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15 October 2014
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Chapter 14: Shot for pilfering!

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Ron Redman, 'Jock'
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 February 2006

When I came too and I looked round, I realised it was deserted. It was a village, deserted. And this wonderful girl came across the road, she was Polish, and she indicated to me that there was a comrade in one of the houses and took me in. And there was this chap, I can’t remember his name, he was a Scotsman, in a bed, with dreadful gangrene on his legs. He’d been shot. He’d been pilfering — he said something like sugar beet or something — and they’d shot him in the legs and left him there. He wasn’t with our Auschwitz group, he’d been in another camp, and they’d just left him there. And this girl, wonderful girl, had taken him, like a nurse I suppose she was, she’d taken it onto herself to look after him; bandaged him up, fed and watered him and indicated to me that I could stay there with him.

It was a lovely big house, obviously been evacuated by the German top brass; lovely furniture… obviously in a hurry, they’d left everything behind, clothes… I always remember seeing an accordian on the floor and thought I’ll have that, but I couldn’t play it. But that was the idea, it was a top brass home, Germans, and they’d gone.

The very next morning, I looked out of the window… I stayed with Jock and we had a chat. I cooked him something because there was food in the kitchen. He came from the north of Scotland, he lived in a railway crossing hut, if I remember rightly. But the poor devil, he…

But then one night, we had different groups of people coming in, because obviously they were retreating. And one night we had looters come in — they ignored us and just carried on looting. And then one night in came a German police unit. They were good. They realised who we were and what we were and why we were there and they looked at Jock’s legs and ordered their doctor to give him some attention. And he gave him the best of attention that he could, with fresh bandages and his legs cleaned up. And then they moved on.

And then the next morning when I looked out, I could see a tank in the road with a red star on it, and I thought: Ruskies! In came the Russians one night, in the dark with torches flashing at Jock and I, and obviously asking who we were and what we were doing there. And with the language problem, it was so difficult. But I indicated Jock’s legs and that I had problems, not so visual as Jock’s. But then something in my conversation must have given some idea we were Air Force men. They said something about Hurricanes and Spitfires, and I nodded, I suppose, I wish I’d never done that because they thought we were pilots who’d been shot down. They indicated that there were going to get some Russian pilots to come and talk to us. Spitfires! And of course we couldn’t convince them that we weren’t pilots and, in any case, it seemed an advantage!

In came the pilots, the next day, all smiles and cigarettes and things. I don’t think we convinced them, but I don’t think we didn’t un-convince them. They chatted and shouted and talked and smoked, and away they went. I’m just trying to think how we got out of that house.

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