- Contributed by
- People in story:
- James Amos Taylor
- Location of story:
- Stalag 344 Lamsdorf
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 17 July 2005
Sunday 25th February. Had small fire in tin in truck, cut out hole in floor
but certain ones had the benefit of hot water as in the case with old
POWs I have come into contact with. The weaker sex as it were go to
the wall. Parcel situation very critical - two men in truck sick -
promised rations same day. Stomach a little out of order but not ill.
One slice of my loaf now remains.
Monday 26th February. Arrived at Chodau. Just dined on 1 slice of bread
and jam, very thin - ate Klim and sugar lumps
Tuesday 27th February. Still in Chodau Station. 1/4 loaf issued and some
margarine and sausage - Refugee trains pass here from Breslau laden
to overcrowding. Very sad scenes - old people and children, some
crying. But Kreig is Kreig. Only jam, tea, milk, butter and sugar now
left so the going is fairly acute as regards grub.
Wednesday 28th February. 40 km to camp so they, the Jerries, say but we
stand around here - weather sunny and warm.
Thursday 1st March. Started out at 3 a.m. and arrived at Nameldorf
station. At last we are off this train and once more on solid ground.
Air raids on way I was told held up our journey to a large extent.
Friday 2nd March. We had 4 km to march to Camp 13C, which was on a
hill. It is lovely and warm. We arrived in the camp at 1.20 a.m. and
150 of us were stuck into a barracks, rather crowed, but much better
than the train. Had two soups, very good, and 1 loaf between 3 1/2 men
- margarine and sugar ration.
Saturday 3rd March. Bread ration 1/6, sugar ration, two soups (macaroni)
morning coffee - sat about writing my diary. Had good night's sleep -
no fires allowed in barrack rooms here - told it was sabotage to break
timber away from barracks. But still some fools still cannot resist the
temptation - stove going in barracks, one bucket coal allowed for us -
snowing at intervals, then bright sun - air raid siren often and we have
to keep in barracks. Men who go out are liable to be shot. Two shots
already have run out but fired in the air. No parcel issue and my
cigarettes have run out.
Sunday 4th March. Morning coffee - 10 a.m. bread 1/6 per man, 1 tin
sardines, margarine and jam issue. 12 a.m. soup and potatoes. I had
double rations because I am one of the compound cleaners - had 3
good brews on stove - wood party went out - snow the greater part of
the day. News very good on Western Front and in Italy. Barrack room
quite warm now. Music by Greeks and Cypriots on mandolins. Two
men down in the dumps - ate rations as they were handed them. I
shaved at 4 p.m. My morale is very good, spent some time reading
from the New Testament. For tea had 2 slices with sardines and 1
slice with jam. Quite tasty. Anxious as to whether my wife knows of
my whereabouts. Smoking tea leaves but happy.
Monday 5th March. 4 soups (with extras included in 4) no margarine
issue or sugar. Had sardines for tea. Wrote home to my wife. Had two
brews of tea on stove. Only tea left now. Sleeping well - our bombers
over in strength last night.
Tuesday 6th March, Last year this time I was in Egypt at Quassasin -
previous to my leave in Cairo. As previous days.
Wednesday 7th March. Soup, sugar, bread and jam issue, also cheese
ration, air raid alarm frequent.
Thursday 8th March. As Wednesday. Men detailed to move. I am not
Friday 9th March. Jam, sugar, bread issue. Went before Stabsarzt - looks
like work ahead. Did some washing. Had good soup ration but very
poor in quality. Sleeping very well - feel OK.
Saturday 10th March. Washed and shaved by 9 a.m. John not too well.
Feel fine, not too hungry, waiting for bread to come then I can put
brew on. Maybe out by Monday 12th March to work. Smokes these
days out of the question. News: Yankees cross the Rhine and Russian
offensive near Kursten. Relief, I hope, will not be long now. God
speed it. Advances in Burma, and Pacific news very good - air raids
around here daily.
Sunday 11th March. Jam, cheese, margarine and 1/6 loaf. Good soap
issue, best yet. Plenty of meat in. News good, weather fine, not cold.
May move out to farm work tomorrow. Slept well.
Monday 12th March. Soup and potato issue. Barracks visited by Camp
Commandant. 10 cigarettes per man issued (Jerry cigarettes.).
Everyone in high spirits at the moment. Bread issue 1/8 loaf per man,
rather stiff but there it is, grin and bear it, not moved yet.
Tuesday 13th March. Day similar to previous, nothing to report, only
raids every day.
Wednesday 14th March. Good news, promise of American Red Cross
issue. 1 parcel between 3 men. Got 1 pair underpants, 1 Jerry shirt and
1 pair of pantoffelles in readiness to move out. We are supposed to
move out on Saturday to go on municipal work and bomb damage
very likely. Some rumours say farm work. Received promised parcel
4 p.m. 180 cigarettes, spreads and cocoa (American invalid parcels).
These were destined for Posen but now that Posen is no longer in
existence, we received permission to draw them. Men in good spirits
(60 cigarettes per man), bread issue 1/8 loaf, margarine and sugar, two
soups (Malta acqua). Made good drink of cocoa. Before going to
sleep listened to Australians and South Africans talking on fishing and
the kangaroo, the Dingo and Lyre bird, quite interesting. One South
African witnessed a man bitten by a green poisonous snake and a
native sucked out the poison and treated it with some leaf which he
procured from the bush. A secret handed down by the Zulus. Lovely
day, spring in the air.
Thursday 15th March. Lovely morning; made me feel like taking a long
walk in the country - but barbed wire prevented this. Bread issue was
mouldy, 1/6 load, had morning coffee, everyone polishing up. News:
main line to Frankfurt cut. Roll on Monty. We move out on Saturday.
Yesterday's cigarettes were Camel.
Friday 16th March. Double rations, spuds and soup. Had spuds for tea.
Lovely weather - had good walk around compound. American rations
getting low, especially brews. Raid on Wurzburg - very heavy one -
bombs heard from here 30 km away.
Saturday 17th March - St. Patrick's Day. No news from Jerry on war
situation; strange. Kit check, long raid alarm. Cabbage soup for
dinner, margarine, sugar and sausage issue, enough brews for 1/2 day
then eat and drink aqua. Smokes OK, still 32 left. Weather dull and
cool, some rain. Working parties keep going out but owing to
transport problems John and I stay here yet - chaps next to us having
Xmas pudding for tea - how my mouth waters, bread rations 1/7 per
Sunday 18th March. Church service in one of the huts. Air raid alarms
frequent. 1/8 man per loaf, nothing much to report.
Monday 19th March. Rations getting much tighter, 1/8 loaf, two soups,
still have ham and egg spread and butter left apart from the bare
Stalag rations. 3 p.m. told to get packed up and take our kit to be
searched in preparation for move very early Tuesday morning. Had
soup (packet) for supper then retired.
Tuesday 20th March. Rose at 3.30 a.m. Got kit from Stalag and set out to
Hammelburg station. Arrived station 6 a.m. Our destination was to be
Kitzingen. Travelled passenger to Bad Kitzingen, changed trains here
and boarded one to Sweinfurt. 7 km from Sweinfurt air alarm went.
Got out of train and walked down railway embankment across the
fields to archway, no planes heard just then. Civvies also went with
us. Train departed and left us stranded along with several civilians -
all our kit and food left on train - Guards in a dilemma - telephoned
to Sweinfurt to collect kit from coach. Marched 7 km into Sweinfurt,
lovely weather, nice walk through villages - bombs had been dropped
around here. Arrived in Sweinfurt station 10 a.m. Saw much damage
by bombs. Station badly knocked about, bodies still under debris so
we were told - waited until 12.30 for train. Ate two slices of bread
and egg and ham spread. Much damage to Sweinfurt, 2 p.m. arrive at
Boenshaff station to change and await another train to Kitzingen. Did
good trade in bread line and ate - managed to get cooked potatoes -
days food and eats OK. Jerry guards famished - they appeared to have
hardly any rations. Gave one some spuds, he ate them ravenously.
Finally got on train to Kitzingen, 50 km journey. Arrived at station at
8 p.m. Billeted in rubber factory. Beds straw on floor but quite warm
and good lights. Ate two slices of bread and spread, then retired. Tales
of destruction in Kitzingen. Many people killed in shelters -
population seemed panicky. On the fire alarm sounding all work stops
and people rush out into the woods around here at top speed.
Wednesday 21st March. Lovely day, up early and away into the woods.
Air raids, raiders overhead, returned after 3/4 hour. Working party went
out 7 a.m. Bread ration 1/6 civilian loaf and some jam. Order came
through that every British POW had to return to barracks and to stay
there - no explanation given - working party returns. All men now
confimed to barracks. My opinion is that there is a parachute landing
scare. No War news - air raid alert 9 a.m. till 10.30 a.m. - heard
planes overhead - no bombs dropped. Soup today pea soup. Working
parties clearing up bomb damage - factory here is not working.
Thursday 22nd March. Working in town Kitzingen. Returned to Lager for
dinner - job digging to find buried children in air raid shelter. 1 p.m.
overhead alert - dashed out to woods - people from all directions
making their way out as well. Dined in woods. 1.30 p.m. heavy raid
by American bombers on aerodrome 2 km away. Bombs made white
streaks as they sped down (white streaks are markers for bombs) -
terrific noise - 4 or 5 waves came over - no opposition. Taken to
aerodrome later to clear debris - buildings, kit and hanger runways
etc. Working on canteen, nearly got drunk on Vermouth from cellars -
cigarettes and bonbons, cigarette lighters etc. One Australian shot on
spot by Jerry officer for looting - found with 1,000 cigarettes on him.
Nine rounds fired into him before he died. Cookhouse hit - all
personnel on airfield had evacuated. Delayed action bombs dropped.
German WAAFs digging out what remained of their clothes, some
crying, some enjoying it. Came into Lager 8 to 8.30 p.m. Soup and to
Friday 23rd March. Working in town on gas mains. Air raid 1 p.m. for 1
hour. Returned to town on gas main job. Raid by one of our planes,
presumed a reconnaissance plane - circled airfield here. 3 men injured
- not sure whether from Ack Ack or civilian bomb thrown from
window. Ack Ack I presume. Returned to Lager 6.30 p.m. Had soup,
wash and to bed. People here all nerves - fleeing into country on
Siren fire alarm.
Saturday 24th March. Given shifting work at works near cemetery -
Cemetery badly hit - graves smashed up, big craters. Overhead alarm
12 p.m. No bombs dropped. Usual bread and two soups - feeling
better with working a little - getting sunburnt - sleeping well.
Sunday 25th March. Working at Station - little work done. Managed to
get petrol for lighter. Lovely warm day. Alert overhead 11.20 a.m.
Went out into fields and laid down till all clear then returned to Lager
for soup. Station after dinner but no work done. Finished 4.30 to 5
p.m. Had 5 potatoes and 1 litre of milk issued. News seems good.
Frankfurt surrounded 90 km from Numberg here and 22 km to
Wiirzburg, 3 km to Neustadt. River Main runs through here. Fire
alarm going now, 7 p.m. Had wash and shave and smoke then to bed.
I hope that the overhead alarm does not sound. John is working for
Gasworks. No bread trade yet.
Monday 26th March. Working on airfield runway filling and ramming
holes made by Yankees. Raid alarm (overhead 12.30 p.m.) lasted until
4.45 p.m. Lay in woods and saw our bombers raid place approx. 15
km away. Violent explosions heard. No alarm during night.
Tuesday 27th March. Working in town on station during morning - saw
that the bridge across the river had been prepared for demolition and
barriers fixed by using trees. War news that our armies are only 21
miles away. In afternoon working on airfield digging holes on runway
ready for blowing up. N.B. yesterday saw jet propelled plane take off
and undercarriage hit heaps of dirt ripping away one wheel. Landed 5
minutes later on one wheel - ran off runway, killed two Frenchmen
and injured four - also killing horse. Pilot uninjured - both engines
ripped away, weary sight to see the men lying around moaning. Had
boiled potatoes and soup for tea - extra to our soup.
Wednesday 28th March. Working at Bahnhof (railway station). Managed
to get plum jam (preserves) and tin of peas. Exchanged jam for 1/4
loaf. Weather on the cool side.
Thursday 29th March. Working on airfield doing practically nothing -
rather cold today - not much news of war - only rumours. Two
coffees today, may get extra bread ration tomorrow.
Friday 30th March - Good Friday in England. Working on excavations
for tank ditch - Jerry says it is a water trench. But I have doubts -
rousted by Jerry major (all men told to get down to it or be shot). Air
force seem to have taken charge of this operation - given 1/2i cigarette
per man when we finished for the day - cold day and rain.
Saturday 31st March. Working in town, moving wheat (Herrenbrau) did
little work. 9 a.m. siren sounded overhead alarms. Walked out into
surrounding fields and lay down till 11.30 a.m. Wiirzburg heavily
bombed - fighter aircraft overhead all morning (American). 12 a.m.
our aircraft machine-gunned a building near town - we scattered in all
directions and then returned to billet. I see bridge is now ready for
blowing and well guarded. Got 3 kilo loaf and some plum and rhubarb
preserve. No work tomorrow.
Sunday 1st April. Not working today but look like doing some marching.
Fire alarm sounded at 8 a.m. and fighter aircraft strayed close by our
Lager. Hospital in Stadt evacuating and also all people. War News:
Wiirzburg supposed to have fallen and our forces only 18 km away.
Air activity at the moment quiet. At 2 p.m. as I previously stated we
were given orders to move. Our destination was 6 km away, a village
I forget the name of. Artillery fire could be heard and rumours that
our armies were not very far away spread around. At a good pace we
once more hit the trail. I could see the aerodrome that now appeared
to be practically deserted - apart from a dog chasing a hare across the
field. The hare won the race. We halted once or twice on the way and
as I sat by the roadside I could not help admiring the scenery - belts
of pine trees stood out - the fields were lovely and green and the
weather was superb. It was a real spring day. Some Jerry tanks passed
us on their way to the front and many soldiers on foot. As I sat there a
solitary jet plane took off from the Flugplatz (airfield) and soared
away over our heads into the blue. I was quite struck by the village as
I entered. At the entrance stood a tower with an arch through which
we had to pass, reminding me of days, yes years ago, in the days when
barons owned the lands. The streets were cobbled and the houses half
timbered. Eager faces peered at us from every window as we marched
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