Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945 
 2 May 1945 to 5 May 1945

We 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 weeks ago.

Friday, 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.

Saturday, 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!!


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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