Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945 
 25 May 1945 to 28 May 1945

In spite of the discomfort it was an interesting trip which took us over Kassel and after a comparatively short flight we landed at a big air base near Brussels. There we were given a big welcome especially from some cheerful friendly British girls working for the Red Cross and the YMCA.
We were driven into Brussels, which showed little sign of damage, and we were set down at St Anne's barracks where we were warmly greeted by a unit of the Canadian Army. Their organisation was superb and I heard nothing but praise for the kindness and efficiency of the Canadians in getting us ready to go home. We were taken first to the clothing store where we were given new underclothing and other articles of dress to replace the tattered things which most of us wore.
After a mild de-lousing and a shower we put on our clean clothes and were led to a wonderful Red Cross depot where we were invited to help ourselves to chocolate, cigarettes, pullovers, handkerchiefs, toilet articles etc. Then to our billets where each man was given 800 francs and told he could do as he pleased in the city that night.
After a splendid dinner in the mess and quite a lot of champagne the four of us (Ted, Ray, Johnny and myself) decided to go into town; we were not entirely sober but I think the circumstances were exceptional and our state was probably due more to excitement than drink. However as the evening wore on our sobriety did not improve and I have a vague memory of trying to get on a train at the main railway station, presumably in the hope that it would take me home. But we got a lift safely back to barracks and we were all in good shape in the morning for breakfast at nine o'clock.
The morning was spent in the rest room reading and waiting for our turn to be called but nothing happened until lunch time when we were told to parade outside ready to leave. Naturally no time was wasted and we were driven to another airfield further out of Brussels than the one at which we had landed on the previous day. This was a huge airfield with many types of aircraft and very heavy traffic. We had to wait for some time but eventually boarded a Lancaster into which 24 of us were packed and we were at last off on the final stage.
It was a very bumpy flight but the Lancaster seemed much more stable than the Dakota so that no one was adversely affected. I think that the flight was something of an anticlimax as whereas we expected to be excited at seeing the shores of England, in fact we were tired and I was actually asleep when we crossed the coast at Eastbourne.
We landed at Oakley near Oxford and our troubles were over; an ATS girl escorted every POW into the hanger for tea and then we were driven to RAF Bicester for the night.
The next day, Sunday, we travelled in a special train to Cosford where we were de-briefed by Intelligence Officers on the circumstances of our crash and capture, given ration coupons, leave passes, travel warrants and generally treated very sympathetically. All this was carried out speedily and efficiently so that on Monday, May 28 1945, I was in another special train to Paddington on six weeks leave.
Moira met me there about 3pm and the long ordeal was over.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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