Sunday 22"d April 1945
Day of liberation. At 6am this morning awakened by the cries of "The
Russians are here". It was an officer in a staff car who carried
out an inspection of the camp then returned to his H.Q. Between 8am and
gam we were visited by an armoured column who were loudly cheered by all
American and British personnel. The Russian P.O.W's left the camp to join
their own forces whilst we stayed in our compounds awaiting developments.
Our C.O General Ruger left camp to arrange matters with the Russian authorities.
Wing Commander Collard was thus left in charge. British and American personnel
behaved in an orderly manner but French and Italian's were a disgusting
mob causing our authorities no end of trouble. Gunfire continued all day
and German aircraft put in several appearances but did no damage as fire
from the woods close by quickly chased them away. Went to bed expecting
to be awake all night.
(Note: General Ruger (Norwegian) was the senior camp officer and W/CDR
Collard became senior officer primarily for the RAF.
23' April 1945
Spent a poor night's sleep chiefly because of aircraft strafing and gunfire
from heavy artillery as well as mortar and machine gun fire. Was on picket
duty from 9am until 11am. Still gunfire all around and many Russian aircraft
overhead. Received half a cup of really good soup and 1/10 loaf of bread
as well as a ration of butter. Russian officer promised us a good supply
of food for remainder of our stay here. Water problem not too good as
the only pump available was being beset by a huge queue. Took a long time
to get off to sleep tonight which is very unusual for me.
24th April 1945
Still awaiting the link up but news was reassuring as it was evidently
only a matter of hours. Still lots of Russian aircraft overhead mostly
Airocobras. The Offlag, American and our own compounds were opened to
us all today which gives us lots more freedom. Much appreciated this fact.
Good soup, today again half a cup but potato ration much better indeed.
25th April 1945 Wednesday
Most monotonous day so far. Kept waiting for things to happen but uneventful.
26th April Thursday
As Wednesday only Russians say link up has taken place.
27th April Friday
S.B.O (Senior British Officer) goes to see Russians to request our transport
to Allied H.Q. This is not possible. Informed that the Russian permanent
staff are in charge of us now in place of the operational units. Told
by Russians that because of a large German unit retreating this way we
were nearly evacuated during the night. Much heavy artillery and small
arms fire all around camp. American war correspondents observed in Luckenwalde
on their way to Berlin. They promised they would visit us on their way
back. Major of the Russian repatriation board arrived in camp this morning
and officers of the U.S First Army reported to be in Luckenwalde. Going
to bed much cheerier tonight.
28th April Saturday
Russian girl Doctor arrived at 2215 hours last night and wanted particulars
of sick by 0600 hours this morning. Some of the lads went out on a walking
tour this morning and all received plenty of support from Russian sentries
and patrols whenever anything was required. Don't think much of the officers
conduct but I expect they are as fed up as I am and some are younger than
me which is maybe the only excuse I can offer. A fair ration of soup today
but according to paper there is supposed to be a lot of meat in it but
I didn't find a bit. Still I enjoyed it very much as it was good thick
pea soup. My trousers ripped across the seat so I had to put a light blue
patch right across. On the whole a wet and miserable day.
29th April Sunday
Late last night a convoy of 50 lorries carrying food and clothing arrived
with a staff to look after our camp headed by Captain Medvidw. Lorries
were still being unloaded this morning. He decided our quarters were intolerable
and said he hoped to move us to a better camp. This camp was found and
evidently is a beautiful camp but lacks water and lighting as yet. This
news seemed to prepare us for a longer stay than we expected. Our government
has been informed and the next move must come from them. The N.C.O Lager
containing Stalag Luft 7 personnel beat the Offlag 4-2 at football.
30th April Monday
General Famen from Marshall Koniev's H.Q says he hopes to move us to the
Adolf Hitler Lager as soon as possible it being a much superior camp and
would be worth the difficulties if we stayed here for any length of time.
This news seemed to indicate a long stay here which has us all fed up
but the General says it has to go thro'
Diplomatic channels and we must bide our time. Wally and Pat are thinking
of leaving and making for home.
1" May Tuesday
Pat and Wally left at 0710 this morning. Had breakfast with them and after
giving each my address bid them good luck and all the best. Wally didn't
seem so keen but away he went. Had to go to the funeral of a Polish Officer
this afternoon.* Uncomfortable all thro' as it was an R.C service and
all commands were in the Polish language. Choir was very good. Camp being
thronged with Italians and I would gladly be rid of them. Peas have an
adverse effect on me as they are blowing me up with wind. Trying to walk
it off. Listened to the six o'clock news (7 o'clock our time) and it seems
Germany is ready to surrender. Fairly large battle going on all around
us today and artillery fire has been heavy the past 24 hours. had my first
hot shower since Feb 8th today. What a joy it was too.
(*Note: Because we had been members of a Polish Squadron it was assumed
we could speak Polish hence the reason I had to go to the Polish officer's
funeral. The young American officer in charge of our squad was in a somewhat
similar position but couldn't even understand the commands so we had to
whisper them to him. The Wally mentioned was actually a Pole real name
Waclaw Dworokwsky who wasn't keen on giving names etc. to the Russians
so I supplied him with a route to the Elbe at Wittenberg from a large
scale Wehrmacht map I had acquired earlier.
2nd May Wed
Listened to British 9 o'clock news and couldn't help laughing at all the
arrangements for V day. After listening to the tirade for a few days ago
of how quickly P.O.W's would be got home it is rather a let down to find
we are still here after ten days of liberation. First thing when I awoke
this morning was to hear that Hitler was dead and Doenitz was in command.
Big battle raged all around last night and this morning but it seems to
have finished now as the Russians are all moving west and have taken 120,000
prisoners from this area. Heard the Germans in Italy had surrendered and
that Lubeck had fallen. Our advance guard had to be withdrawn from the
Adolf Hitler Lager because of the refugee trouble and the danger of our
men being hurt as they have arms and we are not allowed by our own C.O
to possess them.
3rd May Thurs
More Italians arriving and the lads are buying their horses for a song.
More Russian columns passed westwards mostly horsedrawn. Lager has become
a mass of horses of all kinds. B.B.C news good. Best news so far is the
arrival of two Yank war correspondents who said nothing was known about
us until 4 days ago when four Yanks from this camp reached the Elbe. They
couldn't get thro' sooner because of the big battles taking place all
around us. They are taking all particulars and flying them to General
Eisenhower and London tomorrow. A war correspondent P.O.W Captain Beatty
is leaving with them and taking nominal roles etc. Glad to see something
might happen at last. Rations for today very poor indeed and most boys
are thinking of striking out on their own. Can't blame them as life here
is far from good.
4th May Friday
Spent most of the morning in bed and cooking. We made scones out of an
issue of flour. More American officers arrived this morning and said we
would be evacuated within the next 3 or 4 days. This news has greatly
increased all our spirits. However greatest news of all was when I heard
on the six o'clock home service news that we had been liberated. What
a relief after waiting for 12 days to hear it on the news. Go to bed highly
jubilant as we expect first removal lorries in the morning.
5th May Sat
Eagerly awaiting lorries - George has to go to Luckenwalde to bake bread.
First time we have to split up since P.O.W's which was unfortunate as
we wished to stay together until we reached home. 1300 hours first American
ambulances arrive. Four trucks arrive later with K rations. Made scones
in the afternoon. Did a night shift of work from 12-2am.
6th May Sunday
George arrived back at 0800 hours. French had taken over bakery. Evacuation
of Americans begin with us standing by. Evacuation stopped by Russians
and some trucks sent away empty. Everybody as mad as hell as the Russian
instructions haven't reached them. (Note: George had been selected to
go to the bakery because he had some experience whilst on vacations from
college with a friend's father's bakery.
7th May Monday
Registered with Russians. Negotiations still going and more trucks arriving.
Finally this evening an American Officer and Russian officials set off
for Marshall Koniev's H.Q. Awaiting their return. Caustic remarks made
against BBC commentators nattering about V.E day and so on.
8th May Tuesday
Boys streaming to trucks but nothing official through yet. Russians order
trucks to return empty. Boys leave camp in all directions. Some return
later, others are interned etc. Barracks well below strength. Heard Churchill
and the King.
9th May Wednesday
100 Russian trucks arrive. Don't know who for but seem to be either for
the Norge officers or ourselves. Camp being cleared up by ourselves but
French and Italian quarters still in filthy condition. Must close narrative
because of lack of paper. What I thought would be a little story of wonderful
happiness has gradually deteriorated into a gloomy history of several
thousand Allied ex P.O. W's.
To complete this story I should say that we eventually ended up
in the Adolf Hitler Lager which was at least first class accommodation
for us. It was stated to have been quarters for S.S troops. For myself
I was admitted to the camp hospital on 18/5/45 because my left knee had
blown up once again. It had given me a lot of trouble on the march from
Stalag Luft 7 at Bankau near Kreuzberg to Luckenwalde ie from 19/1/45
- 8/2/45. Our own medical officer was going to remove my knee cap and
pin the leg straight but suggested I allow he Russian M.O to do so as
he was very much more skilled than'9 was - I agreed and the operation
was fixed for 1pm on Sunday 20th May 1945. However, the Russian trucks
arrived at 0500 that morning and took us to the river Elbe at Wittenberg
where we were handed over to the Americans. We were taken to Halle by
truck and then to Brussels by Dakota. We finally arrived by plane in the
South of England on 26/5/45 and were taken to Cosford near Wolverhampton
for medicals, kitting out and so on. We arrived there at one o'clock in
the morning but the staff did a fantastic job and I was on the train for
Scotland at ten o'clock that same evening. I arrived home finally shortly
after 9 am on 28/5/45.