Daily Archives: September 19, 2016

The War Log of Bill Allen – part 10

Dulag Luft…..

“The remainder of that night we travelled only a very short distance, and the next day was even slower as the Germans were scared stiff of our aircraft spotting us and straffing the train, this having been a popular sport with our Spitfires, Typhoons and American Lightnings for months past. However, the journey was very grim from start to finish. We were too cramped to sleep, and we were not getting any food other than the issue of half a loaf that we received in Paris. The journey was more or less uneventful, we saw many signs of bomb damage especially to the railway where our airforces had done a really good job of work. We arrived in Frankfurt after four very miserable days on the train. The railway coach was Italian, and built I should think about the same time as the Ark. We were taken a little way past Frankfurt to a place called Oberussel, here we boarded a tram-car, the last thing that I ever expected to ride upon in Germany. We travelled roughly two miles on the tram-car, and finally arrived at the now famous Dulag Luft. This place I had heard so much of in England as it is quite notorious for its’ treatment of R.A.F. Flyers. The principle object in being taken there is to be interrogated by German Intelligence Officers. Immediately on arrival in the Camp we were again searched and then placed in single cells almost like Dartmoor I should imagine. The following morning we were taken out one at a time, and were interviewed by a German Officer. I was very lucky as my interrogation lasted only a few minutes during which time they succeeded in getting my number, rank and name. I was then taken back to my cell No.26, where I spent one more night and then was taken out, and placed in another compound where there were large huts and lots of other fellows so I felt a little more cheerful. Some of the chaps were kept in solitary for as long as six weeks, being taken out at intervals for further interrogation and grilling. If I had stayed in the cell much longer I would have gone crackers in a few days.

The following day, we were on our way again, this time to a transit camp at a place called Wietzlar, about forty miles from Dulag Luft. On arrival at Wietzlar we were to be sent to Camps all over Germany. There were a lot of Americans at the transit camp, including a Colonel ex-mustang pilot. He was in charge of us at the camp.

The conditions here were very good after Dulag Luft and France, the food being exceptionally good. We had to stay here until there were sufficient R.A.F. personnel to make up a party to travel to a permanent camp. Here were a lot of Americans in the camp but they go to separate camps from the R.A.F. However, as the food was both good and plentiful I did not mind staying there for a week or two, the food of course, was Red Cross, also cigarettes, which we got in quite good supply. At the end of the week however, forty of us were taken to the station again, this time we marched as we were all feeling much better than when we had arrived at the transit camp. We boarded a train this time with barred windows, and just as uncomfortable as the one on which we had travelled from France. For rations, we had one Red Cross parcel between two men, also one German loaf between two. This journey was a little more interesting than the first, as we passed through many German towns including Dresden, Liepzig and Breslau, all were pretty well knocked about as one can guess considering the bombing they have had from the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.A.F. Frankfurt also was very badly wrecked.

The German countryside is very beautiful and we noticed that there was hardly a yard of ground which was not growing something, especially vegetables and fruit trees. The houses all seem to be built very large and picturesque, and very clean. I can’t understand why these Germans don’t get wise to themselves and look after their own Country instead of interfering with everybody else.

On the morning of the fifth day of travel through Germany, we arrived at our destination, a new camp at Bankau in upper Silesia, only eight miles from the Polish border, and a little more to the Czechoslovakian border. The camp had only been open two weeks and there were only about three hundred chaps in it. Hey were all in small huts each built to hold six people. These huts were just temporary structures that had been erected until the permanent structures were completed. We were informed that we were to move into the new camp in October.

One thing I was very pleased to see when I arrived was that there were many facilities for sport, especially football. A Scots chap and myself want to work on a football ground, and with some timber that we got from the Germans we made some goalposts. The camp was split into eight divisions, so each of the divisions selected two teams and we started a league.

I met quite a number of chaps from my Squadron who had been shot down before me, and each week a new batch comes into the camp, and everyone flocks over to see them in the hope that some more of their crew may have turned up…..”