Private Fred Moore
Unit : HQ Company, 1st Parachute Battalion; 1st Airborne Division.
Served : North Africa, Sicily, Italy, North-West Europe (captured).
Army No. : 2619993
POW No. : 118745
Camps : Stalag XIB
Fred Moore joined the Grenadier Guards in June 1940, but shortly after volunteered to become a member of No.2 Commando, Britain's first airborne formation. This unit was later renamed the 1st Parachute Battalion and Fred served with them throughout the war, in North Africa in 1942, Sicily and Italy in 1943, and finally at Arnhem in Holland in September 1944, where he was captured. To read his previous experiences, go to http://www.pegasusarchive.org/arnhem/fred_moore.htm
'It was a cold and miserable night when we arrived at Stalag 11B. The severely wounded were transported to quarters outside the main camp. The rest of us were allocated areas in huts of a varying nature. Some, contained rooms with a table, some chairs and perhaps eight double bunks around the perimeter. Other huts consisted of only one large room filled with as many double bunks as possible. Because I was wounded and needed some medical attention I was allocated a bunk in one of the former huts. There were no heating or washing facilities in any of these huts, so once a week we were marched to a compound containing washing and delousing facilities. Hot water was a luxury that was non-existent. No fresh clothes were available, so we wore the torn and tattered uniforms with which we had commenced the operation. We were paraded at dawn and in the early evening, to be counted, and as the cold autumn days gradually grew more bitter as winter approached, life became very unpleasant and tempers frayed. For the wounded there was no medical supplies except for some disinfectant and paper bandages and most important no anaesthetic for performing vital operations.'
'From September to December we lived on bare rations, two slices of black bread for breakfast and a bowl of sauerkraut soup and ersatz (substitute) jam in the evening plus a cup of coffee (made from acorns) with each meal. This was supplemented after November by a half share of a Red Cross parcel every week. These parcels consisted of tins of bully beef, fruit, biscuits, chocolate, coffee and cigarettes. The tins were used by the more ingenious to construct 'blowers' to heat water and to make soup.'
'After the Ardennes offensive the prison population was swelled by the arrival of many American prisoners-of-war, making life even more intolerable. Then in March, again, by prisoners having marched vast distances from camps in the Balkans.'
'The German guards were, without exception, men too old for active service and knowing that the end of the war was near, were tolerant and only too happy to exchange bread for cigarettes from the few non-smokers in our ranks.'
'Discipline was maintained by Regimental Sergeant Major Lord, once a feared member of the Grenadier Guards, having transferred later to 3rd Parachute Battalion.'
'At Christmas we were allocated some portions of horse meat and our spirits lifted by a camp concert.'
'As Winter gave way to Spring allied planes began appearing overhead and faintly in the distance could be heard the sounds of battle, which grew louder and more persistent day by day. Then one beautiful sunny day in April a Mosquito plane appeared over the camp, and executed a victory roll before disappearing over the horizon. Dawn the following day saw the camp devoid of enemy troops and the gates open. Some time later from over the brow of the hill came the sound of vehicles approaching. As they came into sight, they were recognised as friendly and a great roar erupted from the throats of the assembled troops, drowning out the sound of the engines. Freedom at last !!!'
Fred now lives in Australia, where he maintains the website of the British Airborne Forces Association (Vic), which contains a great many details about his military service. My thanks to him for passing on these details about his experiences.
Offsite links: British Airborne Forces Association (Vic) - http://www.bafa.org.au/ , and The Battle of Arnhem Archive.
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