Corporal Gordon Leslie Hines
Unit : 235th Field Park Company REME, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division.
Served : France, North Africa (captured).
Army No. : 1184039
POW No. : 221441
Camps : P.G. 53 and 65, Stalags VIIIB/344 and XIIID.
Gordon Hines was born in Doncaster on the 28th November 1918. Called up for service in October 1939, he first joined "A" Company, 1st Motor Depot, before being posted to the 235th Field Park Company. He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and was evacuated from Dunkirk on the 1st June 1940. Posted to North Africa, he was taken prisoner in Libya on the 28th May 1942 and was held in P.G. 65 and then 53 before being sent to the E769 work camp attached to Stalag VIIIB/344. The following is his diary of the long march, written in an exercise book. Some of the writing is difficult to interpret, especially the German place names.
January 22 1945
Left E769 about 17.30. Walked 25k to Katerina Hof. Stayed 2 days.
Marched 16k to Schaneau. 1 night.
Marched 25k to Buchaldorf. 1 night.
Marched 12k to Ludwicksdorf, 1 night in stable.
Marched 25k over mountains to Scheinsdof, stayed 2 days, bitterly cold.
Marched 25k to Reichenstein, 1 night.
Marched 26k to Marzdorf, 2 days.
Marched 26k to Kamnitz, 1 night.
Marched 26k to Ottendorf, 2 days.
Marched 7k to Braunau (Weckersdorf).
Marched 25k to Merkelsdorf towards Troppenau, 1 night.
Marched 16k to Albendorf, 2 nights.
Marched off at 4.45am and marched 25k through Trottenau to Altenbuch
Crossed Sudentanland border into ???, marched 27k to Ischust (?).
Marched 27k to Dobritz. Civilian reception marvellous.
REST DAY. Billious during night. More gifts from civvies.
Marched 15k to Sameria. More gifts.
Marched 20k to Suchrowitz. At this stage gifts were forbidden. Weather has warmed up, snow melting.
Left Chesy (?), back into Sudentanland. Marched 21k to Jesowai. Beautiful weather.
Marched 20k to Reichstadt. Sunny and warm.
Marched 20k to Strausonitz. Snowing all day.
Marched 40k to Kleau Priesen, very bad billets.
Marched 18k through Ausrig to Auchine.
Started 10.00am Marched 14k to Probstau near Leplitz.
DAY REST. RED CROSS ISSUE .1/8 INVALID.
Marched 15k to Ossigg.
Marched 28k to Neusdorf. Through big fabric which had heavy bombing.
Marched 30k to Wistnitz. Sunny day.
Marched 15k to Roschwitz. Saw many Yank planes above.
Marched 35k to Gfall, not far from Karlsbad. Windy, snowy and cold.
Marched 22k to Wintersgrun. Saw a lot of Yanks bombing Banos??? and Dresden.
Marched 18k to Falkenau.
Marched 15k to Dobreaz.
DAY REST. Promise of parcel and cigs.
Marched 18k to Zetendorf through Ege. PARCEL ISSUE 1 +1/5 +1/10 + 18 cigs.
Marched 13k to Rothingenlubersbach.
Marched 14k to Rosliau. Entered Bavaria. Weather good.
Marched 10k to Neuenhammer.
Marched 12k to Gefrus.
Marched 18k to Ramsenthal.
DAY REST. Much aerial activity.
DAY REST. Talk of train.
DAY REST. Half parcel and 50 cigs.
DAY REST PALM SUNDAY. Packed our wagon on railway. Move at 4am.
Called at 6am. Move cancelled. Unload wagon.
Called at 6am. Move on Loaded Wagon. One parcel. March 5k to Bindlach Station. Left Bindlach 2pm Bayreuth 2.15. Arrived at Nurmberg East stayed all night. Rainy and cold. Open trucks.
Arrived at X111 D about 2pm.
Went to delouser. Into new compound. Bread 1/7.
GOOD FRIDAY. News very good indeed. Half parcel and 50 cigs. Bread 1/7.
Quiet day in X111D. Bread 1/7.
EASTER SUNDAY. Had to register. Wrote home. Talk of move. Received new boots.
EASTER MONDAY. Called at 4am moved off at 6am. Received half parcel as we left Stalag. Moved from siding at 8.30am. Did 20k in 12 hours, turned back and arrived in Lager about midnight.
Slept in open during night (Bread 1/7 and 1/14). Told we were marching out. One parcel and 50 cigs.
All NCOs and WOs told to parade to move. Dodged this. Jerry pulling out. 3am. Further orders to stand by for 8am ready to move. No bread. 20 cigs.
Settled in Tent 3. No bread. Heard of NCOs and WOs being straffed. Heavy air raid. 25 Yanks dead.
Typhus scare. No evacuation of Lager owing to Typhus. No bread.
Weather very bad. Heavy straffing by Yanks. Bread 1/8. News very good.
Weather much better. More straffing. Distant gunfire. No bread.
Weather very hot. (Moved to Luft 6) No bread no soup. No news of our front.
Weather very hot. Had hot bath. Plenty of air activity (Quarter American parcel) Bread 1/12. Still no news.
Weather very hot. Good rations Issued with knacker-brot. Heavy air raid. Gunfire very plain. News very good.
Dull and wet day. No aerial activity. Bread 1/8.
Dull and wet. Did my washing. Half parcel. Came in with move order at 18.15hrs, moved at 20.18 hrs. Marched 27k to Altenfelden. No bread. Further parcel issued. Marched until 06.30hrs.
Slept in farm orchard. Moved off at 17.00hrs. Marched 12k to Ebenreich. Slept in orchard. No rations.
Day rest. Walk in village, was picked up by Grenadier officer. Dull and promise of rain.
Moved off at 05.00hrs Marched to Shutzendorf. Slept in field. Very hot day. Continuous service of planes. Guns from front very active. Heard of fall of Nurmburg. No rations.
Day rest. Weather beautiful. Had bath. Much aerial activity, also ground activity. Lay up. No rations.
Day in barn. Out at 17.00hrs. Had good meal. Marched off at 23.00 hrs. Marched with Russian officers to Erkerzhofen 15k.
Arrived in at 07.30hrs. Spent day with Belgian boys. Good time. German troop rations. Beautiful day Not too much activity.
Still with Belgian boys. Moved out at 18.00hrs. Marched 6 k and retraced steps carrying on to further village BADERBUCH. Received bread. Beautiful day. Much aerial activity.
Moved off at 04.30 hrs. Marched until 07.00 to Pfunz. Left Belgian boys. Sent to CO Day of mental torture. Happy end to bad day by giving us our freedom with two guards as protection. Marched to Beitenfeldt 6k and put up in farm house. Heavy rain. Received 2 day knacker-brot.
Stayed day in farm house. Wet miserable day. Had meal with family. Nothing exciting.
Dull and wet day Still in farm house. Threats of move. Demolitions in nearby town. Too much suspense. 2 shoot ups of village. Further excitement by village folk. Bridges nearby demolished.
Very quiet uneventful day. Sunny and cloudy. Talk of 2 double letter Div's (??) pushing our boys back. Much talk of 3 power fight against out eastern allies. Still in farm house.
Heavy artillery duels from early morning. Much anxiety in the household. Very tense feeling. Firing from our guns soaring well overhead. 21.30 tanks report round by "PL" Day of big power conference in San Francisco. 12.30 finished dinner when shells began to land in village. Cottage almost opposite hit. Retired with family to cellar. Lay there for 3 ¾ hours then transferred to cellar in opposite house. Few more shells landed. ¾ hour silence Great relief: infantry machine and tommy gun fire had finished, we realised the arti fire had finished. ½ hr silence. Tanks heard on road. Went on to main road, contacted USA troops "Now we are free men". Later we had supper with 10 Yanks Eggs and bacon 1.55 guns opened up in village Rose from bed and had coffee and biscuits. So much for our Gefangenerschaft . Glory be!
My dear Mary's birthday. My first full day as a free man. Yanks pulled out early morning Had bath and did washing. Two posterns gave themselves up. Front going well. No sound of arti duels. Did guard for Yanks.
DETTENGEN. Had car given by Yank officer. Started off at 13.00 from PIETENSFELD to ANSBACH - WURZBURG.
HANUA - FRANKFURT a/m MAINZ - BINGEN-COBLENZ. Put up at Wesseling. Distance to date 520 k. Put up at house of robbers. Petrol trouble. Fixed in ½ hr.
April 29 Proceeded from Koln to Aachen Stopped at Deutch - Belg border Driven to Eupen Made quarters at displaced persons centre. Had good time with Yanks Had first doughnuts and coffee Saw film "Hi diddle diddle" Very cold, snowing.
Left Eupen at 11.00 hrs for Antwerp. Reported to 163 Field Ambulance. Had tea. Caught train to Brussels Arrived at 19.15 hrs. Received new kit and taken to hotel. Had supper at .......rest. Had local rag given.
Drew 10/- and 850 francs Spent day in Brussels sightseeing Weather too bad for flights
Left rest centre and proceeded by truck to airfield 12k from Brussels. Boarded Lancaster bomber at about 13.30hrs. Plane took off, flew through snowstorm, landed at Wescot near Aylesbury at 16.30. Grand to be in England again, after having been away from May 21st 1941. Taken to Army reception camp. Grand reception all the way.
Left reception camp for Baldwin's End, Eton. Arrived at 16.30hrs.
The following are notes for a talk he gave to the local Rotary Club in Leighton Buzzard, circa 1957.
Describe evening of capture and following few evenings.
Two days spent in Derna jail dysentery and foul conditions. Trip over to Italy arriving at Taranto in Gulf of Taranto.
Cattle truck transport to camp. Form of transit camp. Only clothes were what we stood in.
Italian rations. Medical exam and hair do.
In all camps our Senior NCOs ....
Move to 65 and with 3 weeks able to write home and confirm I was alive. Italian rations (rice/macaroni and 200g bread) and later food parcels. Wintry November before ant Red Cross parcels arrived. Reasonably small camp, perhaps 6,000 men. Stone built huts split into bays of 48 men. Camp Commandant was a lawyer and very fair. Story of old guard. Bathing facilities and portable hot showers, and shower under latrine taps.
Sector orchestra. Gramophone records (Isobel Bailey , 'I Know that my Redeemer Liveth').
Like the army barrack where there is always a raffle taking place, there was always someone wandering round flogging something.
Deals made with Italian guards, salmon tins. When parcels arrived, forms of cooking. Open fires. Bellow type blowers, then piston and the rotary blowers. Very efficient and economical. Embers obtained from cookhouse. RAF Sergeants balancing bully beef. Working in pairs or syndicates. Stone party extra loaf.
After a few months another first class trip in cattle trucks. Railway straffing. Arrived at Camp 53. Life rather dull, split and move came in a few weeks. Told we were moving north into better conditions. General swore on heart we were not going to Germans. Few days train ride in carriages and early one morning in Brennerisimo (?) were taken over by Germans. Into 4B near Berlin. More medical exams and hair do. Again form of transit camp. Time was July 1943. Further move to Lamsdorf 344.
Much more organised camp of about 12,000 men. Lots of 1939 fellows there, willing to help and put us right. Barracks of 150 men in two tier bunks, with Comm(anders?) in separate bunks.
Nightly gramophone recitals. Much bridge. Hootch brewed by Aussies. Some died and some blinded.
Change of army in RAF. Old Geo and razor.
Much more interest. Markets and purchases and sales with Germans. Pen bought for 200 cigs. Currency in camp was mainly cigs. Tobacco and cigs from home, plus Red Cross issue. Some Canadians were worth thousands of cigs.
International football, netball matches. Various feasts and fiestas were held by the various nationalities. Canadians from Dieppe landings and handcuffs. French Canadian thought to be put down latrine.
Tunnel activity and method of refilling.
Organised hot baths and duty of NCO to see every man indulged at least once per week.
Camp school and inability to concentrate. Idea to take up camp theatricals to regain concentration. Boy Came Home. Macbeth and G&S Mikado.
Christmas really was Christmas with appropriate Red Cross parcels. Comforts from home in personal parcels.
As opposed to Italy, when only a ....... may preach, we had well organised church padres.
Men of all ranks, mainly privates, for W/P. Volunteered of command of W/P. .......................
Organised band, concert and dances. Took concert to another camp, first met................?Time to move. Jan 21st 1945 when Russians were advancing westwards. I foot of snow, moved out 4.30pm not knowing where. Marched on and on, passing hundreds of Jews on roadside. Perhaps marched 10k or 50k, over frozen mountains, some men losing ears, toes or fingers from frostbite. Very erratic feeding and often having to buy or steal potatoes to boil in their jackets. Special treat was to save some for next days journey, when they were frozen in centre.
Glad to sleep anywhere, with any animals for warmth. As days grew warmer, very nice spring, we slept outside.
Escape into hayloft. Ukraine woman gave us away over chicken. Good meal in public.
March with French and Belgians. Decision to march us 3 with 2 guards to rejoin our columns.
Stay in Bavaria with hausfrau.
Arrival of Americans. Car given to us. Journey to Belgian border.
Stays in houses. Trouble with Provost Marshal. Light in Church Army hostel. Breakfast with GIs. Stay in Brussels. Flight home.
My thanks to Richard Hines for this account.
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