The War Log of Bill Allen – part 14

Left page“The autograph of Max Schmelling the German heavyweight boxer whom I spoke to in Stalag IIIA. His home is in Luckenwalde a town near the Stalag. He was in civilian clothes and is engaged by the German Red Cross doing welfare work, the nature of which no one seems to have any idea, all that he appeared to do was sign autographs. Some form of propaganda I suppose” a drawing by the author of ME702 AA-Q image © Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Left page
“The autograph of Max Schmelling the German heavyweight boxer whom I spoke to in Stalag IIIA. His home is in Luckenwalde a town near the Stalag. He was in civilian clothes and is engaged by the German Red Cross doing welfare work, the nature of which no one seems to have any idea, all that he appeared to do was sign autographs. Some form of propaganda I suppose”
RIght page
A drawing by the author of ME702 AA-Q
image © Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Breaking point…..

12th February 1945
“A few words about IIIA. We have so little food that we can only lie on our beds all day and think of home and food, we have no energy for anything else. It is a large camp, divided into a number of smaller compounds each of these containing so many men. The Officers are in i=one, Americans, Serbs, Poles, French etc., in the others, yet they meticulously count us twice a day at 7.00a.m. and 5.00p.m. How they think anyone can escape heaven knows, there are about nine walls of barbed wire before you reach the outer fence, and there are hordes of armed guards all along the wire.

14th February 1945
We learned today that our bread is to be decreased again from today so that we now receive three ounces per day. If the War does not end very soon a lot of us will not survive this imprisonment, we are taking on the appearance of skeletons, I would not like my Mother to see me in this condition.

23rd February 1945
Since last making an entry in this book I have had seven days in bed (if you can call it a bed) with tonsillitis and flu, and due to our undernourishment condition I have had a rough time. The food rations are getting less, due we are told to the R.A.F. bombing of Berlin, which is only 25 miles away, and also to rail junctions in this area. Germany is in a grim state and I don’t know how they stand up to this pounding that they are receiving from the Allied Air Forces. A sensation was created by the British Camp Leader giving us each twelve cigarettes, the first since Christmas. It was a decided booster of moral.

27th March 1945
The moral of the chaps has received a great fillip at the news of Field Marshall Montgomery’s big drive in the West, and we are all beginning to see visions of an early finish to the War and our return home. The food in Germany has become worse during the last week. Our rations have again been cut very drastically by order of the German High Command. We now receive three thin slices of black bread, and a half lire of soup per day. Luckily a consignment of Red Cross food parcels came in, and we each received one this week, it will supplement the meager German rations for a few days.

The area of this camp is about two square miles and is situated twenty five miles from Berlin. The air-raid sirens are howling day and night as the R.A.F. and the Americans bomb Berlin and Leipzig. The Germans in the principal towns of Germany must be bomb happy by now, we stand for hours every day watching dog fights between American and German fighters, its quite thrilling especially when great formations of Allied bombers fly over to bomb Berlin.

9th April 1945
News keep on coming in every day of the Allies push in the West, and we are all looking forward to being released, as quite a number of P.O.W. camps have been already. It will be great to get home again, especially from the point of view of food. The rations are getting less every day, and the quality worse.

11th April 1945
Once again we have had the grim news that we are to be moved from the camp to another camp in Bavaria, near Munich, we are to go in the morning at 8 o’clock. The distance is so great and the railway service so bad that we don’t expect to get to 7A Camp inside two or three weeks, if at all, it is possible we may be cut off by the Americans in the Leipzig area.

12th April 1945
We marched down to Luckenwalde and boarded box cars on the Railway for our journey South. There were sixteen hundred of us, twelve hundred Officers and four hundred N.C.O.’s, all R.A.F. Air Crews, they seem to be hanging on like grim death to R.A.F. Personnel. However, the box cars will be better than another march like the one from Bankau, we are to be packed 40 in a truck like cattle nevertheless……”

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