Private Vernon George Hart

 

Served : North Africa (captured)

Army No. : 28315

POW No. : 76463

Camps : Unknown camp in North Africa, Stalag VIIIC

 

Water and food very scarce at Tobruk, but the pinch wasn't felt yet. After a few days at Tobruk we were moved to Timini where the ration was 1 & [?] 2 Biscuits a day plus a tin of Iti Bully. Water was plentiful but brackish, obtained from a spring & gave the fellows [?] & later dysentery & diarrhoea so from here the trouble started. We lived out in the open on a salt lake near the sea but were not allowed to go bathing.

 

From Timini we were moved to Derna where we only stayed for a day & night. From Derna to Benghazi where we arrived on the night of the 1st July. Here we were issued with Jerry ground-sheets for tents. Three camps were soon full. The Iti's were beginning to bugger us around plenty now but the camp was being organised internally. The rations now were a tin of bully (small) & a load of bread (very small). The fellows were falling over like flies by now due to illnesses & hunger. We were all so weak we couldn't walk far & all were losing weight fast. The hygiene conditions appalling, the lavs being next to the tents. The stench was bad & flies plentiful. Rations were never given out at a set time & we were done down a lot, rations not issued never being made up. Trust the Ities!! Cigs were a real problem, an issue of 5 every 3 days. [?] we had to wait longer. A common occurrence was to see fellows (including myself) eyes glued to the ground looking for buttends. To save our boots we walked barefooted. I have only had my boots on twice in 2 months!!


Crown & Anchor was now started, we had a board which kept us in smokes etc. We had over 100 stolen from us one night. Money was flowing like water around those quarters. Another racket was to exchange watches, fountain pens, rings etc for food and cigs. Soon after that auctioneering started, the auctioneers taking a 10% cut in all sales. Things like overcoats & blankets, boots, razors, spoons, toothpaste, plates, belts, brushes, every article of clothing known & 101 other things could be bought for [?] or fags. Raffles were plentiful & a tin of spring bok [?] fetched 44, a tin of jam netted 8 & a bag of [? ?] 13-10. Watches were raffled & even bully beef.

 

Men were taken out on fatigue each day & were getting up at 1-2am to queue up to go out at 7. Some stood all day & never got out. Fellows were nearly killed in the mad scramble as the fatigues usually scrounged something to eat & could collect some firewood, which was a real problem & a brisk trade was done over the fence with the natives, money or cigs given for a small quantity. Indians & natives were taken on the dock fatigue which was considered the best & quite a lot could be scrounged.

 

The water position was becoming serious & most of us only had the clothes we stood up in & couldn't make a change. We were in a bad state. Tempers very often became frayed especially just before meal times & when we are short of smokes. Rumours are rife in a P.O.W. camp & at different times we were highly delighted & down in the dumps. The Itis tell us Alex is in their hands, then we hear that Tobruk has been retaken by our troops who are moving up to release us, then that an invasion had taken place & Turkey had declared war on Germany. Every few minutes of the day we hear something new.

 

Sometimes we play cards (when we can borrow a pack) but most of the time we sit around doing nothing. Our legs are very weak & we can't walk fast or far & we are as thin as rakes. Lice, fleas & flies are plentiful & some of the fellows are in a sad state. The Itis tried a disinfection plant but it was a failure. We have a mobile shower now & we can shower 3 times a day, a lot of thieving goes on. One night we lost 100 in cash, 3 tins of jam, a watch & clothing.

 

Reading matter is very scarce, I have read one book since early in June at Gazala. Fellows walk around the camp swapping books, hard cover for hard & soft cover for soft.

 

The ration now is a tin of bully (small) loaf of bread & a packet of our biscuits. When we have a pot meal (consisting of rice, split peas & a small portion of cheese) we get only tin of bully for that day. I can truthfully say that I have been hungry every minute of the day & night since I have been a prisoner, & no one who hasn't been in our position can realise what it actually means. Anything sweet would fetch a fortune here. Cigarettes were going at 10 for a 1 at first, but are now 100 for a 1 or 2 [?] singly. Fellows are continually swapping Bully for cigs, biscuits for bread etc.

 

The showers hold 16 men at a time, & each man is allowed 2 min. Iti issue of soap (2" x 1 x 1) which has to last us for a month. Daily water issue is now 2 water bottles & when this runs out we try & catch the drippings from the tank supplying the showers, but one has to be in the queue early & this is a long job. I waited as long as 2 hrs once.

 

No fatigues are taken from our camp now. Lately [?] have taken over guard of the camp. We get a small issue of coffee! & sugar each morning. Although we have a salt lake next to the camp, salt is very scarce & sometimes unobtainable. One issue of Red X cards which I don't expect will reach our people, if I know my Iti. A few radio cards were issued & drawn for, these were supposed to be dropped behind our lines by plane & then radioed to S.A.

 

Quite a few air raids have taken place by huge 4 engined planes which some say are Liberators (U.S.A.) We can't find out for certain what damage is done, but the main targets seem to be the harbour, ack-ack & aerodrome. A few of our planes have been brought down by the ack-ack which is considered one of the best. A total eclipse of the moon occurred in the early hours of yesterday (the 26th). This morning the whole camp was wakened by two violent explosions followed by a deep rumble. A huge column of dust & smoke could be seen, some saying it was an ammunition dump blown up. I hope so!

 

Cigs are so scarce that 2 razor blades are exchanged for 1 fag & in [?] blades are at a premium. Beards are the fashion now, even the British fellows growing them. Men are in groups of 50. A group commander (usually a Sgt Major) is in charge of each group, one being a Sgt. Major [?] of H.Q. Coy. They attend all meetings & draw all rations. Rations are brought into camp in a truck to a ration centre. A bugle is sounded when the group commander & 2 men collect. A signed ration & water card must be produced by each group. Groups draw water from different tanks. A guard is posted each night as water has been stolen.

 

Most of the ack-ack is around the harbour, 4 in a grove of trees near our camp. We are now issued with a spoonful of Indian fat called [?], per man, every 2 or 3 days (sometimes). Many fellows have given up smoking as they suffer too much on the issue. The issue has been set at 5 each on Monday, Wednesday & Saturday evening at present. I make porridge with grated biscuits. Our daily meal usually consists of coffee & a few biscuits for breakfast, one tin of bully & a loaf of bread between 3 of us for lunch & the rest of the bully for supper. We don't starve but hell how they try! Since the issue of British biscuits the fellows have been amusing themselves. Making lids for their dixies etc out of the tins & there is a lot of activity, banging & hammering all day.

 

There is a change in the weather already, clouds but no rain as yet. There are 5 [?] barbed wire fences around the camp & it seems impossible to get out, although a few have escaped & recaptured shortly afterwards. Firewood is very scarce & fellows are stealing the fence posts & even the loo seats. There has been a lot of air activity since night before last, planes coming & going throughout the night. Some boats have appeared in the harbour.

 

This life brings out ones real nature & some men that I thought well of previously have gone down in my estimation. Petty things make them lose their heads & quite a few have done their mates down with rations so that they could have more for themselves. Some of the men are very weak & seem ready to fall over. Some of the Tommy's as well as South Africans are a dirty crowd & never appear to wash themselves or their clothes. Now that the showers are in full swing it shouldn't be a difficult matter to keep one's body clean, if not their clothes, a haircut was a fag a time.

 

Some really first class ovens have been built of Iti bully beef tins & mortar, & some good dishes were turned out. The life is very boring nothing to do all day but wait for meal times; & even then one's appetite is not appeased. How I crave something sweet like cake or chocolate which would fetch a good price here at present. The main topic is food, from morning till night fellows discuss the meals they have eaten or would like to eat. Hell what a life!!

 

1/9/42. Rumour:- Our push had started & our forces were at [Gambut?]. How I would like to believe it. British chap was caught red-handed attempting to steal a mug last night. He was handed over to the camp authorities. Chilly mornings & evenings but hot during the day. I usually get up before sun-up as my body aches so & I can't sleep after that hour. We each get a turn at carrying a hot meal from the kitchen when we get the scrapings & have to clean & return the pot. That is so well scraped it doesn't need much water. Bought a small bundle of wood for 5 cigs.

 

Church services are held each Sunday all denominations except Jewish. A camp concert is held every second evening & a good couple of hours are spent. A guitar, accordion & cornet make up the band, songs are sung, jokes told & comedians do their stuff. Butch who used to sing at the Orange Grove & has a good voice, is one of the leading lights. We have just been told that the rice is finished & [?] meal will be substituted. Latest authentic news. Our troops are 15 miles this side of el Alamein.

 

2/9/42. Warm & cloudy, but no rain. Cool in evening.

 

3/9/42. Third anniversary of the war. A hell of a dust storm raging. Lice becoming more plentiful. Slept very little as Itis shooting off their rifles all night & dogs nearby howling & barking.

 

4/9/42. Hot meal stopped from today. Full tins of bully issued. Another 7 radio cards issued, but your truly "slipped again". More fellows seem to be becoming ill, mostly tummy trouble & sores. Sores turn septic almost immediately. Medical supplies wholly inadequate & the Itis reckon they can't get more. The Dysentery cases are really bad & some of them are shocking cases.

 

5/9/42. Still very hot during the day. A great majority of the fellows will be ruined for life & will end up with permanent ailments. On [?] digging today, which means I got a shower without waiting in the queue. Only one bottle of water today & no washing water. How do the Itis expect us to keep clean? Have washed my shirt & pants the first time for 2 weeks (water scrounged) [but spirits?] are good. Lectures are given almost daily on different subjects. Fags are now 125 per 1 for best makes. The prices on different articles fluctuate from day to day. Issue of Red cross cards today. Will they ever go off? Latest rumour is that a boat is in harbour to take 2,000 prisoners. Another one is that Jerry had started his push on Alex & the Suez, & that a fierce battle is raging. A few of us discussed what we were going to eat when we hit Cairo again. The menu would make even an outsiders mouth water. We had a slap up meal last night. 2 tins bully & small portion of dried onions [? bread?] & coffee (with a pinch of salt to taste).

 

6/9/42. Nothing to report. Rumours plentiful. Hot & dusty.

 

7/9/42. No issue of biscuits last night as they were [?], was to get an issue this morning but they were mouldy. Prisoners arrived to say that Jerry push had started & that he was getting hell. A convoy of ours had arrived at Suez (via the Cape) no. 106 vessels of which 6 were sunk. The prisoners say our lines are heavy with American tanks & guns. A big convoy also arrived at Malta. All are very optimistic & we hope that the Itis can't get us away before our troops arrive to release us. Weather same as yesterday. Churchill is said to have visited Stalin & Cairo where he met [?] among other high army officers. The S.A. are said to have had a rough time in the line. The first brigade in particular, the 3rd Brigade have also been in the thick of it. The news is bright. No showers since day before yesterday & small prospects for the near future. How we are expected to cook, wash ourselves & clothes also drink from one water bottle per day beats me. Dixies are made out of tin, as well as spoons, which are sold for 1 fag each. Pipes are engraved with Regimental badges etc.

 

8/9/42. Our group medically examined today. Sickly & weak cases to go to Italy first. A step up on the cig issue again just grub time & we are paraded at one end of the pen for a count.

 

9/9/42. Another count before breakfast. How the Itis love to play swines. Fellows in every walk of life can be seen walking between the tents eyes glued to the ground looking for butt-ends. Finding a butt-end is like picking up a fiver. Todays issue 5 English biscuits & 1/3 of an Iti [bisc?]. Things seem to be getting worse daily.

 

10/9/42. Warm day but plenty of cloud. New Zealand P.O.W.'s betting that we would be released within 14 days.

 

11/9/42. Clothes through disinfection. Blinding dust storm this afternoon & becoming colder. Soupy beans & hot soup.

 

12/9/42. British & SA biscuits seem to be finished as we had an issue of 2 Iti biscuits today. Same soupy hot meal. Weather quite cool & looking like more dust. More men being moved to unknown destination. Probably Italy. Caps, trousers & jackets made out of Iti blankets. Lice, fleas on the increase. Aussies betting 6-1 that we are released within 3 weeks.

 

13/9/42. 1,000 men moved to No.1 pen. Attended [50 to?] concert, but a bit of a flop. Weather cool & cloudy. Back to bully & bread again. Some of the fellows made a break last night. It must have been a good job as the guards patrol the whole fence. Rumour:- we had taken Messa [?]. Heavy rainstorm & we were flooded out, water running in our side of tent & out the other. Everything sopping wet. Moved our tent to higher ground. At about 8 p.m. our bombers started to arrive & ack-ack & search lights were busy, but the bombers were coming in from all angles. While the raid was going on, some fellows attempted to make a break choosing the same gap as previously used, a fellow being shot dead. The raid lasted for about 4 hours, although only few bombs were dropped. At 4 a.m. the Itis sounded the general alarm & machine gun & heavier gun fire could be heard from the S.E. The general idea is that a long range desert patrol were moving on Benghazi, the bombers covering their advance. Plenty of boats in the harbour.

 

14/9/42. Bright & sunny, not a cloud. An [?] on the auction sale went for 6 cigs today. Rosaries are auctioned, & some of the Tommy's even had to sell their bibles for fags, second hand razor blades can be had at the auction. Paid 3 cigs for 4 gall of water. Bully & T are on in the [? ? ?].

 

15/9/42. Fine day. Concert this evening.

 

16/9/42. Hot meal (soupy) windy & quite chilly. Bought a small bundle of wood for 9 fags. Rations moving out of next pen, so it looks like more wood. Liberators over at mid-day. So unexpected that it surprised us all (including the ack-ack). First we knew when bombs were actually exploding in vicinity of harbour. No damage to our bombers. Rumoured damage done. An oil tanker & merchantman sunk, an ack-ack position wiped out & an air raid shelter hit. Rumour we had made a landing withstanding at Tobruk. Aussies started new game of toss the penny & crown & anchor board seemed to be suffering. Very little money in the pen & a watch is a rare thing. The Itis seem to have most of them now. While most of us are starving the crown & anchor kings eat figs in syrup & other dainties. These Capitalists!!

 

17/9/42. Bright & sunny. Almost got carried out of the tent by fleas last night. Witnessed [?] battles at 2 a.m. but it didn't last long as the fellows are so weak. Concert tonight. New songs composed in the pen sung by B[?].

 

18/9/42. Bright & sunny. No more coffee from today! Quite a lot of air-raid activity lately especially Jerry bombers. Rumours:- Dyptheria had broken out on a ship in the harbour. 2, fighting at el Alamein. 3, our line Tobruk, el Adam, Siwa & strong column was advancing. 4, a column had bypassed Benghazi, cutting it off & was on its way to El Agalia.

 

19/9/42. Fine day. Rumour:- 1, our troops 50 miles south of Benghazi. 2, one of our para-troops captured at [?]. Convoys moving on road throughout night. The market has been closed down as the fellows reckon it is too much of a temptation having dates, bread, tomatoes etc. exhibited before them every day when they were starving. [?] Rumours:- 1, our push started 13th & Gen Alexander said he would be in Tripoli within a month. Beautiful moonlight night.

 

20/9/42. Lovely day. Sent off 3rd batch of Red X cards. Water from a bin in the pen issued for washing clothes. Rumours:- Hedabia was occupied by one of our columns. 2, Derna drome had been evacuated by Jerry & pass blown up.

 

21/9/42. 3 months P.O.W. More ships in the harbour are having balloon barrage. Rumour:- We had cut road between Benghazi & Triploli.

 

22/9/42. Fine day plenty of air activity, including Stukas, which is a good sign as they haven't long range. Morale & hopes are very high. Ack-ack again caught flat-footed. 18 Liberators bombed & got away with only a few guns firing. One of the fighters that took off after them came back & crashed on the drome. A column of black smoke 10 min after the planes left, the greatest column of smoke I have ever seen went up from the harbour & a tremendous detonation, the blast being felt in the pen which is 3 miles from the docks. Soon afterwards a fresh sheet of flame shot up. The fire seemed to be spreading & after the concert we were treated to a fireworks display. Another detonation & sparks all colours of the rainbow rose hundreds of feet in the air. Soon after we turned in another lot of bombers were over & dropped more bombs. Damage done. Rumours:- a merchantman of 7,000 tons, having on board tanks, armoured cars, transport vehicles & ammo had been hit, also an oil tanker & other smaller craft. The docks were damaged & a great deal of damage done.

 

23/9/42. Fine day. Rumours:- 1, Jerry fighting a rear-guard action from Derna. 2, we had columns all over the desert. 3, more that 100 natives working on the docks had been killed. 4, Tank battle at Msus & prisoners from there reckon it is a matter of days before we are released!

 

24/9/42. Nice day. Hot meal. Rumour:- Road between Benghazi & [?]abia had been cut by 300 of our armoured cars.

 

25/9/42. Fine day with cool breeze. Pea soup today. Toasted bread & coffee.

 

26/9/42. Hot & windy weather. Very dusty. Indian from next pen had been in [?] for 3 days & predicted we would be released tomorrow. Fleas giving us hell.

 

27/9/42. Group commanders gave out that this was now a registered camp & would soon be paid in Lire. Six Liberators dropped their eggs in the harbour this afternoon & at 11.30 p.m. more were at work. [?] windy.

 

28/9/42. Hot wind from desert:- plenty of dust. Move to a spot near the kitchen. Rations still loaf of bread & 1 Iti biscuit.

 

29/9/42. Cloudy & windy. Almost daily air raid & general alarms when the Itis dash around like mad, but nothing ever happens. A pall of smoke hanging over the town.

 

30/9/42. Hazy clouds, light breeze. Recce plane over 9 ships in harbour. Rumour:- 700 marines captured at Tobruk had gone to Italy.

 

1/10/42. Hot & dusty. Concert.

 

2/10/42. Chilly breeze. Later windy & plenty of dust. Saw good clean scrap between 2 Aussies. New battery of ack-ack being dug in near the pen. Rumour:- (1) Own troops still at El Alamein. 2, Jerry had withdrawn to new line Sollum, Kelfara Pass & our push was imminent.

 

3/10/42. Very cloudy & chilly. Concert. Letter cards issued.

 

4/10/42. Cloudy. Stukas & fighters patrol when it is cloudy now.

 

5/10/42. Chilly. Greatcoats being worn a lot now. Rumours:- King of Italy & Pope want peace. Later cloudy, lightning, thunder.

 

6/10/42. Very cold. Prisoners captured say that our push would start any day now as this front was to be closed by the end of the year. They say 12 Divs. at Alamein. 6 Liberators dropped bombs last night.

 

7/10/42. Clear but cold. Plenty of air activity. 1,000 men from next pen told to move. Brisk trade in fire-wood, [?], sugar etc. for cigs over fence. Rain later in evening.

 

8/10/42. Very cold. Wind changes direction 4-5 times a day. Rumour:- Our push started on the 11th. Sugar ration is 1 teaspoonful. Food main topic.

 

9/10/42. 13 Liberators bombed the docks. Civvie population of Benghazi had been warned to expect more daylight air raids.

 

10/10/42. Warm day. Arts & crafts exhibition today. A wonderful collection of articles made of glass, tin, cloth etc. An all day queue lined up to see them. 8 Liberators over this evening.

 

11/10/42. Cloudy, cold & some rain. Church service. Best concert so far. Ack-ack opened up at lone plane over.

 

12/10/42. Rumour:- Our push had started but Jerry repulsed & pushed us back.

 

13/10/42. Fine day. Rumour:- Jerry push had started, we repulsed him & were sending columns into the desert. The cooks, M.P's & staff are the only ones who look well & can be singled out any time. 1,000 whites & 1,000 Indians left for Docks.

 

14/10/42. Fine day. Rumour:- Our forces were fighting between Sollum & Benghazi. We had no intention of pushing Jerry but intended to smash him at El Alamein.

 

15/10/42. First coffee ration since 18/9/42. Cloudy, rain & dust storm during night tents collapsing & tins blowing about.

 

16/10/42. More men left for next pen. Cloudy. Two Tank corps prisoners say that a push hadn't started yet, but would do so with the second phase of the moon & nothing would stop them. We had a long range gun that out distanced anything that Jerry had. Dysentery & diarrhoea on the increase again. 4 Liberators bombed from above the clouds some bombs falling close to pen.

 

17/10/42. Cloudy & some rain. Another arts & crafts exhibition. Talent contest this afternoon. 2 cigs [?] by Iti Camp Commandant. Rain during night.

 

18/10/42. Warm but chilly in shade. News. Position at El Alamein static. Germans claim Stalingrad [?], denied by Russians. Soloman Islands cleared of Japs by Americans & Aussies fighting. Fighting successfully on New Guinea. Big air raids on Ruhr, Rhine & Cologne. Jap battleship sunk. Second talent concert. 21 divs at El Alamein & push started.

 

19/10/42. Rain last night, very chilly. Heard that we will move from here in 10 days time. Final of talent concert. Another convoy in harbour.

 

20/10/42. Sunny but cold. Packed up to move, but cancelled later so slept next to wall. Move tomorrow.

 

21/10/42. Cloudy & chilly. Move to next pen. 1,000 men in pen. Running water but not much room to move in. Another search for knives etc. Rain in afternoon. About 12 fellows hid in old pen & hope to make a break from there. Later they were found & brought in by Itis.

 

22/10/42. Fine sunny day. Rumour:- We had encircled Jerry & Iti army!!

 

23/10/42. Chaps who attempted escape put on 5 days bread & water. Sunny day. Count of pen almost daily. No bread but Iti biscuits. Rumours:- we had pushed Jerry back 100 Kilos & Italy Bulgaria & Finland asking for separate peace. Rain during night.

 

24/10/42. Cloudy & cold. Rain on & off during day. Millions of fleas. Heavy rain during night & tents flooded out. Rumours:- Americans had landed huge force in West of Africa. 2, 4 Iti Divs had arrived & were going to West Africa.

 

25/10/42. Heavy rain until midday, later clearing up but cold. Concert this afternoon. No hot meal. Rumours:- 1,000 men to leave on Tuesday for Tripoli or Italy. 2, fierce fighting in Tunisia. Clothing now wearing out & cold weather will bring many illnesses, as many fellows haven't boots or overcoats. Lice, fleas, beetles, ants & mice in this camp.

 

26/10/42. Rain again & becoming very cold. No hot meal.

 

27/10/42. Cold & cloudy. Lecture in diamond digging.

 

28/10/42. Rumours:- push had started on 24th & our troops were coming up fast. Rommel had been on Russian front for last 10 days. 2 fellows hopped the fence, knocked [?] guard down & made break. All guards opened up with rifles & bullets were whizzing around the tents.

 

29/10/42. Clear, cold & windy. News heard on wireless by our operator:- our push had already started, heaviest tank battles, Jerry being pushed back with heavy losses. R.A.F. sending over waves of bombers, bombing forward troops & Masa. Yesterday we took 1,000 prisoners.

 

30/10/42. Clear but windy. Rumour:- Americans had landed at Morocco advanced 30 miles. Our troops were fighting at Sidi Barani. Auctioneer, crown & anchor etc still doing business.

 

31/10/42. 500 men from "A" pen moved by transport & later 500 from "B" pen. Rumours:- We had advanced 27 miles first day. Tunis in our hands.

 

1/11/42. Nice warm day. News:- 8th Army still advancing fighting very active, captured prisoners & tanks. Another 500 men moved away this morning. Hot meal late arrived at 3 p.m. Big convoy on road, including big guns, moving West.

 

2/11/42. Windy & cold. Movement of prisoners cancelled. Another big convoy passed. Another 5 men attempted to escape, but were recaptured. Erecting [?] fence around pens. Mid-day meal arrived at 7.30 p.m. Lack of fire-wood says the Iti. Very little air activity but roads busy.

 

3/11/42. Chilly with some clouds. Time put back an hour from today. Hot meal late again. Spirits very high, some fellows talking of [?] move. Talk on Gibraltar, Malta & China. News from B.B.C.:- 8th Army still doing well had captured 2 important strong points (believed to be the Omars). Stiffer opposition encountered in the air, we brought down 4 M.E's & 2 88's.

 

4/11/42. Chilly but sunny. Small onions now cost 18 cigs!! Plenty of air activity since last night. Indian shot while attempting escape last night. Convoy of ships in harbour. 20 Liberators over at noon. Bombed harbour, drome & ack-ack in palm trees, a few bombs falling close to pen. No hot meal & D.M.R. fellow shot by [?].

 

5/11/42. Nice day. Rumours:- A hy tank battle in Sidi Omar, we getting the better of Jerry. 2, talk of 3,000 new prisoners coming in. 500 men moved by transport. No hot meal again. 7 groups in our pen warned to move at 4.30 in the morning by transport to Tripoli. Examined by doctor.

 

6/11/42. Nice day. Up at 3.30 a.m. making coffee & saying cheerio to mates. Move cancelled at 6 a.m. as new prisoners came in last night, caught at El Alamein & they are to leave first. At 12.30 9 Liberators bombed the docks, & a huge column of smoke & flame appeared. 4.15 another 6 Libs over. Rumours:- Natives say 5 boats sunk. 2 natives say 2 sunk.

 

9/11/42. Chilly & cloudy. No hot meal. Natives say we have taken Mersa & Sidi Barani & Jerry was on the run. 160 of our natives on a [?] boat in Tobruk harbour burnt to death. Fire at docks still burning. Natives from Tobruk arrive.

 

10/11/42. Warm day. Great air activity & lorry load of furniture, stores etc passing towards Tripoli day & night. Troop carrying planes coming & going all day. Natives say road from Tobruk clogged with vehicles coming our way. Rumours:- We had taken Sollum, Bardia & [?] Pass & Jerry on run. Home radio said that axis would hold the line at H[?]. Tobruk had been retaken by us. An Iti General killed at Sollum. Own troops were in the desert not far from Benghazi. No hot meal. 1,300 men leaving tomorrow.

 

11/11/42. Steady stream of transport, tanks and guns all night. Lovely day. Find docks still burning. Told to pack up. Armistice Day pause observed, bugles blowing the "Last Post". March to the docks at 2 p.m. (about 1500 [?]) and embarked in a 10,000 tons vessel called [?]. Iti Sailors but Jerry Gunners manning ack ack guns. [Sea?] calm but had to sleep on steel decks. 1 cruiser escort and we left the harbour at 5.45 p.m. Ship in harbour still burning, more than 5 days, we zig zagged a lot.

 

12/11/42. Bright and hot day. Concert party played and sang for us. A Jerry also playing the piano accordion. [?] we got a tin of bully & 2 Iti biscuits. Tripoli reached at about mid-night.

 

13/11/42. Docked early. Fellows sleeping in the hold discovered cases of sweets and did we eat! A search followed but none were found. We disembarked at 10.00 a.m. and were taken by lorry to a camp 10 miles away. The docks and harbour at Tripoli were simply teeming with all types of craft, loading and unloading. Tripoli is a big place and the country around very [?] trees, fruits, vines, vegetables etc. Our camp very cold at night and hot during the day. Issue of 2 blankets, and Iti dixies. Hot meal at midday, and soup a loaf in the evening. Plenty of flies, water seems scarce.

 

14/11/12.

 

END.

 

From BRESLAU to ZIEGENHAIN

DATE

25 Jan 45

26th Jan 45

27th Jan 45

28th Jan 45

29th Jan 45

30th Jan 45

31st Jan 45

31st to 3rd Feb

4th February 45

5th February 45

6th February 45

7th February 45

8th February 45

9th February 45

10th February 45

11th February 45

12th February 45

13th February 45

14th February 45

15th February 45

16th February 45

17th February 45

18th February 45

19th February 45

20th February 45

21st February 45

22nd February 45

23rd February 45

24th February 45

25th February 45

26th February 45

27th February 45

28th February 45

1st March 45

2nd March 45

3rd March 45

4th March 45

5th March 45

6th March 45

7th March 45

8th March 45

9th March 45

PLACE (SLEEP)

Kriptau

Schota Kirche

Damsdorf

Profen

Hermansdorf

REST DAY

Pilgramsdorf

REST DAYS

Loosnig

Uhlersdorf

REST DAY

Rothwasser

Neuhammer

Selingersruhe

Hermsdorf

Wolfhain

Jessen

Senftenberg

REST DAY

Plessa

Zeithain

Naundorf

REST DAY

Wermsdorf

Pomssen

Gestewitz

REST DAY

Wischstauden

Obernessa

Bad Sulza (Stalag IXC)

Umpherstadt

Ullich

Siebleben

REST DAY

Mechterstadt

Stregda

Obersuhl

Grossensee

Sorga

Frielingen

REST DAY

Ziegenhain Stalag IXA

KILOS

15

22

30

12

13

 

28 (obtained plow-wheels & made cart with sled)

 

24

16

 

14

15

17

22

17

22

23

(ate horse)

36

30

20

 

17

27

15

(FW lined men against wall)

22

27

52

30

26 (Yanks [?] us on autobahn near Weimar)

27

 

15

20

30

7

19

20

 

22

752

7 days we pulled the sled & from Pilgramsdorf with our cart (BLUE PERIL)

 

 

My thanks to Dennis Schultz for this account.

 

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