs. I had a jug of cocoa ready for supper, when in they walked with four-quart bottles of wine, two of them were red wine. They also had three jars of cherries and 80 American cigarettes.

11/5/45:
We woke at 06.30. We are expecting to move at any hour; we have heard we are going to France by plane to be cleaned up before we go overt to the Motherland We are looking forward to those planes putting their wheels on the ground at home. The two women who come in here every day try their best to make us feel at home. The woman who owns the room, her husband died ten years ago. He was a composer and was well known throughout Germany and other countries. We had an hour’s sleep after dinner then at 15.30, we got the order to pack up. At 15.50, we were on the lorries moving out. There were 50 of us on each lorry, which was too much. We saw a forest fire about 300 yards from the road. Just as we were passing the fire, a great explosion took place. Shrapnel and stones were falling all around. One lad was badly cut around the head and another one stopped it in the arm. The lorry behind us stopped one through the windscreen and broke the driver’s left arm.

We are now waiting for the planes to take us home; we can see the airfield. The Americans have been running this camp until today. This is how it was done: Some English lads came in here, three weeks ago and are still here. but the Americans have been coming in one day and on the planes in less than 24 hours. Another thing is the meals. The dining hall will only hold 300 at a sitting. The Americans were always first in. they had bacon, sausage, tomatoes, fried potatoes, 3 rounds of bread and jam, and coffee. Now this is what our lads got: 2 or 3 boiled potatoes, tomatoes, one round of bread and coffee. The French got a few boiled potatoes and Jerry bread. The Yanks get American cigs, our lads get none and the French get none.

Tomorrow, 1,000 more men are leaving by plane. Our sleeping quarters are very ba and filthy. The Yanks have very good ones that are clean. We sat talking until 02.00, then we turned in.

12/5/45:
Up with the birds at 06.30, some lads are leaving this morning, at least 1,000. 80 planes have just arrived and we are waiting. It might be any minute, or hours, or even tomorrow, but no later. Some planes are going overhead with some lads in; 25 to each plan. The land in France because they are American plans from here, and British planes from France which can carry only 24 men. We had breakfast at 09.45 which I enjoyed. We had oat meal, scrambled eggs, ginger biscuits, butter and coffee. At 11.30, we got 20 Chesterfield cigarettes, a bar of chocolate, chewing gum and shaving cream. At 12.30, dinner up: mashed potatoes, meat, peas, bread and butter, sweat and cocoa. We are just going down to the square to wait for the lorries to take us to the airport. We arrived at the airport at 14.30, but we had bad luck. At 17.20, we got on the lorries again to go back to camp. I think we are best of, because the ones who went after dinner will not carry on to England until Sunday. We had a lovely dinner on arriving back. Pork, beans, potatoes, milk, tomato soup, tinned pears, bread and butter and cocoa. We had as much as we wanted. The evening is cool, it is now 23.45 and I’m going to bed.
13/5/45:
Out of bed at 06.45, breakfast at 07.30. We were at the airfield at 07.50; we left for Brussels which is a three hour flight. We hope to be in England tonight. We are travelling in an American “C42”. When we reach Brussels, we catch English planes.

I am writing this in the air. As I look through the window, I can see all the towns that have been bombed out. It’s a lovely day and below looks very nice while the sun is out. We are now passing over Aachen, which is very badly bombed. We have just crossed a river into Belgium, but all countries look the same from the air. We are now going down. We can see the ground coming up to meet us. There are lots of planes on the air field. After stepping onto the ground, we were given a cup of tea and a sandwich, then came a 210 mile run in a lorry to camp. On arrival, we went through different things.

At 13.00, we were ready to move at 20.00, but at 18.30, we were on our way again. We were put into hotels for the night where we received chocolate, cigs, soap, razor, toothbrush etc. It’s now 14/5/45, 01.45 hrs and we are still not in bed and we have to be up at 02.30 for breakfast, to catch the planes at 04.00 hrs.

We were on a train by 04.15 hrs heading for France. It’s good to ride on a good train instead of cattle trucks with a Jerry by your side. After we came out of the plane and took the lorry, we passed a small hill with a great stone lion standing on top marking the place of the battle of waterloo where Napoleon was beaten. Every house had flags out, some American, some English, French, Russian and Belgian.

We have just stopped at A.T.H. for 10 minutes. The airfield is 3 miles off. The planes have been waiting for the wind to change. They are not taking risks with ex P.O.W.s. We are now in France, it’s 15.15 hrs and the planes are now taking off as quickly as they are landing. I’m writing this on the landing ground whilst waiting our turn to get into the plane. There’s mine on the ground and the first one is just taking off. They are Lancasters, four engines. They only carry 24 ex P.O.W.s and a crew of six.