Pictures

Albert Nelson

Two Polish girls who helped Albert Nelson when he escaped

Private Albert Edward Nelson

 

Unit : Royal Army Service Corps.

Served : France (captured).

Army No. : T/128996

POW No. : 36111

Camps : Stalag XXB.

 

Albert "Dook" (Duke) Nelson was born at Wanstead, West Ham, London, on the 1st May 1915. On the 26th December 1936 he was married to Elsie Tutte with whom he had two daughters, Pamela Lilian Elsie and Angela. He was captured in France on the 12th June 1940 and spent the remainder of the war at Stalag XXB, however in early 1945 he escaped from the camp just as it was being evacuated due to the imminent arrival of the Russians. The following is the diary that he kept.

 

Events

 

Taken prisoner June 12th 1940. St Valery. France.

Taken Bruges Hospital, Belgium. June 27th 1940.

Left July 12th 1940.

Arrived Germany, July 21st 1940.

First Letter & Red Cross Parcel, March 13th 1941.

News of Jim's death, December 21st 1941.

Taken Hospital Marienburg. Yellow jaundice, February 28th 1942

Left Hospital March 31st 1942.

December 24 - 1944. Tree fell on back

March 18 - 1944. Tree fell on big toe.

 

 

Brief recording of events from time of German would-be removal until Russian occupation and consequent freedom.

 

Sunday 18th February

Berent Polish Corridor From 18-2-45. I am away tonight as the Germans will take us and I intend to wait for the Russians. I am hiding out with Shorty Nixon in the shed where the special boards are stored. 7 o'clock. Have got all our kit over and are going to stay now as it is dark. The boys will cover us for roll call. Too dark to make bed. Very cold. What a night. I can hear a sentry stamping close by.

 

Monday 19th

Kutella has just brought coffee as promised. I am dressed now in civvies and am just going over to the mill. Everything alright. German soldiers did not recognize me. Civvies had a laugh. Agnes {Agnieska} brought hot dinner. Sleeping early tonight owing to darkness. Fairly warm. Went a day too soon as the boys are not going till tomorrow.

 

Tuesday 20th to Sunday 25th

Usual walk around the mill, plenty of German soldiers but took no notice.

 

Sunday Afternoon

Rob and Biddy have broken the lock on the potato cellar, we are moving in tonight.

 

Sunday Night

Are in and are sleeping tonight on three boards apiece. Rob and Biddy have got straw from the barn above. Shorty and me too tired. Another cold night.

 

Monday

Today have laid in boards and straw and now have four beds, comfortable. As usual a visit to the boiler house as is so warm there.

 

Tuesday 27th

Nothing beyond the usual routine. The two girls of Rob and Biddy have started bringing hot supper to us. Great girls.

 

Wednesday 28th

Quiet day.

 

Thursday 1st

Another quiet day. Still burning candles but getting short. The cow boy will bring cable and I will fix light from dynamo in farm used for cutting chaff.

 

Friday 2nd

After dinner fixed cable and got lamp and fixing connected. It is OK now. We will burn it day and night as it is a bit cold here.

 

Saturday 3rd

Quiet day.

 

Sunday 4th

Quiet day.

 

Monday 5th

Mick brought small electric cooker which I wired up. Very handy. Some of the local women started coming to stop the night bringing the children with them. No sleep for us now.

 

Tuesday 6th

Still waiting. At night now have 8 women and 10 children here in cellar.

 

Wednesday 7th

Quite normal until 04.30 hrs when the Russians started shelling with light field gun, which with the exception of a couple of hours break they kept up till 04.00 hrs, firing every 7 mins. Fire in the town, burning strong. None on us yet.

 

Thursday Morning 8th, 7 o'clock

Just getting to sleep in the old man's cottage when Biddy Nisbet comes and says the Russians are here. I tell him to B.O. He said they just stuck him up for a German. I look out and see a few and they don't look like Germans. Go out on the street and find out they are Russians. The Germans were all away in the night without firing a shot. Speak to a few Russians with the help of one of the girls who can talk. Decent enough chaps.

 

About 13.00 hrs went to see Agnieska to say goodbye. In the early evening {Friday}, went again, slept in kitchen, met a civvie from the bottom floor that I had worked with. Said come and stop with him. His wife and two children he had just brought back from a farm. He had to return so wife would be there alone, and would be scared with no man in the house. I accepted. Slept 2 nights and then went to stay with Agnieska. Good bed and food enough. A nice change from prison camp life. Go for a walk occasionally.

 

Sunday 11th to 18th

Still taking things easy. Went to church this morning with Agnieska. One day in the week Russian officers took me and got me drunk. Took my watch for keeps. Agnieska now working for Red Cross helping Polish refugees returning home.

 

Monday 19th

Quiet day.

 

Tuesday 20th

Had a bath at Sophie's. Agnieska working 13.00 hrs till 20.00 hrs. Met her and went to her cousin Sophie. Russian Kapitan came to sleep the night. Said the Russian soldiers would give their life for Churchill. English {Kasasha?}

 

Wednesday 21st

Quiet day. We are thinking of moving with the next lot. Agnes begged me to stay a while longer.

 

Sat 24th

Quiet.

 

Sunday 25th

Went to Sophies. Met there a Russian officer, nice chap. Left 7o'clock returned 20.00 hrs with Agnes. With wine from {Krion?} the officer proposed a toast to Russia, England, America and Poland which we drank. Then had supper and another drink and then home

 

Monday 26th

Visited Sophie with Agnes for supper.

 

Tuesday 27th

Went to {Biv...?} and got pass written out for travel to Thorn. Me in charge. Tomorrow we start. Miss Ochota said she would very much like to come to England. I said I would help, as my wife she could go. Went to Kommandantur for pass, but they said first get paper from a priest and all would be well. Went to Polish Police but out of their hands. Jadwiga decided as Priest afraid to go with me to Thorn, to try there.

 

Wednesday 28th

Gusha fixed me up with a bundle, sugar and 3 loaves and two eggs for the journey. A grand girl that. Like a wife to me. Waited for the boys but they went without me and got transport before dinner. Not worried though. Jadwiga is coming. 13.00 hrs we are off to the station. Agnes came with me and we sat for a while and then went and got in the 'train', open trucks. Moved out of Koscierzyna 17.30 hrs arrived {Scirsk?} 19.00 hrs. Waited there several hours and finally arrived at Laskowitce at 03.00 hrs. Left at 06:30 hrs in train for Bromberg, arriving at 08.00 hrs. Crossed over and lucky enough to get straight away on train for Thorn. Thousands of refugees waiting. Arrived Thorn 11.00 hrs. Went to friends of Jadwiga. More luck. Have a fine six roomed flat, very nice. Had a wash and shave and then dinner and 2 hours sleep. Felt lot better. Then went with Jadwiga to town. Went first to a priest but he could do nothing. Then went to a second and he could do nothing but said in {Congress?} Poland would be better as probably we could get a {Protocol?}

 

Friday (Good) 30th

Visited at Podlashewsky drank a bottle of wine and smoked several cigars. Gave me 6 when I left. Nice family. I was bit cut, but had a sleep and then supper and bed. Had dinner at Polish Red Cross in town.

 

Saturday 31st

Went at 07.00 hrs to get train for Alexandrova but too late. Went to town and had coffee and bread at Red Cross. Then for a long walk, and visited Podla's again, smoked more cigars. Then home, and wrote letter to Gusha.

 

Easter Sunday, 1st April

Had a nice breakfast. Then good dinner. Smoke a cigar. Supper later and early bed.

 

Easter Monday, 2nd April

Got up at 04.00 hrs to get train for Ciechocinek after several hours got marriage certificate. Returned home about 7 o'clock. Hungry. Had supper and went to bed. Anon: Met Londoner who had just been married. He was from Elephant and Castle.

 

Tuesday 3rd April

Met Paddy and went to Red Cross for paper. Then went with Jadwiga to a woman's house to meet an Australian. Had dinner and then went to Podla's to say cheerio. Smoked a couple cigars. He gave me a dozen for the journey. Got packed and went to bed early.

 

Wednesday 4th April

Up at 04.00 hrs for 5 o'clock train. Got on and ordered off. Italians and French also. Got written in as 3 English i.e. Paddy, myself and wife. Walked 12 kilos to a village assembly point for released prisoners returning home. 7 Tommies already there. Plenty of food. Good treatment. English first in everything. Got registered. Would not at first let Jadwiga go but the Kapitan had a nice talk and said he would telegraph which he did. Less than an hour later everything OKd. Went out in the village and got a good bed for the night. Decent people, everything above board. Append. Got baccie issue and papers.

 

Thursday 5th April

Quiet day.

 

Friday 6th April

Quiet day. Perhaps away tomorrow. Jadwiga signed cards allowing her to go with me to Odessa. General came visiting.

 

Saturday 7th April

Kapitan sent for us to say Jadwiga cannot go. Later the General sent an Oberst specially out to explain things. After dinner got ready to leave for Thorn. Left about 19.00 hrs. Got bread, tins of meat, margarine, macaroni and coffee for ten days. Got train and arrived.

 

Sunday 8th April

At Kutno then got goods wagon to Warsaw. Changed again and in the night changed to train for Brest Litowsk.

 

Monday 9th April

Arrived Brest and waited all day for train. Went into town market and got some bottles of Vodka and eggs after selling sack of macaroni. Got train at night for Kiev.

 

Tuesday 10th April

Travelled all day and night, arrived Kiev.

 

Wednesday morning

Got quarters in town, good bed. Train for Odessa leaves tomorrow. In 3 days have covered approx 700 kms. Good sleep.

 

Thursday 12th April

Left at 8 o'clock for Odessa. 26 hours in train. Reported Kommandantur, phoned for lorry but none available. Got street car to the billet. 450 boys there. Got cocoa and food. Met some of the boys.

 

Friday

Went for bath and got complete new rigout. Received slab of choc and 20 cigarettes from Lord Woolveston's daughter. Boat in tomorrow.

 

Saturday

Received choc and 20 cigarettes. Daily ration. Got ready and marched off after dinner to the docks. Got on and had food. Then hammocks. About 10 o'clock, Sgt Major asked for 12 volunteers for good job. I went. It was guarding mental patients. 2 hours on and 6 off.

 

Sunday

Got rations today. Fine. Also shirt, sox, pants & vest.

 

Monday

Got 5 today. Going steady. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Passed Sicily. Everything OK.

 

Saturday

Arrived Naples. Had show on board by Ensa. Very good. Billy & Marie Denton.

 

Supplementary Notes?

Supplied with clothes and food. Informed of movements of Germans so I exercise... At risk of death she brought food and clean clothes... Nursed for cold at home. All this time received no help from anybody else.

 

 

Albert Nelson died at Wanstead, the place of his birth, on the 4th February 2001. His daughter, Angela Cain, would be delighted to hear from anyone who knew her father. Please contact her via Roger Nelson at rog@uk2.net

 

Return to POW Stories Menu