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15 October 2014
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Chapter 15: A horse-drawn sleigh in the snow

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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

The Russians came. Obviously these pilots and aircrew had told about us, and the main body had arrived. We were put into a horse-drawn sleigh — that was another experience, a horse-drawn sleigh in the snow, Jock and I, and transported through the snow to somewhere else. It turned out to be a Russian field hospital, (which was only somebody’s home but they’d pushed the people out) in a terraced row of houses, and using it as a place to put their wounded. And they put Jock and I in there. Well, we weren’t very welcome. There were Cossacks in the road and they used to have parties of the evening with the Russian girl soldiers and it was very uncomfortable. We were in a room with Russian wounded, legless or armless, badly wounded, and they probably wondered who we were and why we were there, ‘nothing wrong with them’. But the language problem was so… it was very uncomfortable.

But we were given food and a chap came in the middle of the night, a dirty old man, and washed me, with a bowl and a flannel, washed me and then I held out my hands for a towel, and he indicated a sheet on the bed! That’s what I did. And I realised that was it. And then we got to know, after we’d been in there for a day or two, that the Russian system of feeding was every so many hours, say every 8 hours. So it didn’t matter what time of the day it was, if it was the middle of the night, you got your plate with a piece of pork, flat pork, slice of bread and vodka! That seemed to be the staple diet.

And then, unfortunately, Jock was obviously worse than I was and he was taken away from me. I was on my own. Oh, the language problem, especially with the girl soldiers, the nurses, the military nurses, they ignored me. They probably said ‘What the hell? Why is he here?’
Sue: But you still had frostbite at that point? You hadn’t recovered?
Ron: No, but nothing to show. I mean I hadn’t got … like Jock’s legs were gangrenous and horrible-looking things. No, I had feet and I could just hobble around, couldn’t do anything. I was in the way, which was worrying.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Sue Craig on behalf of Ron Redman and has been added to the site with his permission. Ron fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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