- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mr Albert Bernard Frisby
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 July 2005
WARRANT OFFICER A.B.FRISBY
This story was submitted to the People's War site by Jas from Global Information Centre Eastbourne and has been added to the website on behalf of Mr Frisby with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions
In the late evening of the 7 November 1941, 169 Aircraft of Bomber Command took off for an operation against Berlin and a further 55 to Mannheim, this despite the meteorological forecast of extremely severe weather over the continent.
Sergeant Frisby (later W.O.) was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in a Wellington Ic of 75 (New Zealand) Squadron in which he had already completed previous operations over Dunkirk, Cologne, Kiel, Essen, Nuremburg, Hamburg and others. This time Berlin was the target.
After 3 hours of battling through pitch black cloud covered territory Berlin was reached but severe icing up caused the loss of one engine and after jettisoning the bomb load, turned for home.
Hoping at least to reach the North Sea the aircraft limped on losing height and direction until it crashed into high ground east of Düsseldorf.
Of the crew of six, one was killed and three badly injured. The navigator and Sergeant Frisby both escaped more or less unscathed and after capture by the local military were taken next day to a Luftwaffe Airfield in the vicinity, the others to hospital.
The next destination was Dulag Luft the Luftwaffe POW interrogation camp at Oberursel near Frankfurt-on-main.
Sgt. Frisby then started his further three and a half years of captivity.
First at Stalag VIII.B. at Lamsdorf Lower Silesia for about four months, then the new Luftwaffe controlled camp Stalag Luft III at Sagan roughly 12O Kms S.E. of Berlin for the next fifteen months. It was here that the first American air force POWs arrived in early 1943.
The RAF NCO prisoners at Sagan were then sent eastwards through East Prussia to a place called Heyderkrug near Memel on the Baltic close to the Lithuanian border.
This camp Stalag Luft VI was again controlled by the Luftwaffe and captivity lasted here for about fifteen months until the approach of the Russian forces when the camp was evacuated to Torun in Poland near Warsaw for a matter of a few weeks then westward to Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel from August 1944 until March 1945 when the approach of the British Forces caused the hurried evacuation recounted in W.O. Frisby’s diary which follows.
TRANSCRIPT OF DIARY KEPT BY WARRANT OFFICER A.B.FRISBY,
RAF. AS A PRISONER OF WAR, During THE MARCH FROM STALAG
357 AT FALLINGBOSTAL, GERMANY IN THE SPRING OF 1945 DURING
THE CLOSING WEEKS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
The allies are reported across the river Wesser and approaching Hanover. The camp is at Fallingbostel about 35-40 miles north of Hanover and about 50 miles east of Bremen.
We had hoped to be left behind in the camp and cut-off by Allied tank thrusts but on the 6 April, Friday, we awoke to the news that we were to be evacuated from the camp.
Transport of course was out of the question and this meant that we would have to march.
I was in the second party of five hundred to leave the camp. We left at about 6:30 PM on the first leg of the march to BLECKMAR about 12 to 15 Kilometres to the south-east.
Issued at camp with a loaf and two pats of margarine to last ostensibly for a week. Received 70 cigarettes from parcels in store — this was a great boon! Arrived at a farm in Bleckmar about 2:00AM Saturday 7 — very worn out — slept in a barn.
Saturday 7 — Rested up and were issued with peas and oatmeal, enough to make good soups for a week, but, as with all rations, there is no knowing when one will see the next. Had a fair day camping out so as to speak. Rumours rife of the closeness of the Allied advance columns. Slept again in the barn.
Sunday 8 — Awoke to information that we march again today about 7 Kilometres to a farm near BARBOSTEL in a N.E. direction. More peas and oatmeal issued and then we were off at 11:00 A.M. arrived at our destination about 2:30 PM. Not a good camping site! Received an issue of potatoes — 3 each! Informed we would have to sleep out in the open so constructed a fern bivouac. Good job the weather is perfect, although the nights are very cold.
Monday 9 — This morning told we had to leave at 8:30 A.M. on a long march of 17 Kilometres to a place unnamed. Got away at 9:30. We marched in a N. to NE direction and arrived at destination HOLZ1NGEN at 5:00 PM. A farm with a barn to sleep in. received an issue of a tin of meat between two men and to sleep with a promise of a rest day tomorrow. From the air activity around here the lines cannot be far distant. Many civilian refugees.
Tuesday 10 — Rest day as promised. Received another issue of spuds but told that we will get no more bread only rye flour instead. Ate very well today because yesterday was rather lean since we had little or no time for cooking. Promise of another tin of meat between two in the morning when we will probably march again. We are still not very far from Fallingbostel in a straight line regardless of our marches. We wonder how close the allies are whether we still have a chance of liberation.
Wednesday l1 — Away again at 8.am. for a march of 12 kilometres or so. Very hot today and my stomach slightly upset so feel pretty worn out. Arrived at a place called GRAVENHOF our destination about 4.pm. and camped out on heathland — slept in open. Issue of potatoes.
Thursday 12 — today we have to march a further 10 kilometres to (...?...). Started off about 10:00 Am. Arrived at farm and to sleep in a barn but camped in open field.
Friday 13 — Day of rest. Hoping to stay for more days rest but found we are to march again tomorrow. Many of the party are sick and it’s going to hard on us. Large issue of potatoes. Killed a cow for fresh meat issue and get issue of rye flour.
Saturday 14 — Away at 9:30 am. To march ten kilometres to SUDERGELLERN. Arrived at 2pm. hoping to get rest day tomorrow. Spuds issued.
Sunday 15 — Awake to tidings of a forced march of 20 kilometres to beyond LUNERBURG. The allies closing in and they want to rush us over the Elbe. Many chaps trying to stay behind on farms but the risk are great. Actually marched 27 kilometres today and arrived at a farm at BOLTERSEN about 7:30 pm. Slept in open.
Monday 16 — Orders to march again 8 kilometres at 1 pm. But cancelled. Eventually marched at 4 pm. Left a large sick party behind in a barn as there was no transport for them and they could not carry on. They be lucky, who knows? Arrived HITTSBERGEN about 8 pm. Got pack carried on this trip on a civilian cart which passed us going to the same place. Slept in barn.
Tuesday 17 — Awoken at 2:00 am. And told we have to march at 3:00 am across the Elbe River and 4 kilometres beyond. Crossed bridge at 4:30 am. And about 8:00 a.m. camped on river bank whilst quarters were found for us. Allied planes shot-up a barge right by us and we all had to lay in the dirt for safety! Away again at about 3:00 pm. For 2 kilometres to BICUSE where we stop the night sleeping in open. Thunderstorms came on. Got fresh meat today.
Wednesday 18 — Today to be a rest day thank god. ! Pity it is such a bad spot to camp. Issue of spuds as usual, rye flour, fish roes (from sunken barge) and fresh meat. Slept in open again but no rain this time.
Thursday 19 - Away to an early start for a march to GALLIN — 16 kilometres. At village of GRESSE we were highly elated by meeting “Dixie” our ever faithful RAF “Man of Confidence” with Red Cross parcels for us. One American parcel per man. What a surprise!! Whilst here RAF Typhoons attacked a target very close and we were to learn later that the target was one of our own columns marching along a road.
Thirty-three were- killed and fifty odd injured. This was a terrible tragedy being our own comrades but we have no means of identification.
We continued our march and met two more wagons from LUBECK bringing us more parcels. A further issue of a parcel per man was made on the road. What a day!! We eat well again. Arrived at GALLIN and put up at a farm, sleeping in a barn.
We gorged ourselves today and will certainly feel well for a few days to come. All we want from the Germans are spuds and bread. We will only get the former you bet!
Friday 2O — Rest Day. Got into the village this morning and for half a bar of soap got a small piece of bread, seven eggs and some chicken fat. Civilians are very friendly, eager to help us with what they can.
Saturday 21 — Away very early to TECHIN a distance of about 16 kilometres.
Wet. Arrived at village and camped in quite a good farm, sleeping in a barn — sixty
of us in a small one and the rest of the party in various others. Usual spuds issued.
Got ten eggs from Hun for fags.
Sunday 22 — Another rest day. Had quite a good time with Red Cross food Weather very showery.
Monday 23 — Off at 8:00 am for 10 kilometres to KNEESE. Billeted on quite a good farm again. Nice field to camp in and a good barn for sleeping. Spuds only issued. Weather still showery.
Tuesday 24 — Rest day. It now seems that we are in the area in which we are to stay indefinitely. Promise of bread at last, but only a promise. Meat issued and usual spuds. Weather has turned beautiful — sun and breeze.
Wednesday 25 — Probably another rest day. Army guards handing over to the Luftwaffe. Red Cross food fast disappearing but feeling fine on it. “Dixie” Deans passed us by today and promised more parcels in a few days. LUBECK is only 25 miles away. We may move this afternoon we are told, so pack in readiness. Move cancelled. In the evening a wagon from LUBECK stopped by and we got an issue of half an American parcel per man. Cheers again!
Thursday 26 — Doubtful whether we will move today either. Have been making a sort of biscuit from potatoes to use in lieu of bread for the jam etc. in the Red Cross parcel issue of meal (flour) which we are trying to get baked into bread at the local bakery.
Friday 27 — Looks as if we are here indefinitely. Nothing in particular happened today. Got half a loaf from a German guard for fags.
Saturday 28 — Wet this morning. Unpleasant camping out. A convoy of Swedish Red Cross lorries from LUBECK passed but did not stop. Later two came back but parcels were for another party. However we were told that we would get an issue sometime today or tomorrow. Issue of rye meal — made biscuits.
Sunday 29 — Issue of white and rye flour so made more biscuits. Red Cross issue did not arrive so general feeling of disappointment prevails. Heard news of Germany applying for terms, so if true it looks as if the war is fast ending.
This at least is cheering, if true.
Monday 30 — Today was a hey-day for rations. Germans issued peas, more flour and sauerkraut as well as usual spuds. About mid-morning Red Cross parcels arrived, half a Canadian and half an American each. Cheers!! At 3:00 pm. Told we are to march at 4:00pm. 12 kilometres towards the Allied lines to the West. Rumour says to be handed over which is debatable. March was pretty bad. Arrived KAGEL very late. Two parties in one barn.
Tuesday 1 May — Allies advanced into this area. News astounding. Talk of capitulation. Germans as glad as we are. Believe we are to stay here till the Allies reach us as per broadcasts received on local radio. Very unusual position for us, we don’t know what to think. Germans say Allies are here in two days and we will stay. Is this really to be the end?!!
Wednesday 2 — Air of expectancy as we still seem to be staying here. Maybe the Germans are telling us the truth for once. They certainly seem to be looking forward to the Allies reaching here as much as we are, everybody seems to realize the end is near. Issued with more flour, spinach and milk. Getting loaf made by woman in village.
Everybody is smiling and friendly towards us. Late afternoon the first Allied spearhead came through the next village.
We disarmed the German guards and roamed over the countryside taking booty from the Germans and then commandeering transport.
We need the transport to take us back over the river Elbe on our journey home.
Liberation at last!!
Thursday 3 — Convoy assembling — ready to go at 3:00 pm. Then cancelled — Off by ourselves in German Wireless Truck at 7:30 pm. — arrived at an Army Ration Unit on road for night at 9:30 pm.
Farmhouse for the night — feather beds!!
Friday 4 — Away again at 9:00 am. Arrived LUNEBURG about 11:30 am. At the Second Army Ex-POW Transit Camp. Showers, deloused, billeted, documented and well fed.
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