The Prisoner of War No 38 Vol 4 June 1945

J une, 1945 The Prisoner of War• 3 aIM tv the Convoys Got Through The trucks are loaded with their precious cargoes. EARLY ill March a delegate of the International Red Cross visited a Canadian prisoner of war camp at Moos­ burg, and asked for twelve volunteers to drive trucks taking Red Cross sup­plies to prisoners on the move and in marooned stalags. There \tas an imme­diate response to the request, and 011 March 8th the volunteers were taken to Lubeck, where they met M. Paul de Blonay, a Swiss I.R.C. delegate. The little party of twelve, which was in charge of Sgt. Maj. Moss, learnt that 50 loaded trucks were awaiting drivers at Constance, 011 the Swiss border. Then a further thirty Canadians and twenty-two Americans were re­cruited from camps at Lubeck, and eight Men of Confidence who had come to draw rations for camps since liberated, made up the total required. One Step from Freedom When the men had given their word of honour that they would make 110 attempt to escape, the Germans allowed them to proceed by passenger train to Constance. There they found them­selves in the German-held part of the town, with only a barrier separating them from Switzerland and freedom. Sgt. Maj. Muss told a representative ofT heP r is o nero f War that the drivers had plenty of opportunities to escape into Switzerland, but not one succumbed to the temptation. Had any done so, the Germans would have carried out their threat and taken every supply truck off the road. The fifty trucks consisted of G.M.C.s carrying 1,000 parcels. each, and Chev- rolets carrying 800 each. They were divided into three separate convoys. One convoy moving from Constance to Moosburg, via Gefrees and Carlsbad, found a hospital in Gefrees containing forty British P.o.W.s all too ill to be moved. There were 110 nurses, but one German doctor without medical equip­ment had remained in charge. The convoy supplied Red Cross medi­cal parcels and food. “Those parcels undoubtedly saved the men’s lives," said Sgt. Maj. Moss.‘ 1 They were so excited when they saw what we were bringing them, and cheered and shouted so much, that it was quite a job to get them fed." This convoy reloaded at Moosburg from a Red Cross dump, and returned with further stocks to Gefrees. When the original supplies from Con­stance were exhausted the trucks ran shuttle services from the dumps at Moos­ burg and Lubeck. Two trucks left Lubeck. on April 8th to deliver French parcels from Behrensdorf to French P.o.W south-east.s of Berlin. The drivers reported tremendous congestion on the roads mostly caused by German civilians fleeing from the Russian front towards the American lines. Atone point Pte. Charlie Smith, of Manitoba, found himself in avery hotspot, and then discovered he was two miles in the rear of the advancing Russians. The trekking convoys moved by day and night. During one period of eight days the drivers averaged only three hours sleep per night. South of Wis- man a convoy of twelve trucks re­turning empty for more supplies agave lift to several hundred Allied women stranded on the road. Many of the women were so weak they had to be lifted into the vehicles. This convoy was in­volved in an Allied raid, and one American driver was killed and two Canadians were wounded.. Four trucks were destroyed and two badly damaged. Translation of the document each driver carried as authorisation to proceed. Each convoy was accompanied by a German guard, but 011 a number of occa­sions S.S. tried to commandeer food parcels, petrol, etc. South of, Berlin in an armed hold-up the S.S. stole one loaded truck and near San Bostal they seized 160 parcels and a supply of petrol. Thefts might have reached a serious level had not each driver been issued with a certificate by high-ranking officials of the Wallen S.S. There were few occasions when these certificates failed to protect the Red Cross supplies. Altogether i.},ooo marching prisoners were contacted by this party of drivers. Each received one parcel to last for five days. At the end of this time a convoy would overtake the column again and make afresh issue. It proved impossible to allot more than one parcel per man because the marchers had 110 transport to carry extra supplies. The volunteer drivers received their freedom at Lubeck, on May 2nd at 3.25 p.m., when the first British tank came rolling in. It was a great moment, but the work itself did not finish until May 8th. The convoy men re­mained in Germany for another six days to ieed P.o.W.s and evacuees await­ing transport to the United Kingdom. When at last their own turn came to leave, they overhanded their trucks to Swiss Fed Cross drivers. ---------AUTHORITY FROM THE S.S.---------- Lubeok. 19th April, 1945. CSRTIPICATK Lorry Jio. OS 55 Y Y o f tho International Tied Cross, Its entire load, tnc Its petrol and oil ore tho property of tho International Cox.vittee of tho Rod Cross at Gonovn. Requisition thoroof would therefore abe breach of international lar, and a general naming is hereby issuoi arainst such requisition. Any person disregarding this warning offends not only against international law but also against Military law and •.rill be tried by a Gersfir. nllitary court. SCH F.O a>SR 5.2 .Brigadier and ta'or-Genoral of Police for "BERGER C. :!ono Forces Chief cr ?risonors of 'ar Administration Senior Group Loader an?' General in the Armed S.S. For International Red Croas Com itte *F. DS 3L0HAY E e leg ct*. _____________________________________________I
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