Trooper Gilbert Knott

A note informing Gilbert Knott's family that he has been declared missing

A note informing Gilbert Knott's family that he is a prisoner of war in Italy

British prisoners at P.G. 70

British soldiers of No.1 Compound line up for a photograph

British prisoners dress up for Ascot race day

Gilbert Knott making his own way to the Allied lines on bicycle

Gilbert Knott making his own way to the Allied lines on bicycle

Gilbert Knott in Llandudno in June 1946

Trooper Knott's debriefing questionnaire

The North Staffordshire Prisoners of War Comfort Fund

Trooper Gilbert M. H. Knott


Unit : 4th Royal Tank Regiment, 54th Royal Armoured Corps

Served : North Africa (captured)

Army No. : 7941477

Camps : Tarhuna, P.G. 85 and 70, Stalag IVB and IVF.


May 1944

1 Monday - Worked on top for a day because this is a German worker's holiday and we have to work because it is not observed in England and prisoners work there. Rainy weather.


2 Tuesday - Down the Grube again. Got a kilogram of bread from Devinsky. Drew meat roll and bought a tin of M and V and a tin of salmon. Drew margarine and butter.


3 Wednesday - Got a map of Europe from Devinsky. Bill Bounds had day off to go and have his tooth filled. Rainy day. The men who are working at the brick factory leave at 5 am and return at 7.30 pm. They have been there three weeks now.


4 Thursday - Got a Canadian parcel. Drew biscuits, chocolate, raisins, prunes, sugar, Klim, salt, soap, meat roll, tea, marmalade and cheese.


5 Friday - Received Alice's dated 13-12-43. Little new stuff. 6 Saturday Drew bully and salmon. No mail again.


7 Sunday - Couldn't write today. No letter cards left.


8 Monday - Night shift again. Received mother's dated 21-3-44. Received Alice's dated 22-3-44 and 26-3-44. 32 parcels came in.


9 Tuesday - Didn't go down today. Worked on top. Drew last tin of sardines.


10 Wednesday - On washhouse fatigues. Nothing new . On top again. Lettercards came in.


11 Thursday - Drew an English parcel. Biscuits, cocoa, eggflakes, bacon, tea, sugar, milk, cheese, dates, chocolate, oats and soap.


12 Friday - Received Alice's dated 1-1-44. Received mother's dated 9-12-43, 18-12-43 and 1-1-44. 2000 Canadian parcels came in.


13 Saturday - Had to go down on early shift today. Bill Bounds got a PP. Peter Prebble fetched some clothing.


14 Sunday - Wrote to mother no.53 letter. (Received 1-7-44). Wrote to Alice no.50 card. (Received 14-6-44). Made a dart board in the room. Had a concert.


15 Monday - Day shift. More fag parcels came in. Still unlucky. Red Cross shirts, vests and gloves given out. I was unlucky in these but I won a tin of boot polish. The cost of the lorry to fetch this stuff from Hartmannsdorf was 100 Marks.


16 Tuesday - More fag parcels came in. Bill Bounds got one. Red Cross issue of pencils, notebooks, toothpaste, toothbrush and a razor blade per man. I won a toothbrush, paste and notebook. My lucky night.


17 Wednesday - Boots came up but only two pairs to the room. They were given to lads who ducked last time. Attack has started in Italy.


18 Thursday - Paid 15 Marks for last month. Gave 5 back for beer expenses etc. Drew parcel, butter, jam, milk, sugar, tea, meatroll, raisins, prunes, soup, cheese, biscuits and chocolate.


19 Friday - Received mother's dated 8-3-44. Got an overcoat out of the Red Cross stuff.


20 Saturday - Drew bully and sardines. Cigarettes issued 45 and my turn for ½ a tin of tobacco.


21 Sunday - Working normal shift today. Went at 4 pm into Freiberg for an x-ray on chest. Wrote to mother no.54 (card). (Received 9-7-44). Wrote to Alice no.51 (letter).


22 Monday - A parcel arrived here for me today but I've got to wait until tomorrow to get it. Night shift.


23 Tuesday - Received mother's parcel quite intact. Drew tin of salmon. Snowing slightly.


24 Wednesday - Received mother's dated 20-2-44.


25 Thursday - Drew an English parcel. 40 new chaps came in. One from Burslem.


26 Friday - Received a book parcel from the Red Cross.


27 Saturday - Drew salmon and M and V. Raining.


28 Sunday - Received Alice's dated 27-9-43, 9-10-43, 17-10-43, 30-10-43, 6-11-43,15-11-43, 26-10-43 and 27-11-43. Received mother's dated 8-7-43, 27-9-43, 7-10-43, 15-10-43, 22-10-43, 31-10-43, 9-11-43, 17-11-43 and 24-11-43. Wrote to mother no.55 (card). (Received 30-7-44). Wrote to Alice no.52 (card). (Received 26-7-44). Air raid, saw four flights totaling over 100 planes. Very warm day. Walk.


29 Monday - Very warm weather. Day shift. Another air raid. Planes over. Got a pair of rubber boots for work.


30 Tuesday - Still one more air raid. Very hot. Gave my overcoat away to one of the new chaps. No parcel kit tonight eaten up. Bought a tin of salmon for 10 cigarettes.


31 Wednesday - Bought a bar of chocolate for 20 cigarettes.


June 1944

1 Thursday - Received the Vicar's dated 29-9-43. Received mother's dated 10-3-43, 10-5-43, 18-8-43, 29-8-43, 31-8-43, 7-9-43, 13-9-43 and 20-9-43. Received Alice's dated 2-5-43, 18-8-43, 1-9-43, 5-9-43, 8-9-43, 12-9-43, 15-9-43 and 20-9-43. Drew a Canadian parcel.


2 Friday - Nothing new.


3 Saturday - PP came for me.


4 Sunday - Drew my PP, posted 2nd February from mother. Quiet day. Walk cancelled.


5 Monday - Day shift. Invasion day.


6 Tuesday - Lot of old mail in, but none for me.


7 Wednesday - Raining heavily. Received Alice's dated 4-4-44. Received letter from the Red Cross advising me about the two books.


8 Thursday - Raining. Drew a Perth parcel. 'Topper' Brown, Les Lowe and Deagan buzzed off at about 11 pm. Steve Crompton came back from hospital. Thumb not better.


9 Friday - Lads still away. Officer visited us.


10 Saturday - Dartboards now forbidden. Cigarettes stopped for 8 days. Can openers confiscated. Drew tin of M and V.


11 Sunday - Inspection of rooms. Walks stopped. Wrote to mother no.56 letter. (Received 6-8-44). Wrote to Alice no.53 card. Search. Lads still away. 10 cigarettes per man issued.


12 Monday - Received mother's dated 4-4-44. Day shift. Another 10 cigarettes given out. Last week's night shift ducks this as a punishment. New English Medical Orderly came.


13 Tuesday - Drew tin of salmon. Issued with remainder of cigarettes and all PPs were given out.


14 Wednesday - Thundery. The 3 runaways have been recaptured. A Jerry at the other shaft was killed by a fall of roof.


15 Thursday - Got a Canadian parcel. A Jerry fell down the shaft last night from 10 ½ to 13. One arm was torn off. He's dead. Good show. The wash-house and lavatory has been out of bounds at night since the escape. It is now in bounds.


16 Friday - A Yugoslavian was discovered trying to sabotage the cage cable today. Thank the Lord they found out about it. Rooms cleaned out and distempered green. It stinks. PPs are coming in every day. 80 new chaps arrived.


17 Saturday - Heavy rain. Received mother's dated 30-3-44 and 9-4-44. Drew bully and sardines. Reports of Jerry new weapon shelling England. The new chaps are doing the afternoon shift today.


18 Sunday - Ordinary days work. Nothing much else.


19 Monday - Wrote to mother no.57 card. (Received 9-8-44). Wrote to Alice no.54 letter. Lowe and Deagan returned to camp. Brown has not come back.


20 Tuesday - Drew a tin of salmon. Two of the new blokes climbed the wire and escaped. They have all the necessary to get through. Got a pair of rubber boots off Düsterloh (Gandhi).


21 Wednesday - 2 years captured. Two air raid alarms. Two flights of planes went over. Received Alice's dated 10-4-44 and 11-4-44. Received mother's dated 12-4-44. A further alarm at 7 pm. 8 planes went over.


22 Thursday - Drew a Canadian parcel.


23 Friday - Forbidden to carry our satchels to work. They think we might carry out food to help an escape. Extra kilogram of bread per man today. It is due to flour which has not been used in the last few months. Bought a knife off my Jerry (Wagner). Lowe and Deagan went to clink for 8 days for escaping.


24 Saturday - Drew sardines and bully. The two lads have been picked up. They are NCOs in the RAF.


25 Sunday - 40 of the new chaps are working today. 8 are to come out of the mine and 8 old ones to go down. Went to the pictures. 'The Man who Knew Sherlock Holmes'. What a flop. Wrote to mother no.58 (card). (Received 27-5-44). Wrote to Alice no.55 (card). Wrote to Alice no.56 (card).


26 Monday - Day shift. Little new stuff.


27 Tuesday - Visited by the Gestapo. They searched our kits and took 30 Marks of my lager money, but they didn't find much else. Drew salmon.


28 Wednesday - Mail came in but mostly for the new chaps.


29 Thursday - Searched again at the bath house. A compass, map, chocolate, bread and English Pounds were found. One chap was taken away. My wheel type can-opener was taken. The bastards. Drew a Canadian parcel.


30 Friday - Little new stuff.


July 1944

1 Saturday - Drew salmon. Little else. Two more blokes went again today, 15 minutes ahead of the guards.


2 Sunday - Received Alice's dated 14th April 1944. Wrote to mother no.59 (letter). (Have reason to believe this was returned). Wrote to Alice no.57 (card). Wrote to mother no.60 (card). (Received 6-8-44). Wrote to Alice no. 58 (letter). Pretty quiet day. Duty room. Very warm.


3 Monday - Warm again. Night shift. 2,200 English parcels came in. We had to fetch them on a hand cart from the station. Each party made two trips. Read 'Nebuly Coat' by Falkner. Very good.


4 Tuesday - Hot day. Another fellow escaped today. Lots of trouble with Schievelbusch and the new lads. Drew bully.


5 Wednesday - Still hot but very heavy thunderstorm. Rained in through the hut roof.


6 Thursday - My Jerry hit my small finger with a hammer and I came up at 5 pm. Pretty sore. Drew Canadian parcel.


7 Friday - Air raid alarm in the morning. Went to Brand to see a French doctor. Gave me 3 days sick. ????? walked one way (6 kilometres) but rode back.


8 Saturday - Drew bully and sardines. Bought chocolate. Quiet day.


9 Sunday-  Received Alice's dated 19 and 20 April '44. Received mother's dated 19-4-44. Wrote to mother no.61 (card). (Received 18-8-44). Pretty quiet again. Wrote to Alice no.59 (card). (Received 22-8-44).


10 Monday - Still off work. Made a duff with prunes, biscuits and bread.


11 Tuesday - Went back to work again. Drew my last tin of salmon. Heavy air raid last night on Leipzig. We are getting more optimistic each day. Obersteiger asked me about becoming interpreter. I refused. Ernie Ross who went to hospital when I was sick with my foot came back today.


12 Wednesday - Little new stuff.


13 Thursday - Drew Canadian parcel again, all packets and meat roll. Reports of Dr. Ley being missing. Rainy day. A bit of mail in but I was unlucky.


14 Friday - Much the same as usual. New Corporal arrived. Old one has left.


15 Saturday - Drew sardines. Bought tin of bully.


16 Sunday - 2,300 Canadian parcels arrived. Bottle of beer issued. Wrote to mother no. 62 (card). Wrote to Alice no. 60 (card).


17 Monday - Night shift. Wet day.


18 Tuesday - Received Alice's dated 28-4-44. Received mother's dated 25-4-44 and 28-4-44.


19 Wednesday - Received mother's dated 4-5-44.


20 Thursday - Reported sick with my little finger again. Got the day off but the RSM is very sore about it. Hitler assassinated. Smolka (Elf) reported dead. Very heavy air raid, over 400 planes went over. Drew English parcel.


21 Friday - Go to work again today. Another daylight air raid. Raid again at night as well. Hitler reported to be only slightly injured. (Turned out later to be untouched).


22 Saturday - Drew salmon. Bought bully. Heavy rain again. Roof still leaking. Buckshee kilogram of bread issued in lieu of flour over the last 9 months.


23 Sunday - Work today as usual. Went down at 2.45 came up at 11.30.


24 Monday - 12 of the new chaps have dug a tunnel under the dining room and escaped during the night. Went down at 6 am. On my chinstrap.


25 Tuesday - Drew sardines and meat roll. Moved to new billet. Brick building this time. No view at all from the window.


26 Wednesday - Most of the men who escaped have been recaptured again. One is reported to have been killed. (Later told he was wounded in the leg).


27 Thursday - Drew Canadian parcel. Received Alice's dated 15-5-44 and advice note from R.C. Educational 'Engineering Science' section.


28 Friday - Little new stuff.


29 Saturday - Drew salmon and sardines. 45 tabs issued, my turn for ½ tin of tobacco. Heard British news. Battle in France has started. 70 miles from Warsaw. 400,000 tons of bombs on Germany in 6 months.


30 Sunday - Working again unloading wagons at station. Wrote to mother no.63 (card). (Received 28-9-44). Wrote to Alice no.61 (card). (Received 25-4-44).


31 Monday - Received mother's dated 30th May. Nightshift. Washhouse fatigue. Read 'Autobiography of a Cad'. Night shift.


August 1944

1 Tuesday - Quiet day. Reports of big attacks on France.


2 Wednesday - Heavy rain all morning. Smoking pretty heavily. Only 3 more weeks of parcels in stock. Broke my specs at work (some hopes).


3 Thursday - Got a new lens in my glasses. Went to work again in the afternoon. Got an English parcel. Received Alice's dated 1-5-44. Received mother's dated6-5-44.


4 Friday - Pains in my back and legs.


5 Saturday - Drew bully. Bought a tin of bacon. Not much new stuff.


6 Sunday - Wrote to mother no.64 (card). (Received 28-9-44). Wrote to Alice no.62 (letter). (Received 25-9-44). Warm day.


8 Tuesday - Peter Prebble went to Hartmannsdorf concerning Red Cross supplies. Asked Gandi if I could go to another Jerry. Wagner browns me off. He chewed my balls off for about half an hour. Drew tin of salmon.


9 Wednesday - Had a run in with the Director, Gandi and Wagner. What a life! Peter came back, we may expect some more parcels, at least five weeks issue.


10 Thursday - Drew an English parcel. Changed work. Now with a driller named Miskalski.


11 Friday - Bulk parcels on the way. Received Alice's dated 27-5-44.


12 Saturday - Bulk cases came in. The cable on the cage over at the other mine snapped today. The brakes pulled it up. Nobody was hurt.


13 Sunday - Wrote to paymaster. Sending another £40. Wrote to mother no.65 (letter). (Received 22-9-44). Wrote to Alice no.63 (card). Very quiet weekend. Dance in the evening. A walk in the afternoon but I went to bed.


14 Monday - Little new stuff. Night shift.


15 Tuesday - Another chap attempted escape but didn't get far. Drew salmon and Canadian biscuits. Bought M and V.


16 Wednesday - Air raid lasting over an hour. Over 500 planes went over. Saw one crash. Talk of having invaded by Toulon-Nice. (S bend loop 3 or 4 chutes, explosion and crash. Woman and 3 children killed).


17 Thursday - Drew a Scottish parcel. Trouble over the Jews again.


18 Friday - Received Alice's dated 14th June and 20th July 1944. Received mother's dated 5th June and 19th July.


19 Saturday - Reported sick with my eyes. Got two days sick. Went to Brand. Doing well in France.


20 Sunday - Received mother's dated 13th June and 16th July 1944. Everybody is working again today. I am still sick. Go to work tomorrow. The Jews are leaving us. Wrote to mother no.66 (card). Wrote to Alice no.64 (card). Wrote to mother no.67 (card).


21 Monday - Jews left us. Thank God. Bulk bully issued from next week's parcel. Also tea. No Jerry sugar issued. Paid 7 Marks. 20 went to credit.


22 Tuesday - Bulk cheese, sugar, and butter issued. Got a pair of new arbeit pants. Very hot and muggy these days. Still no sugar.


23 Wednesday - Bulk egg flakes issued. Still no Jerry sugar. Received mother's dated 23 May 1944.


24 Thursday - Large numbers of planes over again today. Several bombs dropped quite close to here. Still no Jerry sugar. Visited by a Jerry Officer and MO. At present only Peter Prebble and Johnny Turner are in charge of the camp. The Director however is to appoint another helper. Drew the rest of the bulk parcel. Pea powder, biscuits, jam, M and V, prunes, chocolate and meat biscuits. Rumania jacked in.


25 Friday - Another British air leaflet dropped yesterday. Soap powder, soap and toothpaste issued. Started to translate leaflet.


26 Saturday - Little new stuff in camp.


27 Sunday - Read leaflet round the camp. Concert at night. 38 blokes went out working for the day.


28 Monday - On washhouse fatigue. Wrote to Alice no.65 (card). Wrote to mother no.68 (card). Night shift. Tea and sugar out of next Thursday's bulk parcel issued.


29 Tuesday - Doug Worswick reported sick with his nose. Got 10 days on top. Cheese from next Thursday's parcel issued. Too strong to eat.


30 Wednesday - Rainy, a bit chilly. Read 'Tenderfoot Bill'. A bit bloody.


31 Thursday - Received Alice's dated 3-6-44 June and 12-5-44 (with photo). Received mother's dated 16-5-44. Drew bulk parcel.


September 1944

1 Friday - On digging fatigue. Read 'Captain Blood'.


2 Saturday - Drew tin of M and V. Bought another also tin of bacon. Little new stuff. In event of air raid now, the Jerries go down the mine. We come into the camp. Fred Crabtree fell off a lorry. Concussion.


3 Sunday - Wrote to Alice no.66 (letter). Wrote to mother no.69 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.67 (letter). Dance in the evening, had our photos taken. Some chaps had to go out working.


4 Monday - Received Cissie's dated 9-5-44. Received mother's dated 19-6-44. Wrote a postcard to Cissie. Cheese, tea and sugar from next Thursday's parcel issued.


5 Tuesday - Drew tin of M and V. Reports of fighting on German soil.


6 Wednesday - Corned mutton issued. Put a collar on a shirt. Hitler said to be off. Peace proposals. (All bullshit).


7 Thursday - Drew a bulk parcel. 1 M and V and 2 packets of biscuits. Fighting in Germany. Russians started big push. 6 Yugoslavian's refused to go in the army. Bread and cigarettes taken away and to work 17 hours a day. (Later altered to normal shift). Factory out of action.


8 Friday - Working at Turmhof shaft. Cleaning up.


9 Saturday - Drew tin of M and V. Nothing else of note. No cigarettes.


10 Sunday - Ordinary days work. Night shift went to the pictures. We are lucky we don't go. Wrote to mother no.70 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.68 (letter). Wrote to office (card). Fire-alarm during the night.


11 Monday - Night shift. Air raid lasting 1½ hours. Over 200 planes went over. Received letter from Mr Cheetham dated 5-7-44. Received Alice's dated 2-7-44, 26-7-44 and 23-7-44. Received mother's dated 28-6-44, 12-5-44 and 30-7-44. Fire-alarm during the night.


12 Tuesday - Air raid again lasting 2 hours. Bombs dropped at Dresden. About 200 planes. Alarm during the night. Read 'Rodney Stone' by Conan Doyle. No tins.


13 Wednesday - Fire alarm during the day. Nothing much otherwise.


14 Thursday - Drew an English parcel, the last in the store.


15 Friday - Nothing much to report. Guns flashing on the top again.


16 Saturday - Paid 8 Marks. Don't know how much went to credit. Drew M and V. No cigarettes. Received mother's dated 25-7-44. Had a job in the shaft at Turmhof, riding on top of the cage.


17 Sunday - 80 chaps had to go out working to make up for the time lost by fellows being sick. My hut! Wrote to mother no.71 (card). Wrote to Alice no.69 (letter). (This letter was stopped 28-9-44). Wrote to Cheetham (card). Concert again in the dining room.


18 Monday - Visited by control officer. If any more complaints come in he may do something about them. Perhaps. This is the 1001st time he has said this. Buckshee issue of biscuits, bully and pork galantine. Received mother's dated 11-6-44, 2-7-44, 2-7-44 and 6-8-44. Received Alice's dated 5-6-44 and 7-8-44.


19 Tuesday - Nothing fresh. Air raid alarm during the night. Drew tin of salmon. This cleans me out except for butter. Some Red Cross clothing came in. Still at Turmhof shaft. Helping the Schlosser. No German sugar issue.


20 Wednesday - Buckshee issue of the remains of the bulk cheese.


21 Thursday - Clothing issue. I got underpants, pair of slippers and a pair of socks which I gave away to Doug Worswick. Buckshee issue of bread 700 grams. Very old, very hard. Got a new pair of rubber boots. No parcel issue. None in.


22 Friday - Nothing much to report. Rumours of Jerry cigarettes and Red Cross parcels on the way.


23 Saturday - No cigarettes. BD slacks issued. I got a pair. Air raid lasting half an hour. Buckshee bread issued. 700 grams.


24 Sunday - BD blouses issued. I got one. Wrote to mother no.72 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.70 (letter). Bought 6 letters and 4 cards off Les Lowe. I owe him the fags. 40 blokes on buckshee work again.


25 Monday - Night shift. Raining hard. Serlish tobacco issue for one month. Buckshee bread issued again. 700 grams.


26 Tuesday - Still raining heavily. Very cold. A stove came into all the rooms in the new block and the pipes came on in the old rooms. Drew a tin of butter and peas which I didn't know I had. 1 issue of parcels came in with 75 cigarettes each.


27 Wednesday - Fixed up the stove ready for lighting.


28 Thursday - Reported sick at Brand with back and throat. Got a few days sick. Drew a Canadian parcel to last a fortnight. Dragged up before control officer for writing (17-9-44) about guns always being on the scene. No complaint accepted. Received Alice's dated 24-6-44. Air raid alarm lasted 45 minutes.


29 Friday - Little new stuff. A chap named Harrison, socked a Jerry and when the guard tried to hit him with a rifle he knocked the rifle aside. The guard gave up and cycled back to Prasse, leaving the Englishman alone. He goes to clink for 6 days.


30 Saturday - Go to work today. Drew bully and salmon. 50 cigarettes issued.


October 1944

1 Sunday - Wrote to mother no.73 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.71 (letter). On parade for 90 minutes getting red triangles put on all new kit. 40 more chaps on buckshee work. Concert at night. Clocks put back an hour.


2 Monday - Received mother's dated 10-9-44. Received Alice's dated 11-9-44. Wrote to mother no.74 (card). Night shift again, changed shifts.


3 Tuesday - Drew tin of sardines and tin of celery cuts. Worked on top pushing wagons. Reading 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith.


4 Wednesday - On washhouse fatigue.


5 Thursday - No parcels today. Bought a bar of chocolate and a tin of salmon. Lettercards and postcards issued. My Jerry sugar and jam. Bought some apples for 3 fags.


6 Friday - Air raid lasting a few minutes, saw no planes. Bought a kilogram of bread for 25 grams Serlish tobacco.


7 Saturday - Les Lowe got two days sick. Air raid lasting 90 minutes. Some bombs (18 or 20) dropped in Freiberg. Hit a Rumanian lager. No Rumys turned into work. All the Yugoslavians taken for clearing up the shit. We did nothing all night. Hit the Rote Grube. 23 fags issued. My turn for tobacco.


8 Sunday - Work day. All the blokes from the brickyard and the 40 electricians have to clear up the shit again. Wrote to Alice no.72 (letter) (dated 9-10-44). (Received 1-12-44). Wrote to mother no.75 (letter). (Received 2-12-44). Gandi hit Doug Worswick.


9 Monday - Received mother's dated 4-9-44. 3 parcels (fags came for me). Day off with a little lump in my throat. Bought 7 ozs block of chocolate for 25 cigarettes. Brickyard chaps still clearing up in Freiberg. Bought biscuits, 25 fags.


10 Tuesday - Went back to work. Got my fag parcels. 400 cigarettes and ½ pound of tobacco. Working with Lubchina up the Kirschbaum abbau. Roof very dangerous. Bill Bounds off sick today as well as yesterday. G room is the worst in the camp for sickness. Hooray.


11 Wednesday - 75 victims of the air raid buried today.


12 Thursday - Air raid alarm at 4 am. Everybody had to go to the trench. No bombs dropped. 59 bombs dropped in area last Saturday. 2000 casualties light and heavy. Drew Canadian parcel. Bill Bounds went to Brand. Got to have glasses. Bought tin of Caubell for 20 fags.


13 Friday - Pautschnik chopped off the end of his finger. Very dangerous roof at Kirschbaum. Some of our lads have been down at Freiberg clearing up all the week. Bought coffee for 20 cigarettes.


14 Saturday - Drew bully and sardines. Day shift, 5 am until 12 noon. Night shift 5 pm until 12 midnight. Due to funeral of air raid victims. Speck ration for 6 men instead of margarine.


15 Sunday - Wrote to Alice no.73 (letter). Wrote to mother no.76 (letter). Wrote to vicar (card). 120 men had to work today. The director says he lost 370 men's work through slackness in Freiberg so these men have to make it up. Yet a few days ago he praised the men's work in digging out victims to the control officer. Work that out. Speck ration again for 6 men only.


16 Monday - Day shift. Air raid alarm lasting 90 minutes but no bombs dropped. Hungary packed in.


17 Tuesday - Received Alice's dated 13-8-44, 20-8-44, 27-8-44 (2) and 17-9-44. Drew salmon.


18 Wednesday - Bought ½ lb of chocolate for 35 cigarettes. Buckshee half kilogram of bread issued in lieu of flour.


19 Thursday - No parcel today. Received Alice's dated 12-7-44. Another buckshee half kilogram of bread.


20 Friday - Air raid alarm 12 - 12.30. Nothing dropped. The POW money that we handed in a week ago has been changed into proper money. I gave in 12 Marks. Paid 7 Marks. I don't know how much went to credit. Meat issue instead of margarine. Only enough for six chaps, a cocoa tin each.


21 Saturday - A Yugoslavian named Cosanshesh was killed up Kirschbaum where I worked last night at 9 pm. A piece came off the wall. Meat again instead of margarine. Bought ½ pound of chocolate for 30 fags. 40 chaps to leave tomorrow for Dresden, including Les Lowe, Nottingham; Dick Bone, St. Helens; Ginger (Harold) Cox, Portsmouth; Topper (George) Brown, London; Bob Jowett (Bradford); Flash Walker (Burslem). Real name (chimp)?????


22 Sunday - Margarine today. Ordinary workday. Walt Smith (Stockport) taken off the brickyard job and sent down the mine.


23 Monday - Raining heavily. Night shift. Received Alice's dated 3-7-44. Received mother's 28-9-44. Wrote to Alice no.74 (card). Wrote to mother no.77 (card). (Received 2-12-44). Bill Bounds got a months top work starting tomorrow. Air raid alarm 12.45 pm to 1.30 pm.


24 Tuesday - On digging fatigue. Drew last tin of butter. My locker is now quite empty. 3 blokes came back from work today injured. 2 with fingers, 1 with foot. Issue of pig fat instead of margarine.


25 Wednesday - Cigarette parcel came in for me, 200 Players. Pig fat again.


26 Thursday - Got my fag parcel and another came in today. Drew a Canadian parcel. Only Steve Crompton and myself on afternoons this week. Very quiet. Got my second cigarette parcel as well today. This makes 5 all told. Pig fat again instead of margarine. This fat has to be taken by rota. It comes round every 5 issues, about a cocoa tin each.


27 Friday - Pig fat again. Little else to report.


28 Saturday - Margarine today but only 25 grams (instead of 50) for miners. Top worker's is the same as before at 25 grams. Paddy Ryan got 3 days sick. Sanderson got stone in his leg. Drew bully.


29 Sunday - Free Sunday for once. Bought meat roll 25 cigarettes. Wrote to Alice no.75 (card). (Received 20-12-45). Wrote to mother no.78 (card). Concert given by the lads again. 120 men went out working 6.30 - 4.


30 Monday - Air raid alarm at night. Little new stuff. A little mail came in but none for me.


31 Tuesday - Air raid alarm again. Prasse gave us a lot of threats again at roll call. He never does anything else. White coat beat up a Russian today, more revolver play. Raining heavily. Drew salmon and sardine. Got some guitar strings for Len Bonnard.


November 1944

1 Wednesday - 90 cigarette parcels came in but I was unlucky. Raining again all day. Air raid warning again in the evening.


2 Thursday - More parcels but unlucky again. Air raid at 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm. Possible to hear bombs dropping. Jerry sugar issue.


3 Friday - Received mother's dated 9-7-44. My turn for Jerry jam and margarine. Raining again. Air raid alarm in the evening.


4 Saturday - Alarm lasting 2 am - 5 am. Bought kilogram of bread for 15 cigarettes. Alarm again in the evening.


5 Sunday - Ordinary working day. Little new stuff.


6 Monday - Director is said to be leaving. Wrote to mother no.79 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.76 (card). My turn for Jerry margarine.


7 Tuesday - All the stoves have been taken out of the new rooms. We are burning too much wood and they won't give us coke. We only had the fire on for two hours a day. So what have you? We have no form of heating at all now, the old rooms have pipes. Very heavy rain. Top workers finished at 12 noon.


8 Wednesday - Slight snow, very cold wind. No parcels in store. The Jerries won't let us have the lorry to fetch more. My turn for Jerry sugar. Reports of V2. Received mother's dated 6-10-44.


9 Thursday - Snowing heavily but slightly warmer. Rooms are deadly cold. No parcels issued. No promise of any.


10 Friday - Prebble went to Hartmannsdorf and bought back one week's parcels. Air raid warning, bombs dropped close by at 8 pm.


11 Saturday - Drew a Canadian parcel. 50 cigarettes issued. Another air raid warning in the evening. The snow which started yesterday carried on today. Four men did early shift this morning 6 am - 1 pm and they have to go in again tonight10 pm - 6 am due to fellows leaving tomorrow. 2 shifts in one day. Top workers did overtime for Tuesday.


12 Sunday - Frost during the night but fine today. 26 lads left out of our room. Jim Saward, Roy Pearson, George Freeman, Jack Richardson. Wrote to mother no.80 (card). Wrote to Alice no.77 (letter). 44 men went out working.


13 Monday - Air raid alarm at midday. Day shift. Received mother's dated 22-9-44. Our margarine ration went back to 50 grams a day. Thank God!


14 Tuesday - Drew bully. Visited by chief man of confidence from Hartmannsdorf. He told us absolutely nothing.


15 Wednesday - Received a fag parcel of 200 Players. Bought ½ kilogram of bread for 8 fags.


16 Thursday - Bill Bounds had his bread cut for 14 days for speaking English to a Yugoslavian. No margarine today. Pig meat instead, enough only for 6 men out of 18. Received mother's dated 8-10-44. Received Alice's dated 25-9-44 and 8-10-44. Peter Prebble went to hospital with diphtheria.


17 Friday - Gave my first lesson in German. 48 men there.


18 Saturday - Received PP sent 7-7-43 to Camp 85 Italy. Drew salmon. Whist Drive.


19 Sunday - Ordinary day's work.


20 Monday - South Africans left camp today. 6 men came to take their places. One was Conway who was sent away from here last year for stealing. Wrote to mother no.81 (card). Wrote to Alice no.78 (card). Fire alarm went at 2 pm. All clear soon after. My Jerry sugar issue.


21 Tuesday - Air raid alarm 11.30 am to 12 noon. Paid 10 Marks for October. Fire alarms going all through the night.


22 Wednesday - My 23rd birthday. 1900 Canadian parcels arrived by railway truck. Worked all morning unloading them. Prasse is leaving us, thank God! Very nice day for November.


23 Thursday - Issued with a Canadian parcel. Prasse's not gone yet.


24 Friday - Swopped butter for Klim. Little news. 150 fag parcels in hut, none for me. Prasse has not left us.


25 Saturday - Two fag parcels (200 each) arrived for me. Drew sardines and bully. Air raid. Planes directly overhead (daylight).


26 Sunday - Worked on top for 4 hours filling in a trench. 40 man concert given by the lads. Drew my two fag parcels. Wrote to mother no.82 (card). Wrote to Alice no.79 (card). Wrote to mother no.83 (card).


27 Monday - Received Bert Ryder's dated 21-10-44. Received Alice's dated 14-10-44 and 16-10-44. Received mother's dated 12-10-44, 12-10-44, 18-10-44, 18-10-44 and 22-10-44. Wrote to Bert Ryder (card). Day shift. Took the 2nd German lesson.


28 Tuesday - Little new stuff. One chap named Wordley escaped.


29 Wednesday - Ordinary shift but have to go down again 10 pm - 6 am in order to have no work tomorrow. The electricity plant has to shut down. It is the same all over the area. My pig fat issue. No margarine.


30 Thursday - Came up at 6 am. Today's night shift goes down at 9.15 pm. Slept until 1 pm. Air raid 1 pm - 2 pm. Dance. Wordley caught 40 kilometers away.


December 1944

1 Friday - Fire alarm during last night. Came up at 6 am and go down at 2.45 pm until 11.30 pm. Gave 3rd German lesson.


2 Saturday - Had cigarette box, 20 French fags and five English pinched down the Grube today. Suspect Schreiter, the Schlosser. Got the stoves back again. Bought tin of meat roll for 30 fags. Issued 25 tabs.


3 Sunday - Ordinary working day. Mild weather. 'One Man's West' by David Lavender.


4 Monday - Night shift. Read 'Captain Paul' by Edward Ellsberg. Wrote to Alice no.80 (card). Wrote to mother no.84 (card).


5 Tuesday - Received Alice's dated 6-11-44. Received mother's dated 2-11-44.


6 Wednesday - Night and day shift times have now been altered to :- 7 am - 3.45 pm, 3.45 pm - 00.30 am. Each time 1 hour later than previously. Air raid alarms all day.


7 Thursday - Working day shift today in Freiberg clearing some bomb damage. 2 months old. Didn't do much working from 7 am to 3.45 pm. Drew Canadian parcel. Altered the positions of the beds in our room. We now have more room to move about.


8 Friday - Washed shirt and pullover. Received ½ pound of tobacco and a book parcel of 10 Penguins posted to Camp 85 in Italy.


9 Saturday - Finished work at 12.30 am, in bed by 2 am but still had to get up at 8.30 am for no reason whatsoever. Received mother's dated 3-10-44 and 30-10-44. Drew bully. Air raid from 1 pm - 1.30 pm, bombs dropped close. 18 planes went over.


10 Sunday - Quiet day in camp. First one since Sunday 12th November. Wrote to mother no.85 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.81 (card). Dance at night.


11 Monday - Day shift. Air raid alarm from 12.30 - 1.30.


12 Tuesday - Drew salmon. Bought meat roll for 30 tabs. 2 air raids this morning. Large number of bombs dropped. Rumble continuous for over half an hour.


13 Wednesday - Two air raids again. Working double shift again 7 am - 3.45 pm and then again from 10 pm - 6 am on Thursday. Night shift do from 3.45 pm to 12.30 am and then tomorrow on top 7 am - 3.45 pm.


14 Thursday - Bought meat roll 25 tabs. Finished work six o'clock, slept until 3 pm. Read 'Woe for my Comrades' by John Brown.


15 Friday - Frosty day but otherwise very nice. Received mother's dated 8-7-44.


16 Saturday - Frosty but fine. 2 air raids lasting over two and a half hours.


17 Sunday - Ordinary working day.


18 Monday - Midday shift. Received mother's dated 8-11-44. Wrote to mother no.86 (card). Wrote to Alice no.82 (letter). 3 air raid alarms.


19 Tuesday - 2 air raids alarms. Nothing new. Making a 'cheese cutter'. A Jerry guard died very suddenly.


20 Wednesday - 2 air raid alarms. Nice day. Day shift, go down again at 10 pm to 6 am. We are on top tomorrow. Prebble came back from hospital.


21 Thursday - 3 air raid alarms. Working in Freiberg. Early shift 7 am - 3.45 pm. Drew a Canadian parcel. A fellow named Prigmore was hit on the head by a 10 ft long plank which fell from the top floor of the factory, over 50 ft. Dangerous head wound. Ambulance fetched him away.


22 Friday - Very frosty but fine. Some beer came in for us yesterday and I helped to take the carts back. Finished my hat. Air raid alarm.


23 Saturday - Air raid alarm . Prebble has left us.


24 Sunday - No work today. Buckshee quarter of a parcel per man.


25 Monday - Lucky draw. Wrote to mother no.87 (card). Wrote to Alice no.83 (card). Concert in the evening.


26 Tuesday - Horse racing in the afternoon. My horse Buffalo won, 50 cigarettes for 5. Fancy dress dance in the evening.


27 Wednesday - Arbeit again 7 am - 3.45 pm early shift. We go down again at 10 pm to 6 am. No electricity tomorrow.


28 Thursday - Came up at 6 am. Today's midday shift goes down 10 pm - 7 am. 1000 English parcels arrived at the station. Made a two hour trip to fetch them. Air raid alarm 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm. Drew salmon and sardines.


29 Friday - Very cold weather. Slight snow. Air raid alarm.


30 Saturday - Drew a Canadian parcel today instead of next Thursday so as to have a little extra for New Year.


31 Sunday - No work. Dance at night. Fancy dress affair. Over 50 costumes were there. Learned the Palais Glide and the waltz. Up until 2 o'clock.


January 1945

1 Monday - No work. Heavy snow! Played cards all day. Air raid at night. All pipes frozen. No water. Washed in snow.


2 Tuesday - Day shift again. Slightly warmer, pipes thawed out. Air raid alarm in the morning.


3 Wednesday - Went down at 7 am, came up at 3.45 pm. Down again at 10 pm to come up at 6 am.


4 Thursday - Came up at 6 am. Slept until 4 pm. Air raid alarm in the morning. Bought a tin of bully for 20 fags.


5 Friday - Nothing new.


6 Saturday - Bought another tin of bully. Drew salmon and sardines.


7 Sunday - Ordinary working day. Fine day. Fire alarm in the morning and again at night.


8 Monday - Day shift. Wrote to mother no.88 (card). Wrote to Alice no.84 (card).


9 Tuesday - No air raid alarms this week. Rumours of a Jerry push.


10 Wednesday - Played pontoon, lost 30 Marks. Wrote article for magazine on book 'Woe for my Comrade' by John Brown. One chap named Cyril Mercer got 3 days for flogging kit.


11 Thursday - Came up at 6 am. Slept until 3 pm. Played pontoon, broke even. 12 Friday No air raids this week. Jerry push supposed to be stopped.


13 Saturday - Warm day but snow still lies on the ground. Took part in a whist drive. Winners had 149 points. Bill Bounds and I had 130. 20 fags issued to last a fortnight.


14 Sunday - 12 chaps went out working. Some new blokes came here from the flax factory as a punishment for getting too fresh with the women. Dance in the evening. 2 air raids tonight. Saw bomb flashes.


15 Monday - 15 cigarette parcels came in and a few book parcels. Wrote to mother no.89 (card). Wrote to Alice no.85 (card). 2 air raid alarms this morning. The Jerries had a search for tools. We cannot get new razor blades but we can send old ones in to get re-sharpened. Day shift.


16 Tuesday - Air raid from 11.45 am - 1.15 pm. Bombs dropped about 20 kilometres away. We collected some Marks a fortnight ago for the hospital. They have all been returned.


17 Wednesday - No air raid alarm. Double shift today. Down again at 10 pm.


18 Thursday - Came up at 6 am. No air raid alarm. Drew an English parcel.


19 Friday - A few PPs came in but none for me. Usual day shift.


20 Saturday - Had another whist drive. Winner had 152 points. We had 123 points.


21 Sunday - Usual days work. Nothing extraordinary.


22 Monday - Day shift. Under Officer Schmidt is leaving for Russia tomorrow. Gerlish tobacco came up, 50 grammes per man and a packet of fag papers. Tommy Bell, Tom Grady and 4 more had their bread cut for a fortnight. Rumours of big push from west and east. Wrote to mother no.90 (card).


23 Tuesday - Bought bar of chocolate and M and V.


24 Wednesday - Double shift again toady.


25 Thursday - Came up at 6 am. Air raid alarm at 1.15 pm. Went to bed at 1 am Friday.


26 Friday - Went into the office as interpreter. Johnnie Turner has gone to Hartmannsdorf with Prebble. Permanent job for me. Bed at 11 pm.


27 Saturday - Yesterday passed off OK. 20 tabs issued. French doctor.


28 Sunday - The whole camp had an inoculation for typhus. Busy day. Had a game of cards in the evening.


29 Monday - Little new stuff apart from office work. Wrote to mother no.91 (card). Wrote to Alice no.86 (card).


30 Tuesday - Went to Freiberg to fetch soap powder. Opened all parcels and took out waste paper to make things easier tomorrow. We are getting another inoculation on Thursday. So we are giving out parcels tomorrow.


31 Wednesday - Issue of English parcel.


February 1945

1 Thursday - Quiet day today because the doctor didn't come. Night shift go on at 10.15 pm to 7 am.


2 Friday - Another fairly quiet day.


3 Saturday - No baths today because the water is cold. No coke. Several bread cuts this week due to wood pinching. We in the office are both on 250 grams.


4 Sunday - Harry Crossley's birthday. Stabsfeldwebels inspection. 2nd inoculation. Wrote to Alice no.87 (letter). Wrote to mother no.91 (letter). Went up with the sick.


5 Monday - Thorough search lasting from 6 pm - 9 pm for a revolver reported to be in the possession of one of our men. Called out at 1.15 am (Tuesday) for Donovan caught bringing in bread.


6 Tuesday - Air raid alarm. Warm day but raining.


7 Wednesday - A few civvy parcels came in. A Stalag order came in forbidding bartering.


8 Thursday - Not enough potatoes to go round. Some men got bread in lieu. Went to Freiberg to buy cotton and wool. Very warm day.


9 Friday - Two confidence men came from two subsidiary kommandos for parcels and cigarettes. No double shift yesterday for day shift. Night shift however went down at 10.15 pm.


10 Saturday - Air raid alarm but saw no planes. Whist drive in the evening.


11 Sunday - 50 odd men out working. Inspection at 11 am. 3rd inoculation at 4.30 pm. Concert in the evening 6 pm - 8 pm.


12 Monday - Snowy weather. Went up to German Sanitater to fetch Peter Ranshaw who had cut his hand badly in the mine. Went up with six men to see German doctor. Wrote to Alice no.88 (letter). Wrote to mother no.92 (letter).


13 Tuesday - Captain Hüntel visited camp and said we in the office should be on 400 grams not 250 grams. Schievelbusch said 250 grams and so we stop on that. Air raid from 9.50 pm - 10.50 pm and again 1.30 am - 2.30 am during the night of Tuesday/ Wednesday. Planes very low overhead.


14 Wednesday - Day miners came up early and night shift didn't go on because of failure of electricity supply. Further raid from 9.30 pm - 10.30 pm and again 1.30 am - 2.30 am. Planes again low. Bombed Dresden, Chemnitz, Leipzig etc. Also a daylight raid today lasting an hour.


15 Thursday - Everybody jittery about last night's raids. Further air raid today between 11.30 am and 1.45 pm. Goodall beaten up by chef for not being in air raid shelter during raid.


16 Friday - No raid during last night and no raid during the day. Fairly quiet day. The Stabsfeldwebel has the needle over the air raids.


17 Saturday - Went to Freiberg to get wood and cotton with the Feldwebel.


18 Sunday - Free day again for men, only 4 men working. Boot inspection, 6 men got 3 hours fatigues out of it.


19 Monday - Lots of Jerry miners sent to Dresden to sort out the mess. Went to German doctor with the sick parade. Wrote to Alice no.89. Wrote to mother no.92. Wrote to Donald Morris.


20 Tuesday - 2 air raid alarms last night. Our lads in the factory were not allowed to go into the air raid shelter.


21 Wednesday - Little new stuff.


22 Thursday - Air raid 12 noon to 1 pm. Mittag shift went down at 10.15 pm. Film show in dining hall. Film was 'Lauter Liebe'. We saw the same film in Freiberg last March. (Actually 7-4-44).


23 Friday - Film apparatus taken back to station. Glendenning in trouble caused by saying too much. Stabs warned him to be ready for a beating up. He got it, from Schievelbusch, Vollrath and Tansell. They waited until he was down the mine and then went after him armed with two revolvers and 1 shovel as well as hosepipe. Stabs refuses to take the matter further. The beating took place at 4 pm, 23 February 1945. Room Corporals meeting.


24 Saturday - Took E.Jones to Stabs regarding bread cut. Tin issue morning and evening. No coal today, because central heating came on.


25 Sunday - Ordinary working day. Central heating went out of action again.


26 Monday - Foreign tobacco came in. 60 grams per man. Issued 1 composite parcel per man. Went up with sick to see German doctor. Wrote to mother no.93. Wrote to Alice no.90. Both letters.


27 Tuesday - Cut in miners' ration of margarine from 50 grams to 30 grams. Top workers' remains. Air raid from 12.20 pm - 2.40 pm. Cyril Randall's now finished in the cobbler's shop, goes out now with Gursky's party.


28 Wednesday - Received Alice's letter dated either 15th October or 15th November 1944. Went down to the hospital with Doherty and Atkin. S. Gursky refused to allow his men to come into the camp at snappin time.


March 1945

1 Thursday - Nothing new.


2 Friday - Air raid 10.10 am - 10.40 am.


3 Saturday - Air raid 10.10 am - 12 noon. Issued tins morning and evening. 18 men's rations short (Jerry).


4 Sunday - All top workers went to work. Bread ration cut all round. Put in list of complaints to Stabs. No satisfaction. Dining hall floor caught fire during night. Inspection of billets by Feldwebel.


5 Monday - Air raid from 10 am - 12 noon and 9 pm - 10.50 pm. Everybody in shelter. Chemnitz lit up. New rations came into operation.

                Normal   Lang   Schwer   Schwerst

                 250        325     375         47

Margarine   20          20       20         40

Fire damage in dining hall repaired. Went up to German doctor with sick. No jam ration tonight.


6 Tuesday - Wrote to mother no.94. Wrote to Alice no.91. Letters. Shaw was beaten up by Chef. Cooking disallowed in dining hall.


7 Wednesday - Began issuing bread by rooms. Most of the rooms are pooling the bread. Two fire alarms. Air raid alarm 9.50 pm - 10.50 pm. No coal.


8 Thursday - Took Jones and Baxter to Stabs regarding not going into air raid shelter last night. Sorted out parcels and odd tins for last issue next Monday. Cyril Randall off work with neck. No coal issue.


9 Friday - More trouble caused by doubling up in the grub queue. Hut Corporals meeting. Coal issue came up again. No jam this week and today and no sugar, there was also no cheese last Wednesday.


10 Saturday - French padre came to the camp.


11 Sunday - All top workers working. Issued parcels a day earlier. 1 parcel between 5. Macaroni and rissole for dinner. Room inspection.


12 Monday - Marched to Brand, 6 kilometres, with Holt, Baxter, Dimsdale and Thorogood, to see company commander because of trouble last Wednesday night i.e. not going into shelter during air raid. Walked back as well. Fire alarm at night.


13 Tuesday - Wrote to Alice no.92 (card). Wrote to mother no.95 (card).


14 Wednesday - Received Alice's dated 1-12-44 and 1-12-44. 2 letters written same day. 'Camp' newspapers came in for February 18th.


15 Thursday - Spring day. Air raid alarm from 1.50 pm - 3 pm. Trouble with Schievelbusch regarding men going into the kitchen at night time also trouble with Shaw for malingering. Jones and Dimsdale went to klink.


16 Friday - Fay caught stealing potatoes from kitchen cellar. Bread cut 4 weeks. Lager searched. No wood to be bought into camp. Murphy's bread cut for being cheeky. Hut Corporals meeting regarding parcel situation.


17 Saturday - Received mother's dated 2-12-44 and 2-12-44 (2 letters) and Alice's dated 20-12-44. 8 men from mine put to work on top. Skilly very bad, complained but no satisfaction. 2 air raid alarms 11.30 pm - 1.15 pm and 1.45 pm - 2.15 pm. Bombs dropped over the valley.


18 Sunday - 44 top men worked. Inspection of barracks.


19 Monday - Visit of 4 men of confidence. 2 Yanks and 2 English and also of two men from the Protecting Power. Put forward all camp's complaints. Went up with sick and down to Freiberg. Had eyes tested for stronger glasses. Air raid bombs pretty close 12.30 pm - 2.40 pm. Hut Corporals meeting regarding Protecting Power's visit. 20 redirected civvy fag parcels came in, 9700 fags.


20 Tuesday - Wrote to Alice no.93 (letter). Wrote to mother no.96 (letter). Fay got bread cut for 4 weeks for stealing potatoes from kitchen. 20 new men expected. Collected blankets from men who have three. Glendenning, Bounds and Crossley visited optician in Freiberg. Went down to eye specialist with Price. Air raid alarm in morning, oil bombs dropped over the valley. Fire alarm again at 4 pm - 4.30 pm.


21 Wednesday - Air raid 3.45 am - 4.45 am, everybody in shelter. Guards had trouble with Hatch, Honnor, McGregor. They are to be reported to company office. Trouble with Director about Lodge striking foreman. Director promised us more skilly. Sellar and Wilkinson went on heaviest head ration. 9.30 am - 10.30 am, air alarm. 1 plane shot down by AA about 200 yards from us near Reiche Zeche shaft. All crew dead, 8 men. 1 Jerry fighter down. Told we are to receive as many men as possible. German tea instead of hot water at 4 pm. Higgings, Laycock, Fallows, Riley and Case in trouble for trading cigarettes for bread. J.Smith and Mulholland caught bringing in wood. They had to do a double shift. Otherwise a peaceful day. Harry Crossly got new frames for his glasses.


22 Thursday - Air raid alarm from 12 noon - 1.40 pm. Miners came up at 2 pm. Pep talk for the Jerries.


23 Friday - Air raid from 11.30 am - 1.40 pm. All in shelter. The medical orderly was halled over the coals by the Stabs. Received new pair of glasses.


24 Saturday - Hatch, McGregor and Honnor went to clink for three days for having trouble with guards during the night alarm of 21-3-45. Air raids today. 11.45 am - 12.20 pm and 12.45 pm - 1.15 pm. Also fire alarms in afternoon. No coal issue now from the cookhouse. Usual weekly search.


25 Sunday - Rissole and spuds. Everybody out working today. Very nice day. 2 fire alarms but nothing came of them. German civvies were queuing up to go into the shelter over an hour before the alarm went. Jones caught for stealing potatoes.


26 Monday - Same queue for the shelter as yesterday. 1 fire alarm in the morning and an alarm in the afternoon from 1.40 pm - 2.40 pm. Went with the sick to see the German doctor. Randall went back to the shoe shop.


27 Tuesday - Wrote to mother no.97 (letter). Wrote to Alice no.94 (letter). Received mother's dated 14-11-44. All men in camp (55) went up to the mine to bex-rayed (chest). 250 letters came in for the camp. Received 'Camp' newspapers for 25-2-45. Got the BBC news from the flax factory in the town. Some clothing and toilet requisites were fetched on a hand wagon from Brand. Saw Control officer. No margarine today. No air raid alarms today.


28 Wednesday - Went with Jones and Fay to Freiberg regarding stealing spuds. Went up with the rest of the men to be x-rayed. Factory stopped work. Director saw Silver eating a turnip and gave him a kilogram of bread !!! Issue of soap, razor blades and tooth paste.


29 Thursday - Lots of pilfering going on at the moment. Rest of clothing etc. fetched from Brand.


30 Friday - Went to see Director regarding bread. Got a lot of promises. Hut Corporals meeting. 4 days with no air raids. Issue of underpants.


31 Saturday - 50 men out working. Rote Grube shifts went out as usual. Otherwise it was a holiday.


April 1945

1 Sunday - Barrack inspection. More trouble about doubling up for dinner. Jam and sugar ration came up instead of tomorrow. Frau Wetchie won't be there. Bread ration reduced to 250 grams and margarine to 20 grams for 1 week. Jerry war effort. Wrote to mother no.98 (letter).


2 Monday - 49 men out working. 4 air raid alarms. Bombs dropped by fighter-bombers at Nossen. Believed 'front line' action. 4 men collapsed on parade.


3 Tuesday - 1 buckshee kilogram of bread per man in place of flour. Harry got permission to go to Hartmannsdorf tomorrow. Went to see German doctor with sick. 11 men from the Aufbereitung worked until 6 pm. Wrote to Alice no.95 (letter).


4 Wednesday - Harry Crossley went to Hartmannsdorf. The kommando from Freiberg came up for their clothing and razor blades etc. On my own today. Fire alarm in the morning and again in the afternoon. Hut Corporals meeting. Some PPs and cigarette parcels came in.


5 Thursday - 13 new men came in. 1 Sergeant and 1 Corporal. 6 air raid alarms of which two were overhead. No drinking water. Translated leaflet on the Yalta conference. Nearly all the Jerries went for medical.


6 Friday - Overhead went at 9.30 am. All clear at 10.40 am. Lots of planes over. All the 13 new men went out to work. Complained about Sergeant and Corporal being sent to work but as usual Stabs can't do anything.


7 Saturday - Harry again went to Hartmannsdorf to fetch half a parcel per man. Cigarettes issued 25 per man. 10 new men arrived. On my own all day. 1 razor blade and box of matches as well per man. 8 more new men arrived in the night.


8 Sunday - Short air raid alarm in the morning. Issued 18 new men with clogs and trousers. 63 men went out to work. ½ parcel issued per man.


9 Monday - Went with sick (20 men) to see German doctor. New bread lists came in. Curtailment of jam, sugar and cheese. Bread was pooled today. 390 grams per man owing to the lists being so late.


10 Tuesday - Sergeant Prentice and Corporal Hodgson left camp for Muhlberg. Stockley went to skin specialist and Grundy to ear specialist. Wrote to Alice no.96 (letter). Wrote to mother no.99 (letter). Air raid alarm 5.30 pm - 6.30 pm. McCord collapsed on way to work.


11 Wednesday - McCord and Dimmack went down to Freiberg hospital. Received 29 new mugs for the new chaps.


12 Thursday - Camp visited by Jerry officer, had no chance to talk to him. Paid all the men. Jam and sugar rations are cut. Sugar 30 kilograms for the month and jam 12½ grams per day per man.


13 Friday - Fay and Jones went to Brand regarding spud stealing of a few weeks back. Fay 8 days and Jones 5 days. Received 16 copies of the 'Camp'. Refused permission to go to Hartmannsdorf. Power off at the factory and mine. Aufbereitung afternoon shift came back. 8 air raid alarms. Collected 3 Marks a man for central fund. Went down to Freiberg at 9.30 pm to fetch bread. 50 loaves. Fire alarm from 11 pm - 11.50 pm.


14 Saturday - 1.30 am, warned by Stabsfeldwebel Funke that the complete lager has to move off at 7.30 am. 5 am woke the lads. Issued all the residue Red Cross kit. Issued with 300 grams bread, 40 grams margarine and 8 potatoes to last us 2 days. Left camp 8 am. Marched to Freiberg station. Entrained at 11 am in open trucks. I got in a closed truck with straw to sleep on with Tunnicliffe who had a bad foot and whom we had to carry to the station on a wagon. Reached Dresden 2 pm. Still here 7 pm. 6 fire alarms. Saw 1 German plane shot down by 2 of our fighters at 3.30 pm. It crashed on fire. Slept here. Fire alarm and overhead at 13.30 pm. Bombs dropped near by. Spent the night again in the wagons. No air raid alarms. No rations.


15 Sunday - Spent the night again in the wagons. No air raid alarm. No rations.


16 Monday - Fire alarm but nothing happened. Went to the hospital with Tunnicliffe. Left him there. Each man received 400 grams bread, 100 grams meat and 10 grams sugar. Moved off on foot at 6 pm. Reached Konigstein 13 kilometers away at 10 pm. We must have been walked in circles. Put into unfinished barrack rooms, sleeping on branches.


17 Tuesday - We have enough food now for 3 days. 400 grams bread, 100 grams meat, 10 grams sugar and 9 grams coffee. Left alone by Jerries. Bombing raid on Dresden. Saw 1 British bomber and 1 Jerry fighter shot down. Strafing raid on the main road later in the day by 12 Russian fighters. Quite nice weather during the day but rain and thunder at night.


18 Wednesday - Everybody shitting good due to yesterday's meat ration. Weather has cleared up. Bread ration has dropped to 350 grams. Air raid alarms all day but saw no planes.


19 Thursday - Harry Crossley went to see about parcels but no luck. They went to Pirna for rations but no luck again. Everybody was out today Konigstein flogging kit. Plenty of spuds about. Air raid alarm at 10.30 am. 150 bombers raided Pirna. Saw bombs leave the planes. Took approximately 50 seconds to hit the deck. Succeeded in getting rations later on.


20 Friday - Told to get ready for another march. Further rations to last us a week but we are unlucky regarding parcels. Moved off from Konigstein to Hellendorf, 18 kilometers on foot carrying all kit. Arrived 7 pm. 150 of us billeted on a farmer. Rest of the 600 spread around the valley. No air activity. Slept in a loft, on straw. Very warm but crowded.


21 Saturday - Pretty good rations, 400 grams bread, 400 grams spuds, vegetables, butter, coffee, sugar and meat. Rainy day but time passed quickly.


22 Monday - Pretty much the same as yesterday. Still raining.


23 Tuesday - Still raining. Rumours of a conference.


24 Wednesday - Absolutely no air activity. Rumours of 3 day armistice. Still raining.


25 Thursday - Fine day. Everything has taken on a different aspect. Rations are still 400 grams bread, 400 grams potatoes, 10 coffee, 9 sugar, peas and 15 grams butter.


26 Friday - Bread ration down to 270 grams, sugar up to 30 grams. Fine and warm.


27 Saturday - Funke left for Freiberg. There seems a possibility that we may go back.


28 Sunday - Funke came back from Freiberg. He is to leave us to go to the front. Jack Deegan and Les Lowe visited us from a camp 10 kilometers away. Brazier went away with Deegan.


29 Monday - Ginger Cox and Bob Jowett visited us from another camp. 4 men escaped. Rations are now 270 grams bread, 400 grams potatoes, coffee, sugar, barley and margarine. Cold weather.


30 Tuesday - New Feldwebel takes over. Exchanged pair of soles for some potatoes. Still cold and wet. The men are wandering about all over the valley. Heard that the war is finished.


May 1945

1 Tuesday - Cold again. Rumour has it that we are to be handed over at Chemnitz.


2 Wednesday - Thick snow was everywhere this morning. Very cold. Swopped a pair of leather soles for some spuds. Bread still 270 grams.


3 Thursday - Snow is clearing but still very cold, specially at night.


4 Friday - Escaped the guards and went for a walk. Got a bag of spuds for a bar of soap. Had them confiscated when we came back, but got them back again. Warm day. Told the lads the war has finished but they didn't believe me.


5 Saturday - Warm but changed to rain and cold. No fighting against us but fight against Russia carries on.


6 Sunday - Heavy rain all day. Browned off. Cold.


7 Monday - Warm and sunny. The Air Force had orders to move today. Received rations in the evening and we are told to be ready to move at 7 am.


8 Tuesday - Reveille 5.30 am. Moved out at 8.30 am with all my kit and Harry's and Cyril's on farmer Ludeurg's wagon. Lost touch with everybody due to constant air activity, mostly Russian planes. Left only in shirt sleeves and pants. Several bursts of machine gun fire came all too close. Some less than 5 yards. Made good time under constant strafing to Liebenau 20 kilometres and Launstein a further 4 kilometres. Met up with the kit again at 1.30 pm. Harry and Cyril came up at 3.30 pm, after going a different way. Streams of refugees. 4.30 pm made our way into the woods about 100 yards from the road. Still strafing. Met with 3 German soldiers who gave us bread. ('I want to go home' and 'I beg your pardon, Sir'). Translated these two phrases for the Jerries. Everybody shit scared of the Russians. Plenty of comradeship between Jerries and us. Misery written on everybody's faces. 6 pm. Told that Russian's have cut all the roads, we are to go back to Hellendorf. Went away until flap was over and then made our way to an old farm to sleep. Only potatoes to eat. War is supposed to finish at 12 pm.


9 Wednesday - War finished. Lauenstein. Russians coming in. Streams through the village. Went scrounging for kit and found a bicycle. Got some food off the Russians. Cyril and I had a good meal at a German's house. Schnapps. Moved off at 4 pm with one cycle, made it three before nightfall. Heading west. Went to a Frendi Layer to sleep. Bugs in millions. Glashutten. French cooked their dinner and then told us to cook ours. Hospitality.


10 Thursday - Left at 6 am. Glad to be rid of the bugs. Scrounged bicycle. Kit all the way, loads of kit, men, tanks and horses lying around. Passed through Freiberg at 5 pm. Very tired. Dose of the shits but all Germans are very kind. Russians all salute us. Have reason to believe that we are the first English through here today. At 5 pm we stopped at the house of Willy Marquardt on the Dresden road. Gave us a good supper of fried potato, cake and plums. Just about all they had. Went to sleep on a real bed with sheets. He is the only man with his wife, wife's sister, daughter-in-law and 3 children. Found some black tea early in the day.


11 Friday - Went into Freiberg for food. We got 3 loaves, 6 lbs bottled peas, 6 lbs bottled kidney beans, half a sack of potatoes, 50 cigars, cigarettes, bottled bacon and 2 new bicycles. All Germans have to hand in bicycles and cameras. The daughter-in-law gave me hers. The Yanks passed here at 10 am and back again at 4 pm. Not many Russians in town. Not much damage done apart from a little looting. Saw 4 chaps from the mine. Got 4 tins of milk off some English lads also 1½ lbs of sugar. Gave a lot of clothing to Willy. Shared out the food. Had several good brews of tea. We get salutes from all the Russians because we are pretty clean and they think we are officers. Saw one or two of the lads on the way. Aldridge, Dobbs, Ranshaw, Deluce, Jack Smith and 5 more with a 2-bullock cart. 4 horses lie right outside here on the road. Just worked to death. Plenty to eat today but constant stomach pains. Took one or two photographs. Elwin Jones was killed last Tuesday, I heard today.


12 Saturday - The Russians respect this house because we are here. No trouble at all. Didn't sleep a wink due to stomach pains. Got up at 5 am and had a bath. Got the bicycles ready. Took photo. Owing to trouble with Harry's rear wheel we didn't get underway until 12 noon. Very hot day. Passed through Chemnitz (ruins) at 5 pm. Passed frontier at Mittlebach. Billetted in a civvy house. Given a K supper ration. Slept with a big Nazi flag as a sheet. Had some tablets for my stomach pains. Eased them a little. Bill Heaton and Bill Pigmore were wounded last Tuesday and one or two more.


13 Sunday - Given K breakfast ration. Yanks are quite decent fellows. Treat us well. Pancake, syrup and coffee. Moved off at 1.30 pm by lorry on the Autobahn to Gera. Steady 65 mph all the way. Arrived Gera 3 pm. Registered, 2 further ration packets and billets all by 5 pm. Cleaned up and had another photo taken. Getting anxious now.


14 Monday - Left Gera 8.30 am by lorry to Erfurt via Stadtroda. Had a good meal at dinner time and again at 5 pm. Sleeping in evacuated Jerry barracks.


15 Tuesday - Left Erfurt barracks 8.30 am. Left flying field 10.45 am in Dakota freight planes. Arrived Brussels 1.30 pm. Left Brussels 4 pm. Arrived Blighty at 6.15 pm. Had a tea and went to a reception camp 30 miles south of London. Issued with towel, knife, fork and spoon. Had a supper.


16 Wednesday - Reveille at 7 am. Hung about all morning waiting for something to happen. Saw a Donald Duck film and a Pluto film. Stomach ache. Had one or two lectures regarding pay and interrogation. Paid £11, handed in a few Marks (68) for exchange. Questioned and fill up form. Made warrant against Schievelbusch and Vollrath. Bought some fags and chocolate at the Naafi (6 weeks ration).


17 Thursday - Up pretty early had a bad night with the old guts. Started to get kit 8.30 am. 11.30 am ready to move off. Didn't feel like eating much. Moved off 2.30 pm from Haywoods Heath. Lorries to Euston. Stood up to Stafford. Arrived at Stoke 8.05 pm. Got home 8.45 pm. Last diary entry.


18/06/45 - Medical examination at Stoke-on-Trent. General condition and state of nutrition good, weight (in trousers and shoes) 179½ lb, height 5 feet 10½ inches).


20/4/46 - 27/4/46 - Easter week Honeymoon. On rocks at Llandudno. July or August 46 Barnard Castle.


09/12/46 - Demobed Class A1.


The following notes were written 29 years later


20-6-42 - We didn't need the usual Bren magazine for Reveille today. Jerry was up before we were. We knew we were in the front line (as much as we ever had one out here) but a Bren gun at dawn usually got everybody up. The "stand-to" at dawn of World War 1 days was much to like a real war for us to pay any attention to, so we always turned out when a brew was ready. By "we" I mean about 7 or 8 of us with nothing much to do and nobody caring whether we did it or not.


We were in a "mobile war" which I thought meant armed men dashing about over the desert on wheels, but in reality it meant for us a .38 Smith and Wesson each and Shanks mare. "Chain of Command" meant the water bloke seeing us every day or two and giving us a drink out of the kindness of his heart, together with all the latest lies.


The place was Pilastrino which was a hell of a long way to the left of the pyramids and about 15 miles south of Tobruk proper. It was easy to get lost if you had a lorry, a British officer and a sun compass but we never did have these luxuries so we knew exactly where we were. About 15 mile south of the Mediterranean.


Tobruk had been in the news quite a lot in 1941 when half a dozen Aussies held it against the hordes of the Huns and Itis (Italians) but then it had barbed wire, trenches, a gun or two in case of emergencies and even a rifle for each man. By today the trenches had filled themselves in, the wire was an impregnable barrier in the region of Agheila and the Aussies had gone (or were going) home because the Japs had knocked hell out of Singapore. That left us and a Bofors gun with 10 rounds of ammunition sitting in the sand, waiting for somebody to give us an idea of what was going on. We weren't expecting anything like orders, that would be expecting too much but we did think we ought to have been acknowledged by somebody. Jerry was shelling the harbour or thereabouts and the Stukas (Junkers Ju 87) were bombing just south of us. About 10 am a Staff Sergeant who will be forever remembered in my prayers came to us in a 15 cwt. and told us that Jerry had made an attack on the SE corner of the "Fortress" and had been repulsed. How far they had gone back he didn't know, but he advise us to dig slit trenches for our own protection in case anybody came to us from the front.


We could see two miles at least to the south and apart from the odd bit of sand around, that was it and as we had no shovels or picks and the sand was all of two inches deep where we were, we didn't think much of him as a strategist or perhaps he was a tactician. He was kind enough however to leave us a Boys anti-tank rifle and two magazines with instructions to stop Rommel if we saw him. All this took place in a very few minutes and the dive bombers were over us all the time.


We went northwards (that is retreated) without waiting for instructions from GHQ Cairo and found a room built of stones on a ridge with a wadi to the south of it. From up there we could see a great deal further and what we saw wasn't reassuring. We had been on this ridge a few days earlier and transport and activity had been everywhere, now it was decidedly lonesome. Jerry shortened the range on his guns and we could feel the roar and rush of wind as the shells went over us.


By now we had collected a few assorted stray combatants but NCOs and officers were non existent. Then just to prove me wrong a lieutenant turned up from nowhere, he must have just passed a course in camouflage because I thought he was a boulder. He was mechanised too, he'd got a 15 cwt. and was determined to get promotion at our expense if necessary by demolishing everything that might be useful to Jerry. Across the wadi from us about 400 yards away was a truck which he decided we ought to fetch across to us and set fire to so that Jerry wouldn't get it. He then disappeared back into his boulder. Even after twenty nine years, I still haven't worked out the logic of these orders. He should have had my feet. We had walked past that truck on our way to the ridge and I think Hannibal had discarded it when he went over to elephants. It was quite certain that that lorry would never go again. Tobruk is a fairly flat plain of land almost surrounded on the south by an escarpment which is almost un-climbable except for one or two pathways and from where we were we could see that the war was getting pretty serious. There was a quietness about the west and south sides where Jerry was expected and an awful lot of banging and bumping on the eastern perimeter with lots of people and transport messing about as though they were heading west and Jerry shouldn't have been there at all. At last I realised that all those stories about Jerry being a dirty dog were all true and not just British propaganda put out by the Imperialist Capitalist Jews. No wonder I had been as lost as the British GHQ in Tobruk. The unspeakable Hun had come into Tobruk from the east and we weren't ready for him there. It was enough to make you spit.


We had a council of war on the best way to sort this lot out and it was held on a very high level of intelligence at first, as there were only a dozen troopers in the stone hut and the first thing on the agenda was a brew. Jerry now left the harbour alone and began a creeping barrage from the south slowly working northwards. It was evident that whatever he was after it couldn't be us but the shells kept getting nearer with occasionally the odd one going over us. It was then that the two bright shiny objects that marked the doorway of our room were in fact mortar bombes that some kind soul had decorated the building with. A lorry drew up and the driver told us all to get in as we had to rendezvous in Tobruk harbour. I asked him what had happened to all the tanks and the rest of the vehicles and men of the unit but news was very scarce. He said that most of the vehicles and all the tanks had already gone west but we might get information lower down. We headed on to the top of the escarpment and down on to the plain. Again we were dumped in the middle of nowhere but the crowds were beginning to build up. A 15 cwt with a lieutenant in the passenger seat came up to us, asked us to get on and away we went again. He had some water drums aboard and as the tops were wet I was reluctant to sit on them. However as there was no other choice I did sit down in what I thought was water. It turned out to be petrol and I then that I discovered that the "RING ARMY TYPE" doesn't fit on your finger. I think I qualified then wound stripe but the 15 cat pulled up amongst many more RTR types and the lieutenant informed us that we had been gathered together to be told to prepare ourselves to surrender to prevent further loss of life. The orders came from a man called Klopper who was OC Tobruk. This was the first time I knew anybody was commanding anything. The officer has just finished his piece and asked for any questions when a flight of 7 Stukas decided to join the party uninvited. He never seemed to run out of bombs. Anyway that particular party broke up in no seconds flat and every man ran as fast as possible for a slit trench he knew of on the horizon. I crawled under my helmet and hoped. The Jerries were about a hundred yards off me, which was quite close enough but it was all over in a couple of minutes and I decided that the best thing I could do was to use what water I had to wash my backside to get rid of the petrol. I also had some vaseline which I put to a good use. When I was presentable again, I recognised a three tonner of the 4th RTR on which I had put my blanket and kit on about a million years earlier. It was a fantastic chance that I found the truck again and got my stuff back and the driver was already beginning to set fire to it. It must have contained the clothing and private food of well over a hundred men but within seconds it was a roaring sea of flames. Jerry didn't get the truck but the British squadies never got the chance to reclaim their stuff either. It was just another example of the stupidity of all timed orders.


By this time it was late afternoon and men and rumours were now getting more numerous. Two were very prevalent. The Xth Army was coming up to relieve us and the navy was ready to pick up any man who could make it to the beaches west of Tobruk. I had a sojourn or two in slit trenches and as darkness came very quickly I had to decide what to do. Everything and everybody vanished very quickly, the stars had come out and as I could now get my directions I headed northwest. Even as late as this I couldn't believe that what had happened that day was not a nightmare. I had my web equipment, greatcoat, 4 blankets, kitbag, valise, a two gallon water can and my pistol with all my six rounds of ammo. I was by myself.


I passed a three tonner, on fire, and found out it was an ammunition truck when it exploded. I headed northwest taking everything with me, the only certainty being that when my feet got wet I would be in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately I managed to get into a wadi running almost due north and after following it for a while I decided that I must climb the west side. By now it was pitch black and I mean just that. I came across a group of four men half way up, 3 RAMC men and one wounded man. They had a very tiny light given by a hurricane lamp. The man had been hit by a bomb or a shell and had lost both limbs on the same side. He was in good hands and I decided to go still further to the west if it was at all possible. It crossed my mind that Roy Whittock who was in my Squad at Catterick had always prayed that he should not be wounded as this man was. He said that although he could swim if the boat went down, if he lost an arm and a leg on the same side he would only be able to swim in circles. I thought also of the 3 RAMC men who had a responsibility which they didn't shirk. I kept on climbing and eventually reached what I thought was flat land and immediately I fell in with a group of men round a small camp fire. They were all 4th RTR men but I saw no officers nor any NCOs. One of them gave me a pint mug of tea which I drank straight down before I found out it was rum. I was asleep before I hit the deck.


21-6-42 - Today started exactly the same as yesterday except that the Jerries were dead overhead, about 150 ft. I was sleeping on a very big flat rock, about 400 or 500 square yards in area. I was over it's edge into a trench far quicker than I can record it. We had surrendered but apparently the early rising Jerries hadn't been told about it.


Eventually the planes flew off and I could take stock of things. I say "I" because it was obvious to me that from now on it would have to be my own decisions if I were to survive at all. The so-called "Garrison" had been deserted by the army but I doubt if this "crime" had as yet got into the Statute book. I will let Mr Churchill's comments on the situation that now arose be sufficient condemnation of the whole stupid mess. We had a brew up and the tale came round that anybody who wanted to escape could take anything they needed and try to reach our own lines. This latest piece of fatuousness must have knocked the heart out of everybody. We now knew there could be no Dunkirk rescue and although we had one lorry it was beyond hope that we could get it off our little plateau. Jerry tanks were on the road a little matter of half a mile away. It was set on fire. The large group broke up into twos and threes and drifted away into the town which was several miles down the road to the east. But as we had some water and the makings ? Six of us stayed where we were. The other five were all strangers to me. The sea was straight down about two hundred feet. I had not realised I was so close last night. I could have been killed by falling backwards into the wadi or by falling forwards into the sea. It was a good thing for my peace of mind that the night had been so black. Amazingly only a hundred yards away was a little "dingo" car. The name "jeep" came later. It had belonged to an officer and was full of maps and papers. It was in going order and completely deserted. We burned all the papers and pushed it over the cliff. Then we burned all our own private and army papers and smashed what weapons we had. Super optimist, I buried my pistol and marked the place with some stones. It is probably still there yet.


We moved off to the east. The trail was getting longer and longer proving to my satisfaction anyway that the strength had been in the west. Although very few weapons were to be seen, the ground was littered with burned vehicles and equipment. The men were only carrying their own personal belongings which if they were like mine got heavier every second. One three tonner went by me on the sand bouncing like a car on a merry-go-round. One man was driving and it seemed to be empty. The camouflage net was trailing many yards behind - somebody was shouting. As it pulled away in front of me I could see that a man was on the net caught by his feet. How he came to be there was a mystery to me but he certainly had something to shout about. The driver naturally could not hear him over the roar of the engine. Later on I saw a corpse at the roadside but as to whether it was the same man I couldn't be sure. There were plenty of corpses strewn about but no badly wounded although there were plenty of sick and walking wounded. Ambulances were flirting back and forth and I hoped they were looking for people who needed their help.


Germans were scarce although I did see one black man from South Africa who was obviously drunk shape up to a young German soldier as if he was starting a boxing match. The Jerry pulled out a pistol and shot him dead with one shot. It was all over in 10 seconds. I walked for over 4 hours and got more and more tired. My kit got heavier and heavier until eventually I had to discard some of it. Some of the men slung stuff away as though they were going to a kitting out parade. The queue halted and we were passed through a file of Germans who searched us for weapons. It was getting dark by now and I sank by the roadside and fell asleep, to be awakened by a german staff car with full headlamps blazing. Because so many men were in the road it had to pull up. The Jerry officer in the back was standing up holding on to a handrail saying "Haf you all got trinkwater"? I had hung on to my 2 gallon can so I was not interested. I fell asleep again almost straight away. The phrase "By the waters of Babylon, they sat down and wept" was in my mind. Many years later after I had seen pictures of Rommel I was sure that this was the man who had wakened me up.


The following extracts are taken from an application for a war pension on 11-4-74. The application was not successful.


As a POW the early days consisted mainly of a starvation diet to prevent escaping. I was captured on 21-6-42. My first hot meal after that date was eaten on Saturday 4th July 1942. It consisted of one pint of boiled rice which poured like water. The interim period was covered by four rations of hard tack biscuits. This meal was given to us at a camp called Tarhuna in Libya. While we were at Tarhuna, we exhibited every known deficiency disease, Beri-Beri, Pellagra, eye troubles, Jaundice, Erysipelas Elephantiasis, Scurvy, Anaemia. I personally had a doctor diagnose what he called Vinson sore throat, a prelude to diphtheria. After this we all had a daily gargle of potassium permanganate. My two friends Reg Kilburn and Reg Howard both took sick and were taken away by truck. Kilburn later turned up on a missing persons list when I was in Germany. I never saw or heard of Reg Howard again. At this time a truck called every week to take away the sick. We never knew where they went or what happened to them. At Tarhuna there was absolutely nothing to do but sit on the ground all day. I could write a book about this period. One thing they gave us was lime juice. We remained in Tarhuna from 4-7-42 to Wednesday 18-11-42. All this time we had one pint of rice daily, one pint of cabbage water and three grammes of bread and nothing else. Moreover there was absolutely no activity at all in the camp. Indeed after a month nobody could stand unassisted. Walking was a major problem, running an impossibility. After leaving Tarhuna we eventually reached Italy, to a camp first at Tuturano and later at Camp 70 near San Georgio. The rice and cabbage diet continued although we now received food parcels which were supposed to be one per person per week, but owing to many things averaged out at about one per month. Health was a constant worry. Deficiency diseases disappeared but starvation was constantly with us. We left Camp 70 after the Italian surrender on Thursday 23rd September 1943, after fifteen months of a rice diet and starvation plus vitamin deficiencies galore. The first air raid I suffered was in Tripoli Saturday 21st November 1942. There were three ships loading POWs at about 6 pm. One was Numidia which I was on, one was D'Annunzio and the other I could not see the name. There were 6 planes and we were fastened below decks. The guards took shelter and left us to our fate. The raid was a short one but a boat and all the waterfront was hit. The other two boats with POWs on disappeared, we could not say what happened to them as we were still locked in. We docked in Palermo Thursday 26th November 1942 when we were allowed out. The next air raid of note was Verona, northern Italy on Saturday 25th September 1943. We were being transported from Italy to Germany in cattle trucks, it was about 11 am. 30 American bombers came over. The wagons were crowded with 50 or 60 of us in each wagon. We had no room to stretch out. We were locked in from Friday 25th September 1943 to Tuesday 28th September 1943. The German guards took shelter in slit-trenches away from the rails, sub-machine guns were pointed at us and we were told if there were any attempt at escape shooting would start. Wagons were derailed and blown over, roofs were blown off. Both Germans and POWs were hit, killed and wounded. The Germans cleared the wreckage, removed the casualties, hitched up the wagons again and we continued our journey still as crowded as ever until we detrained at Jakobstal.


Later (25-10-43) we ended up at a working camp at Himmelfahrt Fundgrube, Freiberg, Saxony in the triangle of Chemnitz, Leipzig, Dresden. The air raids were far too numerous to mention. Many times we had several air raid warnings in a single day. Night time the RAF flew over and started it again. Freiberg itself was bombed and we were called out in our own time to clear up the mess. One daylight raid we had a four engined super-fortress all to ourselves. We were in our air raid dug-out and the plane came in low, very low, it aimed straight for the factory at the height of a church steeple. We could see the faces of the crew, the machine guns and even lines on the fuselage and wings. Another time a bomber in trouble looped the loop right over us. Parachutes opened as the crew bailed out and our camp director shot at them with his pistol. The plane crashed between the two shafts of our mine. We were only a few miles from Dresden which had been untouched all through the war but in February 1945 an all out assault was made against the city. We could not count the number of raids we had, the planes were far too numerous to count. Everybody now knows about the Dresden bombing but we endured it all, and worst of all as far as we were concerned most of the German guards and miners had homes and families wiped out with the city. Men were taken out of the mine to clear up the mess over a week after the raids finally finished. On 14th April 1945 our working camp was broken up due to the Russian advance and we were put in a train at Freiberg. It was bitterly cold and snow lay everywhere. The trucks were open wagons so we could not be locked in as we had been on our trip from Italy to Germany.


Air raid alarms were very frequent and the train had to dodge circling aeroplanes. We went from siding to siding to miss allied fighters as the offensive against transport was continuing. We were attacked by allied Typhoon planes fortunately without effect but one German plane trying to protect us was shot down in flames by two allied planes (14-4-45). We were obviously in the wrong place. We ended up in Pirna east of Dresden and left the railway to go into the hills. Pirna was bombed by over 150 bombers; they were right above us and I counted them. It became an event if there were no air raid alarm.


On May 8th we were moving westwards from Pirna and were inextricably mixed up with Russian planes from 7 am until dark. I lost all contact with everybody and have no idea of the casualties our group suffered. That was the last day of the war.


I have been told by people who don't know about it that life as a POW must have been very boring. Whatever else it was I cannot honestly say I was bored. In Africa and Italy struggling against starvation and malnutrition was never boring and in Germany working in a lead mine left little room for boredom as the hours were too long and even after that we had our own camp fatigues to do. The most terrible thing about the air raids was that they were all carried out by allied airmen, but I never met one POW who wanted the bombing to stop. We all knew that we had to take our chances on being hit.


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