Warrant Officer Thomas Henry Arthur Sutton
Note: The following report was made to MI9, though it is not a typical escape report as all events described took place after the end of the war.
The following circulation of this information is made, it is important that its source should not be divulged.
NAME, etc:- 1446557 W/O SUTTON, Thomas Henry Arthur, 620 Sqdn. Bomber Command, R.A.F.
DATE OF INTERVIEW:- 1-3 Feb 46.
On 27 Apr 45, after leaving STALAG IV B (MUHLBERG) with the Russian P's/W I remained with them until we arrived at SACHSENDORF (?) a village about 6 km. East of STALAG IV B. By this time I had found a Russian (name unknown) whom I had known in the Camp and on arrival at the village we, with many others, got on to a horsedrawn wagon. We were supplied with bread and wine. All the other P's/W had similar forms of transport.
We travelled East for a distance of 20 or 30 km. and arrived at a town (name unknown) where everyone had to pass a check at a barrier. The Russian, with whom I was travelling, vouched for me and after some argument I was allowed to pass through.
At this stage the horse wagons, which had been used by the P's/W were taken over by the Russian soldiers, who appeared to be a mob of armed plunderers. They were not dressed in uniform, but wore odds and ends of every type of clothing. There appeared to be no organisation for the reception of the P's/W.
My Russian friend took me to an unoccupied house, where we found food which we ate. He spoke very little German and I knew only a few words of Russian. He made me understand that I would be able to get into touch with the proper Russian authorities in due course. We lived in this fashion for four days. The Russian obtained food, cigarettes, etc. (source unknown). There were no Germans in the town. I did not see any British or American personnel.
On about 1 May I saw that a house-to-house search was being conducted by Russian soldiers in uniform. When they arrived at the house in which my Russian friend and I were staying they questioned my friend. After some time he told me that we would have to accompany the Russian soldiers. We were escorted to a large house, where we were taken before a Russian Major Alexi (surname unknown). He questioned my friend and after some time my friend was sent out of the room.
The Major then spoke to me, in German, and asked my whether I understood that language. I replied "Yes". He then asked me where my P/W Camp had been located, whether I was British or American, how long I had been a P/W, whether I was a soldier or an airman, number rank and name. As my Russian friend had known me under the identity of BEST, American Army, and I was in American uniform, I gave the answers as they applied to Cpl. BEST.
He then said "ROOSEVELT is good. CHURCHILL is a Jew. ROOSEVELT is good". He then laughed.
He then instructed me to strip and I did so. He examined the whole of my body very closely and told me to dress. He told me to stand in the corner of the room and ignored me for about an hour, during which time he was engaged in writing. At the end of that he called an orderly and I was taken out of the room to the kitchen of the house, where I was given bread and Russian tea. After this I was taken to an attic in the house, which was furnished with a bed, a wash-bowl and a chair. There was no bedding. The orderly said, in German 'This is your room'. I remained there for about six or seven days.
The door of the room was not locked, but on the first day when I wished to go to the lavatory and had gone down the stairs to look for it, I was stopped by two armed Russian guards. In due course I made them understand what I wanted and they showed me where it was, but it was apparent that I was not allowed to go down the stairs.
I was fed several times a day and from the Russian point of view I was well fed with large quantities of meat, eggs, etc. as well as plenty of vodka. My condition was such that I could not consume what was given to me.
On about the fourth day of my detainment at this place, the Russian Major came to my room and asked whether I would like to go to the cinema. I replied that I would and he took me across the road to a village hall, where I saw a Russian film depicting Russian submarine activities. It was a propaganda film, which appeared to be fantastically childish. When it was over I was taken back to my room by an orderly. The Major did not ask for my opinion about the film.
On about 8 May the whole town was evacuated in a disorderly fashion. All possible means of transport was used. I was in a car with the Russian Major and a Lt. Boris (surname unknown). There were approximately 200 individuals in the party.
For approximately four months this party travelled along second class roads in a South-Eastern direction and eventually arrived at a town (name unknown) about 25 km. South of NEISSE. En route all members of the party engaged in looting from houses. This appeared to be at the discretion of the individual, but all livestock which could be found was herded on an organized basis. Everyone was drunk most of the time. I witnessed many cases of women of all ages being raped by the Russians, including the Major and the Lieutenant. These women were shot afterwards.
During the whole of this time I was forced to be with the Major or the Lt. who appeared to be his assistant. After about two months every member of the party, including the officers and myself, was engaged in herding the livestock. It was usual for the party to stay in a village for two or three days before moving on to the next one.
At various times the Major and the Lt. had arguments in Russian about politics. On a number of occasions they would refer to me, speaking to me in German. The gist of such arguments was that RUSSIA and AMERICA would, and could, rule the world together. That ENGLAND was ruled by Jewish capitalists and was against RUSSIA. I was always asked, in German "You ROOSEVELT - you CHURCHILL?' I always replied 'ROOSEVELT'. They would then pat me on the back, and say 'Good' and resume their drinking.
On many occasions I asked the Major when I was to be sent home. He never answered me.
About Sep 45 the party arrived at a town (name unknown) about 25 km. South of NEISSE and about 10 km. West of LEOBSCHUTZ. The Major took possession of a house as usual and I was employed on tidying his bedroom, office, etc. I was not allowed to leave the building which was guarded by sentries patrolling outside.
The food was not so good, or plentiful as it had been.
After about a fortnight I asked him when I was to be sent home. He said 'Soon' You will like 'RUSSIA'. At this time I did not know that the War had finished and his remark caused me to become very upset. I then decided that I should have to escape. I planned to leave the house during one of the Major's drinking bouts.
On the following day I asked the Major for permission to write a letter to my Mother. He agreed and I wrote a letter in English explaining that I was travelling from WEST to EAST and hoped to be home very shortly. If there was any delay to enquire into the circumstances. The Major asked me for the letter and I gave it to him. It was evident that he could not understand it. I then placed it in an envelope addressed to Mrs. BEST, 7 West-Lee Street, BALTIMORE, Maryland, U.S.A. The Major said that he would post it for me, but I said I would post it myself when we should be out together. He agreed to this and I retained the letter.
I addressed another envelope to Mrs. SUTTON, C/o The Air Ministry, LONDON, with SUTTON R.A.F. on the back. These were typewritten. I hid this in a satchel to the Major.
A few days later the Major asked me to accompany him to a party in a house on the outskirts of the town. I agreed and at dusk we arrived at a large house, where there were many Russian officers and women. There was music, dancing, etc. I am a tee-totaler.
At about midnight, when most of the Russians were very drunk, I left the house. Just outside the door I found a Russian sentry who was in a drunken stupor. I picked up his rifle and walked off North across country. Eventually I came to a road going North and walked along it. It was my intention to fight if anyone tried to stop me.
About dawn I arrived at a deserted
village which had been badly damaged. I entered a house and went to sleep.
I remained there until the following morning, when I left the house. I immediately destroyed the rifle by sticking the barrel into soft earth and firing one round. I walked North across the field parallel to the road. I did not see any human being.
That evening I saw a large town ahead and I walked East along a field footpath. After cover about 4 km. I arrived at KLEINWARTHE (about 6 km. South-East of NEISSE). This is a village containing about 12 houses. I saw the Polish flag hanging from the window of one of the houses and approached the back door. I knocked at the door, which was opened by a man of about 60 years of age. I asked him 'Do you speak English'. He answered in a foreign language, which I did not understand. I pointed to my uniform and said 'Amerikanski'. He went into the house a returned a few moments later with a woman who appeared to be his wife. She looked at me and then took me by the hand and led me into the house. They gave me bread. They could not understand German and I did not understand their language. By signs I tried to discover my whereabouts. In due course the woman made me understand that we were near NEISSE.
The man then left the house and returned a few minutes later accompanied by a woman. She began to speak to me in German. I told her that I was an American. I asked her the name of the nearest large town. She told me that we were near NEISSE and explained the details of the area. I marked this on a German map which I had obtained from an empty house. She told me that she was Polish and explained that the Russian and Polish police were patrolling all roads in the area: also that Russian Army manoeuvres were taking place on a large scale. She advised me not to walk on the roads by day or by night. She said that as I was an American I should have no difficulty as I could produce my identity papers. I then explained that I had been a P/W in German hands and had no papers. At this the woman refused to say anything further to me and held a conversation with the occupants of the house. After a time she told me that they would give me some food and would allow me to stay there that night. She also said that the best time to travel would be at dawn for about an hour. I elected to stay there that night and to leave at dawn the following morning.
At dawn the old couple awakened me and I left the house. I walked through the village and followed a footpath East across the fields. I then met a party of three Polish refugees, two men (names unknown) and a woman. I joined them without speaking. After a time the woman in the party said 'French?' I replied, in German, 'American'. It was not possible to carry on any further conversation.
About 20 minutes later I saw some troops ahead and made this woman understand that I had no papers. She indicated that none of the party had any papers.
We walked along field footpaths for the first few hours after dawn each morning and hid in deserted houses throughout the remainder of each day until we arrived near KATOWICE on about 1 Nov. The Poles had bread in perambulators and we found food in many of the deserted houses on the way.
On the way I burned the letter I had written to Mrs. BEST. The typewritten envelope addressed to Mrs. SUTTON, c/o the Air Ministry had been left in the Major's satchel.
The two men left the woman and I on the outskirts of KATOWICE and she and I went to her parents home on the outskirts. The woman was Edyta GUZY. Her parents' home is at 1a, Jana Gwizdza, NOWA-WIES, (KATOWICE).
On arrival at the house the woman explained my presence to her father. He indicated that I should hide in the house. He gave me a suit of civilian clothes, overcoat, cap, shoes, shirts, underclothes, socks, etc. I retained my uniform in the room which they allocated to me. They indicated that I should not leave the house at any time and that they would make enquiries in KATOWICE concerning a British or American Consul, or an International Red Cross Representative.
I remained in the house awaiting developments until about the middle of Dec. when the man told me that there was a British Consul and a Red Cross Representative in KATOWICE also that the restrictions on the movement of civilians in the area had been relaxed.
On the following morning I left the house alone dressed in civilian clothes. I had learned how to ask, in Polish, for the Red Cross. I walked along the road to KATOWICE, asking Polish civilians for directions to the Red Cross. When I arrived at the enquiry bureau of the International Red Cross Society I said, in English, 'I am English and want to see the Director'. I was taken to his office a few minutes later and asked him whether I could get into touch with the British Consul in KATOWICE. He answered that there was not one in that city and that I should have to go to WARSAW. I then asked for a parcel of food, which he gave to me. He told me that he could not give me a Railway warrant for my journey to WARSAW, but that I could get one from the other Red Cross Bureau near the railway station. I left the building and returned to the Poles at NOWA-WIES.
I gave the food parcel to the family and indicated that I had not been able to find the Consul. He assured me that there was one, but was unwilling to take me there. I then asked him for directions to the Red Cross Bureau which was situated near the Railway Station and he explained how to get there.
About five days later I left the house dressed in my American battledress and walked to this Red Cross Bureau in KATOWICE. I asked, in German, for a railway ticket to WARSAW. I saw a woman and was asked who I was. I explained my true identity. I was given a Railway Warrant to WARSAW and advised to wait until after Christmas before making the journey. I then returned to the family at NOWA-WIES and explained what I intended to do.
On 7 Jan 46 I returned the civilian clothes, except the underwear, to the family and dressed in my American battledress left the house. I walked to the Railway station in KATOWICE and boarded a train for WARSAW, where I arrived on the morning of 8 Jan.
I approached a Polish civilian and asked, in Polish, for the British Ambassador. I was given directions and eventually arrived at the correct building. I reported to F/Lt. PHILLIPS, the Assistant Air Attache and gave him a vague outline of my experiences. I was accommodated in the building until 27 Jan, when I was sent by air to the U.K. via BERLIN. I arrived in the U.K. on 28 Jan and reported direct to No.106 [?].R.C., R.A.F. Station, COSFORD, as instructed at BLACKBUSHE, the aerodrome at which I had arrived.
I understand that the Air Attache, WARSAW, has taken steps to reward the GUZY family for having sheltered me for about two months.
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