the afternoon the now large column slowly wended its way through
the town to the station and although the march was over we realised
that the train journey would be no picnic.
We were packed 45 to each cattle truck so that no one could get
really stretched out and we were locked into the trucks about
4pm; the train did not pull out until 8pm and we crawled slowly
through the night and all next day to Luckenwalde, a journey
of 160 kilometres which took 24 hours.
We de-trained at the sidings and marched to Stalag III A in the
darkness with our guards too listless to bother much about us
but by this time we too were in a low state so that no attempt
was made to escape. After a weary wait and a search we eventually
found beds in disgusting barracks which really horrified us but
that is another story and the great march was over.
In March 1984 Bill wrote, "After a forced march from various
camps in Poland and Eastern Germany in January 1945, many thousands
of allied POW were held in Stalag III A at Luckenwalde, South
of Berlin. Together with my close friends - Ted Walker, Ray Hartwell
& Johnny Sutton - I was put into one of the compounds at
Luckenwalde which housed a large number of Air Force personnel
from Stalag Luft III at Sagan and it must be said that conditions
in the compound were deplorable.
By early April 1945 food was very scarce and no Red Cross parcels
had reached us for many weeks but we were encouraged by the news
- by clandestine radio - which made it clear that the war would
soon be over. Nevertheless there was some anxiety as to German
intentions towards us, because in March an attempt was made to
evacuate us to South Germany but this was abandoned owing to
their inability to provide rail transport and in particular a
The period between the arrival of Russian troops and our eventual
journey to American lines was fraught with uncertainty and apprehension.
During that period I kept a diary at intervals but this is now
in poor condition so I have decided to rewrite it in order to
preserve a memento of a somewhat remarkable but little known
story. My copy is a true replica of the original and nothing
has been altered from the account which I wrote in 1945."
18 April 1945.
About 9pm the German doctor called on the SBO (Senior British
Officer) in our barracks and it was obvious that he had brought
some information of importance. Soon after his visit the SBO
went to all barracks and announced that, according to information
which he could not ignore, the Camp Commandant intended to march
the whole Stalag of 12000 men Westwards tomorrow morning; the
reason for this was that the Russians had broken through and
were about 20 miles away in an arc from NE to S. The SBO stated
that he would resist the move as far as safety permitted and
that we were to delay as much as possible should the order be