had no Russian escort and were warmly greeted by all the troops
when we passed - it was a weird experience.
While passing through the town of Luckenwalde, we came across
a small group of German prisoners under one Russian guard and
they included one prison camp guard who had been particularly
unpleasant; they had clearly been walking for some time and were
in poor shape but I have to confess that it gave us all great
pleasure to see our once proud captors in the reversed position.
The town was not greatly damaged, it was after curfew with hardly
a soul about and all the shutters were down, giving the town
a dead appearance. And thus we returned to our Carpenters shop
after a fruitless but interesting day out of the wire.
That night I was so tired that I slept solidly for 12 hours and
apparently I was not disturbed by heavy gunfire throughout the
night, which was explained on the radio on Thursday. It was announced
that a huge pocket of German resistance SE of Berlin had been
finally cleared up with huge numbers of casualties and prisoners.
This came as quite a shock as we had not appreciated the scope
of operations in the area and it looks as if we were even luckier
than we thought in having been unscathed in the proximity of
such a battle. Certainly we did not expect so much resistance
locally so long after the Russians first appeared nearly two
May 4 1945.
Big plans are now afoot for extension of the works to be done
by the carpenters and Ted has been taken into Luckenwalde to
organise supplies. If this does happen I am to run the office
which will have to be set up but it all smacks too much of a
permanent or long term nature and I wish we could hear news of
our return home. With the cessation of military activity in the
area surely we can now hope for some move in that direction.
May 5 1945.
Morale reached a new low when it was seen that no progress had
been made in any direction and men in scores left the camp in
the hope of reaching American forces across the River Elbe. Then
some American armoured cars arrived to prepare for our evacuation
and naturally the whole atmosphere changed when word got about
that we would begin the evacuation. Plans were made for 70 lorries
to be split pro rata between British and Americans with priority
going to those POW who had been longest in captivity. A complication
ensued when the Russians stated that they would not agree to
the evacuation of Norwegians with us but it was arranged to smuggle
them out in our lorries as we had a particular admiration for
our Norwegian allies.
As for our group of four in the workshop, Ted was committed to
remain as one of the essential personnel until all British and
Americans had been evacuated so the other three of us had no
hesitation in deciding to stay with him until the end as we had
been together for so long.
At this stage our food supply was precariously low so Ted and
I went out on a private foraging expedition to see if we could
find something for a celebration. I should explain that although
Russian guards were posted at all the gates with orders to prevent
anyone leaving the camp, they did not interfere with anyone leaving
by the many holes in the wire - apparently their orders only
covered the gate!!