The Prisoner of War No 29 Vol 3 September 1944

The Prisoner of War Sept ember ,1944. Greetings at Lisbon LEW FARE OFFICER TELLS O F THE repatriation o f 900 British civilian prisoners o f war from Ger­ many was arranged in exchange for an equal number o f Germans from South Africa. The arrangements were made b they Foreign Office, which asked th eKed Cross lo provide two Welfare Officers. I was fortunate enough to be one o f those chosen, wand e were flown to Lisbon .The repatriates came in two parties, the first train arriving on July 23rd, and were warmly welcomed b they British Comm unity ,headed b y His Excellency Sir Ronald and Lady Camp bell. Many people went along the carriages dis­ trib u ting cigarette s,and there was excite­ment when some Merchant Navy men appeared carrying bottles o f beer 011 their heads which they had bought with the it own money. Stretcher cases were the first to be re­moved from the train ,and special per­ mission was given to the Red Cross b they International Police to take sick persons direct to the ship .The other people were then allowed out o f the train and taken to the Customs House, where they were a llo ca ted their cabin son the Swedish ship.“ roD ttn gin h o lm ,”given forms to send free telegrams to England ,food, rind k,an a a roll o f newspapers and magazines each .Every one had to wait there until 5.30 while the Germans were transferred from ship to train .TH EWE L COMET O REPATRIATES The second party did not arrive for ten days, so that arrangements were made to occupy the first party while they waited .Bathing parties, luncheons, cin em a shows, shopping parties were organ ised .The weather was lovely and there were 110 rules and regulations! Every one was free to do ashe o r she liked. 5s. a day was paid to each person —not riches, but useful while sightsee­ing. Clothing was provided for everyone in urgent need letters, free o f postage, could be sent, and a library and soft drink bar were opened. A s there were several ill persons, a sickbay was opened in the charge of English nurses, and it was wonderful how the patients improved with careful nurs­ing. Second Party Welcomed The second party arrived on Tue sd ay, August 1st, and were given a n e q u ally good welcome. Amongst this party were 156 B eng h a z i Jews, who were left in Lis­bon to be rep atria ted 'direct to North Afr ic a.We then thought w e should b e sailing for England a t once. The Germ ans, how ever, demanded that fourteen named persons should be left behind as hostages for fourteen Germans who were b ein gre#,p atria ted through Turkey and who had not arrive din Istanbul. A threes o f the named persons were ill, negotiations were opened with the Germ ans, who agreed that if three other people volunteered to stay behind ,the sick could sail. Volun­teers were easily found ,and it was a dram a tic moment to seethe fourteen people leaving the ship a t 3 a.m .Directly they had gone the ship sailed for England .The first day was ro u g h,and many passengers were seasick ,but after that the weather was kind ,and everyone enjoyed dancing ,games, and the good food which was provided a tall meals. I agave talk on condition sin England since 1939, which proved o f such great interest to the passengers t h a tit was repeated .Home Again O n a rriv in gin England special trains were provided ,and those who had ­whereon togo were a cco m m o dated in hostels until they could make plans o f their own. Every o neon the ship was most appre­ciative o f the work which was done for them ,while in camp ,by the Red Cross, and particularly stressed that without the Red Cross Food Parcels it would have been difficult to exist. I twas a great pleasure to have this wonderful opportunity o f bringing back to England such a large party o f her citizens. I twas most en co u raging to see, even in the short tim ewe spent with them ,the enormous change in the re­patriates, both p h y sic ally and mentally ,due to being free again ,and the thought that they would once more be able tc help their c o u n try .the components which —have been sent bout they Section .Similarly there are dental surgeries where den tu rescan be made for patients needing them from the equipment sent out from London .If a prisoner's sight needs a tte n ding to ,he can ask the qualified officer to prescribe the right lenses. In the last three months Invalid Com forts have had 421 optical prescriptions made up for prisoners, in addition to the many spectacles d esp atch ed on behalf o f next o f kin .PersonalS e r vice N o service could well be more personal than these. In the records room a t headquarters there are detailed medical records o f some 30,000 amen t the present moment, in the progress o f each one o f whom Invalid Com forts take a direct personal interest. The needs o f many others arc covered adequately from the standard sup ­plies issued to Hearing aids patients a t the have been sent discretion oft o some of the medical the camps in officers without Germany. recourse to Dis pen sing b Airy Mail (contd .)For the immediate necessities, then ,of the burned ,the blinded and the injured prisoners o fall kinds, Invalid Com forts are thoroughly p r e pared but the great bulk o f the Section's work dis ev o toted patients later, more last support. Special medicines that can not be dispensed from the supplies already sent to his hosp ital are provided a t the request of themed cali­ officer. Artificial arms or legs can l> ft built, to individual measurements Irorn individual application —the energen biscuits ford ia b e tics, for instance, o f which 5.300 tins were sent^out last year the instruments for tubercular cases atE lste rho rst Hos pita land the care fully chosen Invalid Diet Supplement parcels o f jellies, fruit juice sand malted foods. Occupational Therapy Many bedridden prisoners, too, have had cause to be grateful to the occu­pational therapy .service for saving them from boredom ,and helping them on the road recto o very .Most o f the raw material for this work comes from such generous bodies as theW o m en’s Institute s,and finds its way back to Britain astonish­ingly transformed into rugs, patchwork and e lab orate embroidery b y fingers that may p rev io u sly never have held a needle. Help in maintaining the handicrafts' side has lately been given b they Ministry o f Aircraft Production ,who are able to sup ply large quantities o f three- plywood as well asp ersp ex, the glass­ like plastic used in pilots ’cockpits and an attractive medium form odelling. Some 32.000 pieces o f occupational therapy work went to the camps last y e a r,and w cane be reason ably certain that there are still ample reserves for the con vale scent.
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