Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945 
 January & February 1945

We realised that the half hour notice was bluff and, after the 11 of us were more or less organised, we prepared a huge meal from the food which we were unable to carry and sat down to enjoy it.

January/February 1945. At 01.00 hours we had to parade at the outer gate ready to move off but after a few minutes we were told to return to our huts for a few hours. I think this confirmed to many of us our wishful thought that the move would not take place and throughout the night we looked out to the wire expecting to see the guards depart. During the night in our room we overhauled our packs, tried to get some sleep and Ted Walker made a sledge out of a wooden crate - this proved to be a great boon.
Finally after a restless night we were again paraded about 6am on Sunday in heavy snow and this time we were off. All those, numbering about 80, who were genuinely unfit to march were allowed by the Germans to remain behind and were taken to our destination by transport. Each man on passing through the gate was handed an American Red Cross parcel.
The long column was at last lined up outside the camp ready to march to Sagan. A considerable halt was made while the camp was searched for possible escapers; we must have presented a strange sight in all manner of uniforms with no uniformity, and carrying a variety of packs. Some were made with great care and precision others were just kit bags slung over the shoulder. Most fellows had a part share in a sledge and in the snowy roads this was the best method of transporting heavy loads.
After a weary wait until 9am the column moved off heavily escorted by armed guards who were also carrying full kit and who were in much lower spirits than the prisoners; we in fact were in quite good fettle because, without minimising what lay before us, we knew that all the hardship was a stage nearer our ultimate release and the end of the war.
We marched through Sagan early on the Sunday morning and it was clear that some of the civilian population had preceded us in the evacuation; here we met a phenomenon which recurred many times during the march. I refer to the apparent indifference with which we were regarded by townspeople and country people alike. We expected that considerable hostility would be shown to a body of terror gangsters' as the population had been schooled to look upon us but in fact the Sagan people showed no interest in us and probably at this stage of the war most Germans realised that the war was lost and their plight hopeless. We marched through the town and on past the railway sidings to the main camps at Karlswalde where we halted again.
Our disillusionment was bitter when we learned that the other camps were on the road ahead of us and that we were to march to a place called Spremberg more than 70 miles away - I think this was one of the worst moments of the trip when we finally realised that we really were going to do a forced march. Before we started our Senior Officer, Group Capt. MacDonald, uttered words of encouragement up and down the line and our Medical Officer, Capt. Montuuis, brought up the rear with a cart drawn by his assistants for any casualties en route. About midday a halt was made for about half an hour during which we had a snack and adjusted our packs - some fellows found the burden too heavy and ditched those items which they felt they could do without.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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