Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945
 February 1945

This Commandant - a Major in the Luftwaffe - was the not uncommon type in Germany who has to shout loudly even in polite conversation and during the lunch break on this second day he yelled at one of our officers who was sitting on a snow covered milestone; neither party could understand the other's language and we were afraid that our colleague was in dire trouble for some unknown crime. However when an interpreter was found, it transpired that the Major was merely advising the Officer not to sit on the cold snow as there was a danger of contracting piles.
All the way we had no difficulty in getting water from cottages along the route and on this second day we halted after 17 kilometres at a large farm in a village called Gross Selten near Priebus. Fortunately our two front men had found for us a little room adjoining a stable covered with straw on a brick floor and deriving some warmth from the stable. This was a great improvement on the previous night with access to a water tap where we could wash and water was boiled in the farm kitchen so that everyone got a cup of tea. After supper the 11 of us bedded down close together for warmth and we slept like logs until about 6am when we were able to get some cooked potatoes from one of the Polish workmen at the farm.
Quite early in the morning it was announced that no move would be made that day so we busied ourselves in making a small fire in the farmyard from bits of wood which were lying around. Soon the yard was dotted with little fires and crouching figures bending over the smoke endeavouring to do some elementary cooking in the few utensils which we had brought along.
I should have mentioned that on the second day we saw many tanks and lorries of Panzer divisions which had been driven back from the battle front and which had become so disorganised that they drove back into Germany as far as their petrol would take them and then stopped, absolutely cut off from their units. Some tanks were quartered with us at this farm on the third day and before long brisk bargaining was going on with the tank crews for their iron rations - mainly a kind of Ryvita crispbread called 'Knackebrot'. It really was an astonishing incident, but an even more surprising episode took place in the evening when the tank commander returned from a day foraging in the area with his small car; this he unwisely left unguarded in the yard with a plump goose on the back seat. Within an hour or so the goose was stolen, plucked, cooked and eaten [by the Germans] following which there was a tremendous row when he discovered his loss; all kinds of dire penalties were threatened but he was finally pacified by the gift of 200 cigarettes and a bar of chocolate.
The third night was spent in relative comfort for everyone compared with our first night and we were ready to move out from Gross Selten early on Wednesday morning. Some attempt was made each morning at a roll call but it was not very serious and did not delay our departure. Meanwhile wild rumours were circulating to the effect that a new Government had been formed in Germany and that our troops had crossed the Rhine; all this was completely without foundation and in fact we were totally without news throughout the march although a wireless set had been smuggled along with us. But this was for use at our next camp and was not used on the march as its component parts were carried by several individuals.
On Wednesday afternoon the weather improved greatly and the sun made a brief appearance; unhappily this spell of warm weather coincided with the first stretch of hilly country which we had to negotiate and we all suffered considerably.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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