|17.1.45||Orders received to
evacuate the camp because of the Russian advance towards the
West. Stood by all day with, kit packed.
All Red Cross parcels withdrawn from stores. Columns of
retreating Germans pass the camp. Horse drawn wagons main form
of transport. Bitterly cold - sub-zero temperatures. Russian
P.O.W.'s are moved into our new compound. Small issue of
cigarettes to each man.
|18.1.45||Rations issued -
1/7th tin of meat, 2/3rd loaf of bread, 1/8 lb margarine. 1/4 lb
honey, 2 cheeses. This to last two and a half days if we march -
4 days if transport is by train. All contents of food parcels
shared amongst our combine of 18. My share - tin of cocoa,
packet tea, tin sausages and some margarine.
Heavy air raid in vicinity of camp. Latest rumour - Germans leaving us here after all. Confusion in the minds of many. We may move this evening. Took to my bed at 22.00 hours.
|19.1.45||03.30 hours ordered
to parade at 05.00 hours. Bitterly cold - nothing but ice and
snow. Moved off at 07.00 hours - some 1500 POWs, guards, guard
dogs and 2 field kitchens.
Passed through Kreutzburg mid morning - unaware there were some three and a half thousand Red Cross parcels in the vicinity. Column moving very slowly - 5 minutes rest every 2 hours.
Arrived Kronstaat 12.30 hours. Items of kit left by the roadside at every stop., Mainly books, musical instruments and other bulky items. Some already finding this march difficult. Those in poor shape find a place in the sick wagon at the rear of the column.
16.00 hours - reached Winterfeld. Shelter found in barns and farm outbuildings. Spent night in hay loft. Main meal - bread and honey.
|20.1.45||Expected to move at
08.00 hours but guards had us out by 04.00 hours. Moved off
06.30 hours. Bitterly cold - fingers and ears quickly numbed.
10.30 hours - arrived Karlsruhr. Refugees choking roads in all
directions. Some guards disappear. Whole party accommodated in
brickworks. Filthy dirty. Opportunity given to light fires and
brew coffee and tea. Issue from field kitchens. Distance so far
today - 12Km. At 21.30 we moved off again. Orders to cross the
River Oder by 08.00 hours next day as the bridge was due to be
blown. Temperature about freezing point.
suffering from hunger and fatigue. Reached Oder at 05.15 and
crossed in single file. Rumours of rail transport soon. 07.00
hours reached Rosenfeld. No accommodation available - 7 Km. to
proper barracks and then transport. 10.00 hours - Walchaven -
almost exhausted. We had covered 41 Km. in some 24 hours.
Shelter in Stables and cow sheds. Stench forgotten as we
welcomed the warmth. Issued with 40 dog biscuits and cup of
coffee (acorn). My feet are sore. 48 hours rest? Abandoned most
of my kit including 1 of 2 blankets.
|22.1.45||Rumour that the
Russians have crossed the Oder and we must march 03.00 hours.
Sick - about 40 - being left in hospital at Walchaven. Reluctant
to move but a few warning shots fired around the stable area
prompted a mass movement outside. Civilians in neighbourhood
preparing to move as well. Women in tears. Passed through
Schonfeld. Next shelter a barn at 11.00 hours. Cases of
frostbite. Distance marched 21 km.
|23.1.45||Food issue - half
packet Knackercrot wafer, 1/8 lb margarine.
Marched from 08.45 to 11.30 hours. Germans prepared to exchange bread and cigarettes for our soup ration. Next stop Hansen (Barns) - half cup of soup. Distance today 19 km.
|24.1.45||A complete day for
rest. Rations - 1/7th loaf, 1/10 lb marge and 2 cups of soup.
|25.1.45||Marched off 08.00 hours. 13.30
hours - Wintersdorf. Barnyard accommodation. Soup issue.
Distance 21 Km.
|26.1.45||Half cup of soup. More rumours
of transport provision. Sick queue extremely long.
|27.1.45||Ration - 2/5th loaf, 1/10 lb
marge, Marched off at 11.00 hours. Still bitterly cold. Boots
frozen solid. 17.00 hours Perfindorf. Distance 21 Km. Half cup
|28.1.45||04.00 hours - prepare to move
off by 05.30. Reached Standorf at 12.15 hours. Half cup soup and
a couple of potatoes. Unbearably cold even in the loft, Germans
say we stay for 2 or 3 days and then continue by train.
|29.1.45 to 30.1.45||Food issue - 7 biscuits, 1/2 lb
margarine 1/16th can meat, half cup soup. We match tonight as
transport is waiting. On road at 18.30 hours. Temperature -
freezing. Impossible to keep water in a bottle. 20.00 hours -
issued 2 packets biscuits. Weather worsening. Marching in a
blizzard. Men at breaking point. Fatal to drop out now and be
left to die in this. Army vehicles snow bound. Forced to help
move them. A dead German by the roadside. 05.15 we reached
Javer. Still marching. 07.30 - Peterneiz. Guards in bad mood.
Only barns in which to sleep. Distance during worst conditions
so far - 25 Km. Change in diet - half cup porridge.
|31.1.45||Ration issue - 1/5th loaf. 1
packet biscuits 1/10 lb margarine. Two and a half cups of soup,
2/3rd cup dry oats and 2 spoonsful of coffee grounds. Report to
the M.0. Septic blister on foot. Moved into the barn used as a
sick bay. All sick being moved next day. Polish people with whom
we came in contact showed much compassion. 2 cups of porridge
and onions - a real banquet!
|1.2.45||Main column moved off at 08.00.
Transport for the sick at 09.00 hours - 1 steam engine pulling 2
lorries and a trailer. So many aboard, it proved very
uncomfortable. An added inconvenience - the Kommandant's dog. 14
Km. to Prossnitz where we arrived at 13.00 hours. Main group
already there and usual number of small fires burning - a
cheering sight. DEFINITELY NOT MOVING until transport is
provided. Rations: 2/5th loaf bread, 1/7th lb margarine, half
cup porridge and 2 raw potatoes.
|2.2.45||Little improvement in condition
of my foot - confined to makeshift bed. Weather improved
considerably. A quick thaw - mud and slush replaces ice and
snow. 2 issues of soup from field kitchen. Watches and rings
bartered for bread, onions and potatoes.
|3.2.45||No signs of moving. Small issue
of bread and margarine also soup.
|4.2.45||Information to the effect we
move tomorrow as transport awaits us at Goldberg. Rations - 1/3
loaf, 1/6 lb marge, 1 spoonful sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup
barley, 1/3 tin meat, 1/2 cup porridge oats. How long will this
have to last?
|5.2.45||06.45. Column marched off in a
slight drizzle. My foot is better but marching is a strain. How
different the countryside looks now the snow has gone. 8 Km to
the station - arrived 10.00 hours. What a relief to see the
TRAIN. No first class - just cattle trucks. 54 men in each truck
so we were very restricted. Squat or stand - cramped in one
position. Doors closed,and bolted. How many days of this hell?
Train moved off at noon. passed through Liegnitz. Tempers frayed
- dejected and miserable. Conditions in truck becomes unbearable
as men urinate, vomit and excrete in odd corners. Feeding
ourselves on raw oats, porridge and flour.
As night fell we were shunted into a siding at Sagan (Stalag Luft III). No movement for hours.
|6.2.45||Moved from siding back to main
line. Start, stop, start, stop. Carriage doors opened at
intervals and we were allowed to stretch our legs. Buckets of
water provided. Food and tempers getting short.
|7.2.45||My last slice of bread has
gone. Train never seems to travel for more than an hour before
grinding to a halt. Half cup coffee per man. Protests about
shortage of food to Germans, 30 trains ahead of us waiting to
pass through a large town ahead. Many men being taken to
hospital truck. Medical Officer and Staff unable to cope. Now
eating flour and oats - a sickening concoction.
|8.2.45||In a siding at Luckenwalde. The
end of the line for us - confirmed by Camp Leader. A glorious
morning - Spring is here. Rumours - 20,000 prisoners already in
the camp. We are not expected. No food parcels. 11.30 Marched
the 2 Km. to Stalag IIIA and searched as we passed through the
gates. 400 of us to be housed in Barrack 9 North. No bunks -
straw bales on the floor. Find a space and stake your claim.
Food soon available - barley soup and potatoes and small ration
of bread. All nationalities here in separate compounds. -
Americans, Poles, French, Yugoslavs, Russians.
So begins life in my third camp but the end must be near.
Notes: marge=margarine: lb = pound weight = 454g