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

In addition our route lay along forest tracks which were very rough and which made sledge pulling very difficult. By this time the guards were becoming somewhat distressed, which was not surprising as they were heavily laden and were older men than us although they had better food and accommodation at night. Just before dusk we marched through a fairly large town called Birkenstedt and at the far end we were directed into another large farmyard, the biggest and most prosperous we had yet seen.
This time we were not allowed to commandeer quarters in the first come first served principle but we were all lined up in the yard before being released to find billets in the barns and stables; however we were again fortunate and found a warm corner with the horses in their stable. Also we quickly made friends with the Polish stableman who brought us potatoes and in general helped us during our stay with him; in his case it was not bribery but a genuine friendly feeling which we reciprocated to the full.

March 1945. We were up early on the Thursday morning endeavouring to get a fire going for a hot drink and also to wash under the one tap available to the entire crowd in the cowshed. Our Polish friend brought us cooked potatoes and by delving into our stocks we managed to produce quite a good meal which was enlivened by the announcement that we were to rest for the day. The Germans made a very small issue of bread and great efforts were tried to bribe the guards and farm people for more bread; however our group was lucky enough to contact the farmer's wife or sister who provided a variety of food in exchange for a tin of Nescafe which she greatly coveted.
During the night four officers made a break and we were anxious about them for many weeks as nothing was heard of them but eventually we learned that they were all caught soon after escape and taken South to Nuremburg with the sick.
At the parade on Friday morning the Americans were separated from us and marched off about 4 kilometres to Muskau where they en-trained for Nuremberg. The remainder, mainly RAF but including representatives from many different countries, followed the Americans into Muskau where we were told tour march was to continue. By now the snow had disappeared so sledges were abandoned and everything had to be carried on our backs. A halt was made in the main square of Muskau where considerable interest was shown by the population but absolutely no hostility was shown.
About midday we left Muskau at the start of our most difficult march as the Germans would not allow hourly rests but forced us on in warm weather to reach our destination before dusk. This was a village called Graustein where we arrived in rather bad shape after a long day carrying our kit 24 kilometres; on this occasion we were split up into groups of 100 and sent to different farms where most of us had plenty of room in good barns with lots of straw. Our group was provided with hot water for drinks and after a rough meal of bread and bully beef we soon fell asleep.
By this time my feet were very painful with blisters and my back was causing a lot of trouble but I knew that we only had 7 kilometres to do on Saturday so I thought I could do it. I did complete the journey but it was the hardest effort of all to get through the two hours to Spremberg which we reached about midday. There we were taken to a big Panzer barracks, where we joined the East Camp prisoners from Sagan who had followed a different route and where we were given barley stew which was the first decent food provided by the Germans since leaving Belaria.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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