O ur day would start at 6:30 am. The roll call was made at 7:00am. This would take place in the prison yard, if the count did not tally, it could take up to three hours (rain or shine). If there had been an escape, it would mean a cut in rations and red cross parcels.
A s Dieppe POWs we were selected to be tied up by the wrists. This was by ropes for 3 months and a further 10 months by handcuffs and chains. This being on the orders of the SS Gestapo. The ropes were worse as it caused more discomfort with chaffing. This took place immediately after roll call, and lasted until 8:00p.m., when they were removed. Because of these restrictions our exercise was very limited. A stroll round the compound, usually with a comrade, was the extent of our daily pleasure. (Later on in our imprisonment we were transferred to another camp, where we were duly sent out on a working party, but that is another story.)
T he first meal of the day was at 11:00am. This was described by the prisoners as 'bedboard soup'. The ingredients that went into this was questionable, to say the least, and despite being very hungry, it was an effort to swallow. This 'meal' lasted us until 4:00pm. We were then treated to either 3 small or two large potatoes per man, along with 1/4 share of a standard loaf of bread, this was per day for 5 days, the other two days we had a 1/5 share of the bread. Sometimes this daily diet was supplemented by a small amount of German sausage (about 2oz.) and maybe on some other days with a little portion of German jam.
T he red cross parcels supplied by Canada and Britain arrived every few weeks or so, and were eagerly awaited. They contained small cans of such luxuries as coffee, tea, golden syrup, ham and cheese, supplemented in the British parcels with dried egg and corned beef, needless to say, these were letter days, and went a long was to lifting our spirits in the darkest times.
A t 8pm after being unshackled we had an hour before the guards closed all shutters and doors. Then it was time to bed down, say a prayer to thank god for getting us through another day, knowing that tomorrow would be another of the same and wondering how long our imprisonment would last.
W hen it became clear that the Russian forces were advancing towards our camp on the Polish border, we were forced to start marching, a journey which covered approximately 900 miles, during which time our guards, realizing that Germany was losing the war, eventually left us. We carried on until we finally met up with General Paten's Forces on the Western Front.
T he journey started on the 31st of January 1945 (my 23rd birthday), and ended on the 14th of April 1945. I weighed just 96 pounds.
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