The War Log of Bill Allen – part 8

A first taste of captivity……

“In this, my first personal contact with the Germans, I noticed how strong was the discipline, even in these front line troops. After my experiences with the First lieutenant I visualized all sorts of tortures at the hands of the big noise, but when I was called in to see him, before asking me a single question about myself, he asked me when I had last eaten, on hearing my reply that I had not eaten for 2 days, he immediately ordered his batman to get me some breakfast, which he brought to me in the form of three large biscuits covered in butter and jam and a glass of milk. After I had finished the food, the Commandant whom I learned was a Hauptman (Captain) asked me a few questions about my whereabouts when shot down, the number of my Squadron and it’s base, also various other items of military information, all of which I refused to give to him.

I was beginning to fear the worst, but finally he stood up and said “I see it is a waste of my time trying to get information from you, so I will now stop questioning you, you are a good soldier”.

I was ordered to take up my position outside of the coach again, this I did, and was there until about twelve o’clock when a car drove up, and the driver, a Sgt. ordered me into the back whilst the Commandant himself came and sat in the front by the driver. We left the front line H.Q. and set off to a small town called Dozule, there I was again taken into a coach and interrogated by three German Officers. I again refused them information, and within an hour was back on the road, this time with a young driver of about twenty years of age, and a young guard who told me his age was eighteen. They were both very friendly, and on the way to the temporary prison camp which was my destination, we stopped in a village and they took me into a small café where people gave me a drink and some bread and meat. After I had finished my meal, they gave me a further loaf of bread to take along with me.

The remainder of the journey was spent by the young guard showing me photographs of his family and self.

We arrived at our destination which was an old brickyard which the Hun had commandeered. Here I was placed in a room with about twelve other chaps, mainly paratroopers. Our bed was a heap of straw on the floor. The date incidentally was 24th of June, exactly fourteen days after I was shot down.

I was in the brickyard about eight days, during which time our number grew to forty, including two fighter pilots, one Aussie and one Canadian, also two Yankee Aircrew boys from a marauder crew. The remainder were either paratroopers or commandos. On the last day we were there, a Sgt/ Mjr Commando and one of the Yanks made a break but were caught at eleven o’clock the same night and shot. The remainder of us were put into a van and taken to a large prison camp at a place called Alenon. This place was full of Americans and British, but only about thirty aircrew. We only stayed there until lunch-time, and we were then placed in an open lorry and the thirty of us were taken to a town called Chartres about fifty miles from Paris. Here we were handed over to the Luftwaffe and taken from the original in Cartres where we had been first taken and which contained about a thousand Moroccans captured in the Libyan campaign, to a large college in the centre of the town that had been converted into a temporary prison camp. This college was three or four stories high, and contained a science laboratory still fully equipped, numerous other classrooms, and a beautiful little Catholic Chapel. The Chapel with it’s seats and benches all piled up on the latter, was to be our prison for a short while, and our beds once again a heap of straw on the floor. Our guards were very young and did not look at all safe with the Schmeisers and rifles with which they were armed. One lad, aged eighteen, could speak a little English and we used to spend the time kidding him about their losing the War. He was a typical young Nazi and still firmly believed they were winning the war, but by the time we have finished with him he was feeling quite depressed…..”

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