6am there was a loud burst of cheering from the Russian compound
nearby and on rushing outside we found a Russian armoured car
surrounded by a wildly excited crowd of Russian POW. It did not
stay long enough for many in the camp to see the first indication
of liberation but it collected two senior Russian Officers and
went to HQ where it called for General Ruge, an American Colonel
and an interpreter. The two latter rode on the outside of the
car as it made its way to Luckenwalde town but on its route the
armoured car was fired on by a group of Germans; the outside
passengers quickly vacated their position into a ditch from which
they retraced their steps to camp while the car continued to
Luckenwalde with the General.
Spirits in the camp rose fast and about 11 o'clock six Russian
tanks and several lorries entered the camp to be greeted by great
cheers from the entire personnel who were still confined to their
own compounds unless on duty. One tank on its way through the
compound simply mowed down the wire alongside our compound. The
Russian troops looked tired but cheerful as they responded to
our greetings and we all remarked on their tough appearance -
a number of Mongolians amongst them.
The tanks went straight to the Russian compound where the prisoners
were addressed by the Tank Commander and within half an hour
the tanks left the camp closely followed by all the Russian POW
except those who were too ill to walk. No one ever knew what
happened to these prisoners but there seems little doubt that
some of them joined the front line troops immediately; the Russian
authorities apparently took the view that it was dishonourable
to be taken prisoner and no doubt many of them tried to rehabilitate
themselves this way.
This episode was felt to be the highlight of the period as it
marked our definite liberation from the Germans but we were still
in Russian hands and from this time on morale fell; nearly all
danger was past, tension relaxed and everyone was interested
in just one thing - getting home.
April 27 1945.
As the days passed with nothing happening spirits got lower as
boredom increased and as I write this today a feeling of restiveness
is very apparent.
The battle moved away rapidly and we realise how lucky we have
been in having avoided any casualties while one of the greatest
battles in history surged past us on all sides. Nevertheless
the lack of any news as to our future is causing a lot of grumbling
and I admit to having done a good deal myself but a cool look
at the situation shows it to be a difficult one. It is clear
that we cannot be moved until either the Russians and Americans
achieve a broad link up to the South of us or the Russians can
relieve the transport congestion which is bound to occur to the
East. The real trouble is that most of us were confident that
we would be evacuated within 48 hours of liberation and probably
this would have happened if the Americans had arrived first.
One of the first results of the Russian presence was an improvement
in our food supply with the arrival of butter, fresh meat and
fresh bread. Parties of Russian Officers are frequently in camp
and so far we have been favourably impressed by them, both in
their attitude and in their efforts to make our stay more comfortable.