Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945
 September 1944 to Winter 1944

He acted on the spur of the moment by climbing on top of a lorry and pulling a tarpaulin over himself but he was quite unprepared with no papers, dressed in uniform and was soon recaptured.
Life in German POW camps has been fully described in many books so I shall only record a few personal recollections of my own experience. First I must mention the very high morale of our camp in spite of conditions and this was due in no small degree to the possession of a clandestine radio receiver which never failed to bring us the BBC news. Indeed I can recall only one short period when spirits sank temporarily and that was in December 1944 when the German attack in the Ardennes came at a time when we expected imminent release.
During one year at Belaria we were on only one occasion allowed out for a walk under guard after having given our parole which was authorised by the Senior British Officer. While we were away from the camp a note was found in which the Officer concerned stated his intention of killing himself during the walk due to the unrequited love which he felt for another officer. The Germans quickly shepherded us all back to camp and took the threat so seriously that the officer was put forward for repatriation which was approved - incidentally we were never again permitted out of the wire for a walk. This officer had never to my knowledge shown any homosexual tendencies - indeed I never heard of any case of this nature in camp - and we were surprised at his repatriation which was usually only approved for aircrew with very serious injury.
The thought has often recurred to me that this may have been a clever and successful attempt to deceive the Germans but I never heard whether this was true. I should add that all candidates for repatriation had to satisfy a Swiss committee - Switzerland being the Protecting Power under the Geneva Convention on POW.

Autumn/Winter 1944. For a few months at Belaria we had the use of a field for Rugby, Soccer and Baseball but this was withdrawn about September 1944 in order to build additional huts for American Airmen who were suffering heavy losses. During the summer however, and due mainly to the initiative of the few Australian Officers, two cricket matches were organised as Test Matches between England and Australia; this involved much hard labour in preparing a wicket from the rough ground but it was well worth the effort. I played in both matches and they were great occasions with the whole camp lining the field with great enthusiasm - one of the matches resulted in a win for England by one run and I do not remember playing in any other game where so much excitement was generated.
There were other joyful moments when plays were performed and concerts given - even a splendid lecture on the battle of Waterloo given by a Belgian officer - but I must not give the impression that life in POW was fun. It is natural to remember the good times but there were many more bad times with homesickness, worry about loved ones at home and depressing war news. I believe it was essential to keep oneself occupied and most of us succeeded in various ways.
I have mentioned in my diary the names of my room mates in camp and what splendid comrades they were; we had a good spirit in the room and this contributed a great deal to our well-being.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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