The Prisoner of War No 37 Vol 4 May 1945

-May ,1945 The Prisoner of War 3 Liberation Comes to Stalag #Y1 Described by SGT. THERON, of the H T I I ERE had been 110 Red Cross food J-parcels since the arrival o f the British p.o.w .s from Silesia all o f them had walked the grue llin g 500 miles and most were in a state o f utter physical exhaustion .But the German radio an­nounced on the 2nd April, that the American 3rd Army had penetrated deeply over the R h in eat Frankfurt and hopes and morale soared .The pet phrase in the British compound was the" T h ’sPree "—Patton ,Parcels Pro e ace! Rum ours were rife, b u tat least hun ger was replaced b they excitement o f im­minent liberation .Then came the lob w.On Wednesday ,the 4th April, a t 4 p .m.,all senior men were sent for b they German Comm an­d ant and told th a ton Thurs day all fit men would move o u ton foot. The new shit us all very hard ,as most o f the lad shad just completed a previous ‘‘hike h,"and a d.b a rely recovered from its effects. Mass sick -parades were, held and the ruling ©f the Senior British Medical Officer was that those who could manage to walk should d o so in order to protect the really crippled and weak .The Ger­ mans had threatened to force every bod you t, and such action would have meant certain disaster to many .We were in three categories— th e walking fit the not-so-sick who were to be trans p o r ted and the serious cases who were to remain Sta"in lag hospitals. Those Who Remained A t 8 a .m.on Thursday ,the 5 th April, the marching columns left, wand e who remained watched theirs tr a g g ling line disappear into the trees about a mile from the camp .Along the road leading past Sta lag I X A there were evident signs o f German withdrawals— 011 foo t,b y cart and horse, and in truck shun d reds o f Germans were streaming back from the fron t.In the v a lle your fighters stra ffed in­cessantly .We were told th a tall men in camp would remain indefinitely —but w e couldn't believe that the Germans would 1st R.L.I., Union Defence Force, South Africa, who was captured at Tobruk The gates of S talag XIB open to release the British captives within. A t a few minutes after midday aline o f tanks was spotted coming towards us from the east. W e could scarcely breathe. I grab abed pair o f binoculars from a German officer a n din the tense excitement could only see a blur !Ger­ manor ours ?It meant so much .The Germans knew ,how eve r,and fell in neatly ,ready to handover to the first American soldier. All this while the camp was quite deserted and incredibly quiet. A shot passed overhead ,and shortly afterward sat exactly 12.30 p.m .the first Sherman reached the Agates. t Last !The p.o.w .s were held in check until the German guards were disarmed ,and then as the main American convoy moved u p pandemonium broke loose. Singing ,yelling ,cheering ,prisoners mobbed the lib era tors— eve ry body w ass h a king hands with every body else. In­coherent b a b b ling and tears were fre­quent signs o f a relieved gladness that is beyond description .All that day Americans p o u red past, and the starved and smokeless p.o.w .shad armfuls of cigarette san d"C Rat ions "handed to them. I twas a great day .The next morning truck loads o f choc o ­late ,cigarette sand chewing gum rolled into camp .The Yanks were incredibly kind to u sand only asked that were- (CoHtinuai on pugc 11) O flag 79 is liberated, and British E x -p.o.w cook.s their first meal in freedom .allow us to be retaken so simply. I twas apparent b y 3 o ’clock that only avery sk lee ton guard would remain. Volunteers from among the guards were called for, and even tu ally a t 5 p .m.all who re­mained were three officers and 26 other ranks. Their attitude was one o f com­plete resignation —the camp was v ir tu ally ours. All afternoon and during the night the battle-sounds came closer, and very few men slept that night. The whole camp seemed tense and u n can n illy quiet. Friday dawned sunny and clea r—ex c ep fort a distant rumble all was quiet. The morning dragged to 11 a.m .,and still n o sign o f Allied tanks. Spotters reported German tanks 011 the hill behind the camp wand e feared a battle might d eve lo pin our vicinity .Every body was ordered to get into barrack sand remain q u ie t.At 11.15 a.m .the German Acting- Camp Comm and ant formally handed the keys o f the camp to our senior officer.
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