Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945 
 15 May 1945 to 23 May 1945

All French POW have moved to the Hitler Youth camp, but judging by its state when we left it they will be very uncomfortable. British and American personnel have all vacated the prison camp itself and now occupy the former German quarters outside the wire; our total number is about 2250 and at least living conditions are thereby considerably improved.
Our former barracks have now received a huge influx of civilian refugees who have invaded the Stalag; men, women and children of various nationalities are herded together in frightful squalor and sanitary arrangements have largely failed. With the weather approaching a heat wave there must be serious danger of an epidemic.
Our little group is still in the workshop detached from everyone and very glad to be so; we are probably living as comfortably as anyone in the Stalag and this has contributed to maintaining our morale. We get a fair number of jobs to do in the shop and on Saturday morning there was a rush order for four coffins from the Hospital. Neither Ted nor Ray had ever done any undertaking work but they set to even calling on Johnny and me to lend a hand and on Sunday the contract was fulfilled; although a bit rough the coffins really looked quite respectable.
About 40 German prisoners are employed in the Stalag for most of the dirty work such as digging out the sewage beds and they are well treated as regards food and lodging. I could not get any satisfaction in witnessing harsh treatment of Germans unless I knew that they had formerly been brutal to our own chaps.
We have had a little trouble with Italians in the workshop, following the visit of an Italian officer a few days ago to request the use of the shop for the manufacture of crosses to be placed on the graves of Italians in the cemetery. Normally we would have refused to grant any favours to an Italian but for such a purpose we could not refuse and Ted gave permission for two such men to work in the shop; the discussion was carried out in French with some difficulty as the Italian Officer's command of the language was as poor as mine. More and more Italians have appeared in the shop to do a variety of jobs and yesterday we had a real row so that today there are only two Italians working here.
Our diet these days is very starchy as it consists entirely of potatoes, bread and dried pea soup but at least there is plenty and after recent experiences we are not complaining.

Wednesday, May 23 1945. (at Halle) Towards the end of last week the situation was one of miserable stagnation and there is little to report of any note except, incredible as it may seem, a dance was held on Saturday night. None of us attended but during that evening the news for which we had been waiting desperately came completely out of the blue. An announcement from the SBO said that an agreement had been reached between American and Russian Officers regarding exchange of prisoners and that we were to leave on the following day - Sunday, May 20. We went to bed that night excited but a little anxious as we had been disappointed so often.
However about 10 o'clock next morning, Russian lorries rolled in and the camp siren was sounded as a signal for everyone to prepare for departure. We had no time to put the workshop in good order before leaving so that it was not in a good state when we handed it over to six Dutchmen; it had been a comfortable billet for three weeks but we had no regrets at leaving.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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