Originally I was allotted to the 1st Battalion. We received there our giggle suits as they used to call them, palliasses and we were allotted to huts in groups. I was there for about
6 weeks I’d say. There was Sergeant Major Jackson in charge of us. I was picked out to go to Menangle, to an NCOs [non commissioned officers] camp. I went there for
8 weeks. Then I was picked out and sent to the showground to be in the guard, so I changed over colours from the 1st AIF [Australian Imperial Force] to the 2nd AIF. I was there for two weeks.
Then they sent be back to Greta Army Camp. When I went to Greta they put me in the 2/4th Battalion. I was there for about two months and I got called up to the officer in charge and he said I’d been picked out to go to
an officers’ school at Narellan. So I went again. Packed up and off I went to Narellan. I was at Narellan for about a month doing a course there at the officers’ school.
I passed out there and they sent me back to Greta as a sergeant. They said my commission would come through, I went back there and the officer in charge told me “Don’t go overseas because if you do, your commission might come through so quick. It’s very hard to get to
go overseas. Get your position first and then go overseas.” How do you not go overseas? You’d volunteered for the army and they say, “All right, you’re going overseas,” so what do you say? I can’t go? Eventually we went overseas. Went on the ship Slamat.
and went to Bombay first off. On the way over we lost a man overboard and the ship stopped to try and pick him up and then the navy pulled up alongside and went crook at them for stopping. They were making a target out of themselves.
They said they’d look after the man, “Get on your way.” We went to Bombay and had leave in Bombay. Then from there we went across to Palestine. In Palestine we were going up the Suez Canal and the boat pulled up and
they immediately issued orders, “No one was to go in for a swim over the side.” The place was laden with sharks, the water was unhealthy and on no account was anyone to go in for a swim. With that, promptly a man was thrown overboard and everyone sang out “man overboard” and everyone went in for a swim.
When they got them all back onboard we went further up the Suez Canal and we landed and caught the train to go right into Palestine. We went to a place, no I can’t remember the name
of it. We went up there and I was still in the 2/4th Battalion but I was attached to the 19th Infantry Training Brigade to train the men of the 2/4th, all the reinforcements when they come over, I had to train them before they went up to the battalion.
I was there for a month I think training these blokes. Then the war in England wasn’t going so good and we had a railway unit over there. France had fallen, so they were to go to France.
So they couldn’t go to France so they had to send them back to Palestine. When they got back there they hadn’t had any, they were a railway unit and they hadn't had any small arms training or anything. So they decided to send me and others up to Nablus and train them. So we went up
there for about 6 weeks. Trained them. Then came back to, I think it was called Beersheba. I was there for a long while and [Jimmy UNCLEAR] must stay there. Beersheba was up here and down the road about five miles was the
4th Battalion. They hadn't gone into action yet. One day a plane came over, went across, down to Beersheba and down to where the 2/4th Battalion was and they start dive bombing it. We’re all watching from our camp.
Everyone was ordered into trenches and the others said, “Don’t do anything until I do, until I say so.” So eventually the plane bombed the 2/4th Battalion and we were watching it. It turned around and started to come back towards our camp. It was flying over our
camp and I don’t know who started it, but someone fired at it. Then it got all small arms fire all over the place, firing at the plane. It’s going across the camp and someone said, “It’s one of ours.” It was one of ours and it was doing a mock attack on the
2/4th Battalion so they’d get used to it. We didn’t know anything about it. When it came over our camp we all fired at it. Apparently, when the pilot got back to his base, his plane was riddled full of bullet holes. I stayed there for a long while and I trained soldiers, went on route marches and
went on leave to Tel Aviv and all those sort of places. I thought, “This is no good, I want to get back to the battalion.” So the sergeants in a training battalion were a bit dicey on going up to the 2/4th Battalion
because when they got up there, they were reduced in rank and they had to work their way up again. Most of them weren’t keen on that. I didn’t care, I went up. I volunteered to go up and up I went. I joined the Battalion and fortunately for me there was a vacancy up of a sergeant, so they didn’t reduce my rank.
I carried on as sergeant, platoon sergeant.. After training there with the troops I went from there to Mersa Matruh. It was a sort of staging camp on the way up.
I stayed there for a month and then we were shipped out to go to Tobruk and we went up through the Mediterranean and it was the roughest ride I’d ever had to Tobruk. When we got to Tobruk, they’d just got Tobruk and it had fallen. We
came into the harbour and there were wrecks everywhere. So they had to take us ashore by boat. We went ashore. Then we were taken up outside Tobruk, on the hills, which overlooked Tobruk. There was a supply camp there.
I was put on guard on the supply camp. During the night the Germans came over and they bombed Tobruk. I suppose it was a real exciting time when you weren’t actually in the bombing,
but you were watching it happen all the time. I came out of the camp and I was on my own and I was watching what’s going on. I looked down over Tobruk, it’s all dark, you couldn’t hear anything but the bombing. I was standing in the road and watching it going on.
Unbeknown to be, an anti-aircraft gun was coming up and it was right behind me and all of a sudden they let go and they opened up. Well, I got the shock of my life. I think it was one of the biggest shocks I ever got.
All the bombing was going on and all of a sudden something blows behind you and, anyway. When that was over, a few days later we took off to Derna. They had ridges over the roads, not over rivers,
because they had hills everywhere there. The Italians had blown all the bridges so we had to wait for the engineers to fix those up. We went on to Derna. When we got to Derna we came down into Derna and it had been more or less deserted by the Italians, they’d all gone off. So we went through Derna and
carried on and fought our way up to Benghazi. We got to Benghazi and dug in outside Benghazi. Then whoever was in command decided that our lines of communication were too long
and they didn't want to go any further. So we were there for a long while. We had leave. There was nothing to have leave for, because there was nothing there really. From there, eventually, we left here and I think the
7th Division took over from us and we came back to Alexandria for leave. We had leave in Alexandria. We were there for quite a while and when I got leave in Alexandria, I had four days,
and I’d seen Alexandria before. There was nothing there. Only shops and restaurants and you could have a bath and all this sort of thing. So I decided, we all knew, no one was supposed to know, but we all knew we were going to Greece. So everyone went on leave and there was a lot of AWL [absent without leave] and all
that. I got my leave and I had 4 days. So I went to Alexandria and I was in the restaurant there and I’m thinking “I might never get a chance to see Cairo if I go to Greece, so I’ll go to Cairo.” So although I was AWL going to Cairo, I didn’t overstay my time.
I only used the 4 days. I flew up to Cairo and there was me and another corporal who decided to go with me. We flew up and we were the only two on the plane going up. We had our cameras hidden in our pocket, you weren’t supposed to take any pictures or anything. Consequently I took pictures.
There was no one there to see whether I did or not. I landed in Cairo. When I got to Cairo I went down to stay at the Shepheard’s Hotel. It was actually an officers’ hotel and I got in an awful lot of trouble there because in Alexandria, when I went to restaurants, someone had stolen my hat and I only had a
side hat, which I didn’t like. So I just stuck it under my lapel. I was wandering round there and I got pulled up very smartly when I went into the hotel and asked why I wasn’t wearing it and “You’d better put it on or you’ll get in trouble.” So I put it on. While I was there I went to the pyramids and the Sphinx
and the museum in Cairo. Dreadful place.
I flew back to Alexandria. I got back to camp on time, so I wasn’t, the only way I was AWL was I went to Cairo and you got leave to Alexandria. There was nothing said because I was on time. Then we boarded a Dutch ship, I can’t remember the name
of it. We headed for Greece. Had the best bread on it you’d ever tasted. We went over to Greece and we landed at Athens and we were camped just outside Athens. Then we got leave into Athens. It was short leave because things were starting to heat up over there.
I didn’t get leave into Athens. Then they put us on the train and we went to a place called Larisa to guard an airport there. We were on guard there for about two weeks at the airport. Then, once again, they came and relieved us and took us up
by truck to, Greece, I don’t know where we went. We went up to the trains and we boarded the train. We headed up to Vivi, which was right on the Yugoslav Greek border. They took us off the train at the finish, we passed quite a few
Greek soldiers coming back from their session of war with the Italians, I think, in Albania. Wounded were coming back. It was quite a few. The Greeks didn’t have anything to fight. I think they had one rifle for three men and some had uniforms, some didn’t. Dreadful. We got up to Vivi
and we embarked again. All the roads there were built up above the fields. We had to walk up into the hills and that’s where we had to dig in and confront the Germans and stop the German advance. We got up there and
it started to snow. We weren’t dressed for snow. We’d just come from the desert. We had uniforms on, but not shorts. They weren’t dressed for the snow. We went up there and we dug in up there. Then we fought for 3 days up there. We couldn’t
get anywhere. We were holding the Germans, they couldn’t advance, but the trouble was with the snow, you used to dig your trenches and all this snow inside the trenches would melt and so the trenches were actually a target for the dive bombers. We had no air force. We never saw any air force. Not
at any stage. The Germans, when things got tough, they just called in their air force and their Stukas would come over and they’d dive bomb us. We sent out patrols here and there. This night we looked and you could see the Greeks were on either side of us and I think it was only
the 4th Battalion, a few Kiwis, a few Englishmen holding the Germans back because they hadn't reached their full potential then. You couldn’t fire on them. If you started to fire on them, as soon as you started they’d call in the air force. These Stukas used to almost be able to drop
a bomb in a barrel. So you can imagine what they did with trenches. When morning came we looked over towards our left flank and the Greeks had gone. So we looked over to the right flank and the Greeks had gone there too. So we were just sitting up on this hill with
no one on our flanks. Eventually order came through to evacuate the position. So then we proceeded to evacuate. When you evacuate you had to carry everything. Your ammunition, which weighed a ton, and everything you wanted you had to carry because we had to walk back to a
picking up place where we’d got off to get into the hills. We had to go back there and they were going to pick us up and take us back. So the orders went. The lines of communication were cut. We couldn’t communicate with anyone, it was only done by a runner. So our orders were, “Cover B Company and
when you get them out, pull out yourself and go back to be picked up.” So we covered B Company. Eventually we headed off back to be picked up. We came down out of the hills and you’ve got no idea what the bedlam was. There was blokes everywhere without rifles, they’d thrown everything away and they were just
marching out. My blokes were sat down for a rest on the way up. They said, “What about this? This bloke’s got nothing and we’re carrying the lot.” I said, “You can’t do that. You can throw your tripods away and all the heavy stuff that you don’t need, but you’ve got to keep your rifles. If you don’t keep your rifles and you run into a German,
what have you got? You’ve got nothing.” So they thought that was right. Eventually we came down and I left my lieutenant, Lieutenant Copeland he was, he said, “I’ll go ahead and you come on afterwards when you’ve stopped for a rest. I’ll meet you down the pick up junction.”
So we went down to the junction on the road and there was a Major Barham there. They were just streaking up the road in disorder. So Major Barham said to Copeland, “Go up the front and stop them. We’ve got to get organised or we’ve got no chance at all.”
So Copeland said to me “Look after Major Barham and I’ll go up the front and I’ll see you when you get there.” The roads were built up quite high on the side. You couldn’t go up the road because you’d get bogged straight away. With the snow it was all more or less mud and there was trucks and everything bogged in the fields where they
had gone off the road. There was no trucks where we were supposed to be picked up. Apparently it came through later on, that we weren’t to go there at all, but no one knew it. So we were there and we were watching the German lines back further. There was no advance or anything like that.
All of a sudden a German came up on the side of a road. A German sergeant. He stood up. Where he came from, I don’t know. The only thing I can think of, there must have been a drain under the road and he crawled up that drain and when he got out the other side he stood up. When he stood up he was in the middle of
the Australians. He called on Major Barham to surrender. With which, Major Barham and him fired at the same time and they both got killed. I don’t know whether it was Major Barham killed him, because everyone fired at him. So then we were left without the officers or anything. So we headed up the road again. I was bringing up the
tail. I had a Tommy gun [Thompson gun] issued to me by the American army. I had three cylinders of ammunition and they weighed a ton, stuck in my pockets on my overcoat. We headed up the road. We’re going up, and I’m more or less walking
backwards, just watching what’s behind me. As I got along the road a voice said, “Put your arms down and turn around slowly.” I looked over my shoulder and it was a German and he had his
gun trained on me. It all happened in a flash. You don’t realise it, but to me it was slow motion. I’m thinking “What do I do?” I thought, “I can’t fire at him because he’s surrounded by Australians.”
I’m thinking and he said again, and this is unusual for a German, “Put your arms down and turn around slowly.” So I thought, “I’ve got no option.” So it was a creek alongside the road so I just threw the gun out and I turned around slowly.
I was a prisoner of war. We marched, they took us up the road about 200 yards and here’s the Germans dug in right across the road. The SS [Schutzstaffel]. They were all dug in. They went around taking watches and all sorts of things off blokes. Then they decided
they’d put us, there was no one to take us back, so they decided they’d put us in the field alongside them and just put guards on the outskirts. So there was approximately 250 men here. They pulled them in and fell in alongside them. We hadn't been there
long and over the hill, about a mile away, came British tanks, all British tanks. They just came over the hill, then they stopped and they started to open fire. We, being alongside the Germans, we looked like it was just a line of Germans, so they opened fire on us too.
They killed quite a few blokes there and they wounded quite a few. Copeland, who had got up there, where he got it from I don’t know, but he got a white sheet and he’s – and major Copeland started to wave
this white sheet, wherever he got it, so that they could see, trying to indicate that we were what we were. All he got out of that, he got shot in the back by the Germans. As soon as he started to wave it around they stood up and they fired at him and he got shot in the back. Fortunately he wasn’t killed.
Eventually the tanks withdrew over the hills and they took us out again over the road and we were heading back. They had guards for us. So we’re heading back down the road. A German anti-tank gun got up and he got off the road, onto the side. As soon as he got onto the side he got bogged.
There was about 4 men with the gun, trying to get up front and he’s trying to dig it out and he couldn’t get it out. So he said, “Hilfe.” Everyone looked at him and no one done anything. He said in no uncertain manners
“Hilfe.” Help to get his gun out. He got a very rude reply. With that he pulled out his pistol and he came up and he said, “You, you and you, help.” So they helped him get his gun out. They had no option. Then we headed down the road and we came to Major Barham and he was
still just lying there. So we got permission to bury him. We buried him down there at the corner. Then we were marching back again under German guard. The Germans were really getting there in force and we were getting off the road and there was an endless stream of Germans coming down the road in transport.
That was the first time we saw the air force. They came over and they bombed the Germans. And unfortunately they bombed us too because that was at the start of the line. We had to scatter from our own air force. Instead of helping us.
They were the only, there was 3 bombers and they were the only 3 I’ve ever seen. They came over and bombed and we scattered as the Germans did, to get off the road. When they came back they had hit a truck, and the Germans were getting very upset. It looked like there was going to be trouble until the
German officer said to the bloke in charge of us “Get them out of here.” So we had to march further up the road and on our way. We marched about 6 miles and it was getting late, getting dark. So the Germans came to a camp that they’d captured. It had
been a stud, and there was all built-up house and with the underneath part was where they used to keep horses. I don’t know who took the horse, whether the Greeks took them before the Germans came or the Germans took them. They moved us in underneath the house because it was very close and easy to guard. They led us down there on the horses’ straw for the night.
In the morning, up and off again.
Because when we were captured they took the officers away straight away. All the officers gone. I don’t even know of any warrant officers there. I think there was, it didn’t make any difference because rank didn’t count then.
When we went on from there we went on to Belgrade and we marched into Belgrade in threes. This shows you how word spreads. We came in the gate and
we were in threes marching up. Somehow, I don’t know how, word gradually came down the line “don’t smile or laugh.” That was all that’s said. We marched, then we halted. There was a bloke behind me, Benson,
he was always carrying on and joking and all sorts of things. He was laughing. There was an old German walking down the line and with that he walked in and punched him in the stomach as hard as he could. Now, how did that start? How did they know that was going to happen?
It came down the line, “Don’t smile or laugh.” For no reason at all. Of course, he didn’t laugh when the German had gone, everyone laughed at Benson. They had a great sense of humour. They could see the funny
side of everything. The Australians, I mean. Don’t know, no matter what happened, they’d see the funny side. They went up and round into the barracks. There was the Serbs were in that branch and the Australians were in this branch. They had one little door.
When it came time to go to your hut, you were allowed to walk around in circles for exercise, this old German used to walk up and he had a whistle and he’d blow the whistle. With that you had to get off the grounds and into your huts. You only had this little door to go through and they’d
be queuing to get through and he’d start firing his gun to get them in. There was a young Australian there, and there was three floors. Every flight of steps he went up he put his head out the window and would yahoo at the German. Then he’d duck in. There was
bullets flying everywhere, ricocheting off the wall when this old bloke would fire at him. He never hit anyone. I don’t know how they didn’t get hit by a ricochet. During the day for a toilet, there was a big trench dug out. That was the toilet. You had to use that is you wanted to go.
It got full as you can imagine. So they dug another trench further back. One poor bloke went up and he wanted to go to the toilet. So there’s little tree there and he’s sitting there. He was going to the toilet. The
old German came up and “Was ist?” “I’m going to the toilet.” “You don’t use that one, you use that one over there” So he said, “Jump in.” The bloke looked at him and he gave him a shove, “Jump in.”
So the bloke grabbed hold of the tree. So he immediately hit his fingers with the pistol until he let go and then he just pushed him and he jumped into the trench. Up to here. We all fished him out and then everyone roared
with laughter. They had to hazard the bloke there. Biggest joke. There was a Sergeant McTigue. He was a fanatic on languages. So he was at these Serbs, he got two Serbs and he’s at them to teach him
to speak Serbian. So they were teaching him. The day came along when we were going the next day. So this fellow who had been teaching McTigue came up and he said, “Please, will you teach me?” “Teach you what?”
“I want to say goodbye to McTigue. Will you teach me please?” “Yeah, we’ll teach you. You want to say ‘goodbye’ to McTigue? We’ll teach you.” So they taught him to say goodbye to McTigue. So he marches up to McTigue and he says
“McTigue, I wish to say goodbye.” Get it? Fortunately McTigue would have the good humour too and he laughed until he killed himself. That’s, I think all the way through they always had a sense of humour.
No matter what happened, they could always get a laugh out of it. That was the big thing.
I said, “I got a bit of meat.” Someone else said, “There’s a bit of meat in mine too.” The bloke said, “Go down the cookhouse. There’s a donkey’s head on the rubbish heap so you’ve probably eaten the rest of the donkey.” Didn't make any difference.
They didn’t, when we went into Belgrade, the main feed we got was from the Serbs was what they call corn bread. We didn’t get much off the Germans. We were getting,
pretty thin then. They didn’t seem to worry about food at that stage. For a long while they didn’t worry about food. We left there and we went to, I think Budapest was where they were going to march us through as an exhibition, to
show the soldiers that they’d captured Australian soldiers and everything in Egypt. They took us up in the train and they pulled up outside Budapest and they unloaded us. Then they started to march us through the town. With that, we started
singing. The Germans were screaming to shut up. So they shut up. Then a team down the other end would start singing. Then the guards had rushed down the other end to stop them from singing there. They were singing Roll out the Barrel and Hang [Out] Your Washing on the Siegfried Line.
When they’d rush down the back, the ones up the front would start singing. They stopped the ones down the back and the front would be singing. This went up and down the line for about quarter of an hour and then they decided they wouldn’t march us through the city because they couldn’t shut us up. That was just a spontaneous thing that happened.
So they loaded us back into the train. Then we went into Budapest itself. On the way in we passed children dressed up in all their glamour, throwing stones at us. Throwing stones at the carriages as we went passed. Went into
Budapest and it’s the first place we got feed. The Red Cross was there. There were a lot of Red Cross ladies and they gave us a bowl of soup and a piece of bread each. But they never smiled. Just served it. They belonged to the Red Cross. They were doing it.
Then they put us on the train and we went down to Maribor. We’d pulled up outside Maribor Camp and they unloaded us and they couldn’t take us into the camp because the French were in there and they had to separate the camp
make room for us. So we had to sleep there for the night. They fed us before we just sleep on the ground. They fed us before and they fed us a bowl of sauerkraut and a piece of bread. That was it. A lot of the blokes just scoffed it down and brought it
straight up again. Their stomach couldn’t take it because they’d never had sauerkraut. Then the next morning they took us down into the camp. That was a dreadful place. The French wouldn’t mix with us. They had
access because they were in the same barracks, there was nothing separated. They weren’t interested in us much at all. You couldn’t get any food. They only had one German doctor who used to come in to attend to them.
If you were reported on the sick parade, you lined up, you went in to see him, and said what was wrong with you, he syringed your ears out and that was it. Doesn’t matter what you had. I think if you had a sore toe he syringed your ears out and out you go. They used to sit around there
and one day a couple of blokes are sitting on the rocks on the side and the German doctor’s coming in. He was a little short sort of a bloke. A little bit on the stout side. Grey beard. He comes along. He never said a word. He comes walking up and the blokes look at him and he said to his mate
“Have a go at Santa Claus,” it was getting near Christmas. “Have a go at Santa Claus.” He walked up and he stopped in front of him. He said, “I might be Santa Claus, but I’ll be home for Christmas. I’ll be home for Christmas, you won’t,” and just walked off. In there we used to have three tiers
to sleep on. Not much food. There was a bloke in there, and Englishman. He was called McInty. He was a busker in England. You know what a busker is? He was sitting there and a bloke came through the
gate, got overalls on, ladder on his shoulder and he says “Heil Hitler,” regards us, “Heil Hitler!” and walks through, puts his ladder up against the building and goes into the main office. I don’t know where he got them from, I think he must have got them from a Frenchman. McInty appears in a pair of overalls, picks up the ladder,
puts it on his shoulder, walks down, “Heil Hitler,” walks out the gate and went down to the local pub, threw the ladder away, went out the local pub busking until he got enough money for a few drinks. Went into the pub. They went down and got him from the pub. He was as drunk as a snail. He done that forever after.
There, the food especially was so bad, blokes were getting all sorts of things. Farmers used to come along to the gate and they’d ask for someone to go and do a day’s work for them. The guards would
give prisoners out to go and work for them during the day and he had to bring them back in the afternoon. You’d go out and work for them and they give you a sandwich or even two sandwiches. The people were all right, they were Austrians, but that’s where they used to come for labour. They used to
call for workers of a morning. You’d line up, any one who wanted to go out to work would line up and he’d say, “You want to go out to work? If someone comes along we’ll send you out.” Some blokes wouldn’t do it. I was there for a while and they couldn’t send me out because I was a sergeant. I had to volunteer. Privates could
be sent out. They used to go on parade and they used to have crutches and everything just to go out to work. They said they wanted fourteen blokes to go out and do a job on a canal for which they would get extra food. Now, extra food, that
was it. You had to have food to more or less live. So I volunteered to go out and work with the blokes. So I was put in charge of fourteen and they send fourteen blokes out to a place called Wolfberg. We were digging a channel across the grounds.
us out and round to the field and we were digging this ease-way across. Lining in the banks and everything. I found that actually we weren’t getting any extra food. I asked the guard about it. He said, “You’re getting extra.” That’s all he said. We went on and
we weren’t getting extra. At the weekends the farmers would come around and get a couple of blokes out to work for the day and give him a sandwich. So I worked there for a while and an officer came out to visit the camp to see what was going on. As soon as he did, I nailed him. I said, “We’re supposed to be getting extra food
for doing this work and we’re not.” He said, “Oh yes, you are.” I said, “No, we’re not.” He said, “What do you mean you’re not?” I said, “We’re not getting any more than we used to get before, which is not very much.” So he said, “Oh, wait a minute.” So he went out. He was talking to the guard for a fair while and he found out that we weren’t getting extra, the guard was taking the
extra food and not giving us any extra. Didn't amount to much, but it amounted to extra. So he came back and he said, “You’re right. I’ll fix it up.” So he locked us up. The next thing a truck arrived and picked up the guard and took him off.
I said, “What the hell’s going on?” So a while later another truck arrived. The officer came in and he said, “Now, you’re trouble makers.” I looked at him. He said, “I’m going to send you to a punishment
camp where you won’t be able to make trouble.” All we’d done was ask for what we were entitled to. So it was just “Oh yeah?” He led us on and we went to the stone quarry. What happened at Wolfberg after that, I don’t know. We got to the stone quarry and there was other blokes there
at the time. We finished up, I think it was about thirty strong. It was an enclosure with rooms for us with 3 bunks. There was four lots of three bunks high and there we had to fall in of a morning on parade order, then they’d march us out to the
stone quarry, half of us. Half of us would go to the cement factory that was at the other end of the flying foxes. For our meals we got more meals, but we had to form up again and march up to the cook house and then have our meal and then we march back and they lock us up again. This routine went on again in the morning. We worked there for some time.
It wasn’t bad. It was hard work. Then two blokes decided they were going to escape. They told us the plan they had. When we marched out for food and they’d drop off on the way down, off they’d go. So we said, “Right-o.”
So, this morning we were marched out for breakfast and two of the biggest men in the camp, they were quite big blokes, and strong, decided that they didn’t want anyone to escape from there, they
were quite happy with what it was and they were prepared to do it till the end of the war. So apparently, they went into the sergeant of the guard and told him. What they didn’t know, there was a very sick bloke called Makepeace and he was lying in the top bunk. He heard them talking and he heard them talking to the guard.
So he informed us when we came back. Then I went up to breakfast just like the rest. When we came back the guard came in and he said, “Actually I’m not German, I’m Czechoslovakian.
I know what two of you men expect to do. Now, I’ve got no choice. If they try to escape I’ve got to shoot them and I will. But I’m telling you now, don’t try it.” which was very good of him. He said, “I know all about it.”
So he went out and it was then that Makepeace told us who’d done it. I know one of their name, the other was from South Australia, but I won’t mention his name because he’s since died. It wouldn’t do any good anyway. We stay there a while.
Actually they did try to escape the following week. They got away, but they didn’t get far. They were caught. We went back in there. We were working in the stone quarry. At the cement factory we used to go down to the cement factory and you had trucks pull coal dust and you had to unload it for the furnaces down there. We
used to get, we had an hour to unload the truck, a big truck of coal. Then we found out that we could open all the doors and scoop it out and do it in twenty minutes and then have ten minutes rest. So we used to do that. When the truck came up to go onto the other track and turn around on the other track you just leave it
slightly off and it’d come off the rails. That’d give you another break. The Jerries [Germans] never woke up to that. Then the other blokes that used to work issuing the cement to the locals. They used to put it on a slide and slide it down. They’d say, “Four bags.” So they’d just slide four bags down. They got so that every
now and again they used to do a bargain with the bloke down below. He'd throw them up a sandwich or something and they’d stick an extra bag on and slide it down. This went on all the time. In the stone quarry we used to quarry the mine. They had a civvy [civilian] used to do the blasting. We used to quarry it and load it onto trucks and put a pin in just to hold it in place while
it went round the bend and tipped into the flying foxes. Then we got the idea of every now and again we’d send a truck down we’d leave the pin out. When it went round the bend it’d tip out and it would all tip on the ground. There were all sorts of tricks we got up to that they couldn’t tell. One day, it was
coming towards winter, they came in and said, “You’ll get out in the morning in the dark, because the days are getting shorter. You’ll have your breakfast and then you go to work in the dark. The lights will be switched on and you’ll start work
in the dark.” So we thought, “Bugger that.” We thought, “We haven’t got the clothes for it for winter. There’s really not enough food.” There was thirty of us, we held a meeting. We said, “Bugger it. We won’t do it.” Next morning they came in,
marched us out and said, “Right turn,” and no one moved. The German said, “Right turn,” no one moved. Then he says “Was ist?” We said, “We’re not working. We’re not going to work in the dark. Our clothes are not good enough and we’re not getting our food.” With that he wheeled us back inside and locked us up.
We were there for about two hours and an officer came out from the Maribor. He said, “Right!” Lined us up again. He said, “Now, when I say right turn, you will right turn. When I say quick march, you will march out to work.” We all just stood there. So he said, “Right turn,” and no movement.
“Right turn,” no movement. So he looked at us and he said, “You, you, you, step forward.” Three blokes stepped forward. He said, “Now, when I say right turn you will right turn and march to work. If you don’t I’ll shoot these three men.”
Everyone’s sort of thinking. With that, the bloke in the middle, he stepped forward and he said, “You can bloody shoot me now, because I’m not going out. If I go out there in these clothes, without food, I’ll finish up dead anyway. You can bloody well shoot me.” With
that the officer looked for a while. Back in the barracks again. We were in there for about an hour and they called us out again. Lined us up. He said, “Right, I’ve discussed it with my senior officers and if you guarantee to work for a fortnight without any trouble at all
we’ll take you and put you on farms.” Farms was the job, because that’s where all the food was. So a lot of mumbling and discussion and we were, “This is all right, we’re doing that.” So we said we would. So we did. We were marched out for a fortnight, we worked,
done everything we were told. We came back and trucks arrived on the dot on the fortnight. They parked about two hundred yards down from us. Then they came up and loaded us onto the trucks and took us to Gratkorn to go on farms. The blokes, we’d never spoken to them at all,
they came in, they were in the place, they went on strike, they refused to work and they shot three of them. Just like that, shot them. How we, I say how we got away with it, I don’t know, but the time we done it the Red Cross was inspecting
Maribor and we think there might have been an influence that saved us that day. They took us to Gratkorn.
couldn’t do anything. You had to reserve all your energy. If you got the Red Cross parcels they were no good on their own. If you decided “I’ll do it on my own,” they were no good. Because once you opened a tin, you had to eat it or it would go off. Whereas if you had three of you and you were all together, you could
sort of cook these. But they were very important. At times they were pretty slow in coming. If they were good they’d come at regular intervals. You had to have them. Couldn’t exist without Red Cross parcels,
at one stage we went without them for a long while for some reason. Blokes had pets. Cats, birds, all sorts of things they had as pets. They used to die off. Blokes used to get cats, kill them, skin them, take them to the cook house and get it cooked. Not their own cats, other cats. Take them up
and in the cook house you had a certain amount of blokes were in the cook house. You had to take your stuff up there and put it in and they cooked it for you. It had a name on a tag and at a certain time you’d come up and collect it. They’d give it out according to the tag. On one occasion a bloke at the corner, his cat had disappeared.
He went up the cook house at lunchtime and he waited for him to come up, and sure enough, they came along when they called out the name and it was his cat that was killed. There was hell to pay. No, without them it was very, very hard. When we got on the
farms you didn’t need them. You used to get them occasionally, not very often, and I used to do my escape, when I started to get my strength back and everything was OK I used to store it. There was beds for thirty men in the hut we were in, but there was only three of us in it. I used to
store them in the palliasse. There was chocolates in them - and I used to store them in that. When I escaped I had a whole heap of food that was stored there. That’s the way I done it, through the Red Cross. You didn’t need them when you were on the farms. I was on three farms altogether before I got to the final one.
My first one, you’ve got no idea what the farm’s like. They were [peasant UNCLEAR] farmers, they can’t have you to work for them unless they’ve got somewhere to lock you up of a night time because you’re on your honour you’re not to try and escape during the day and they’ve got to lock you up at night. If they’ve got nowhere to lock you up they can’t have a prisoner
of war. The first one I was at they used to thresh the wheat over a log, this is for their own use. Then you had to shovel it into a sieve and turn the handle. It’d sift it down three layers to get the wheat at the bottom. That’s the way they used to have it.
They got permission to kill a pig. I had to wrap around the back legs and I had to hold the back legs. The grandmother sat on the pig to keep it down, the farmer cut its throat and the wife had a tray
and she held it under its neck to catch the blood until it was dead. She’d off with the blood, grandmother would go back inside and the old bloke, I’d help him drag the pig up to a trough and he’s scrub it down there and then he’d carve it up. He wouldn’t waste a thing.
He had a cow there. He used to plough the field with the cow. He used to milk it. When it was due to be served, he asked me if I wanted to go with him. I said, “Yes.” We had to lead it five miles to get it served. We put its head in a brace, get it served
and then scrub its back so it wouldn’t hunch up when it finished and then lead it back home. It had a calf and then when it was having the calf, they were all kept in stalls all the time, the wife would hold the head
and eventually when the feet got out I had to grab hold of the feet and as the cow heaved she’d say, “Pull,” and I had to pull until eventually it got out. That’s how the calf was born. The calf was there for two weeks. A German with a big St Bernard
dog arrived, picked it up, took it away. They weren’t allowed to have a calf. Everything was kept on stalls. The cow was used when they had to get coal down at the railway. They had to hitch the cow up to a truck, it had to pull it right down the railway and get the coal and pull it back.
It was absolutely unbelievable. We went in, first time I was there, to sit down for a meal. I used to eat with them. They said grace, put a bowl of sauerkraut and stuff in the middle of
the table, said grace, then they all into it with spoons. I just sat there looking. When they saw I wasn’t eating they stopped and said, “Was ist?” I said, “No, I don’t eat like that.” Finally I talked into getting my own plate. When we killed
the pig, it was winter and there was snow on the ground. When I finished killing it they said, “You go down the bottom to the woodshed to cut some wood.” So I went down the woodshed and I was cutting the wood. The grandmother came down to me and said, “Like piece of cake?” I looked at
her and I looked at the cake and thought, “It’s all right.” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “Have a piece of cake.” So I took a piece of cake and I thought, “This is all right.” So I stood there and I started eating it. It was quite good. I was about halfway through it when I suddenly realised what it was. It was the blood. That's as far as it went.
They locked me up in my room of a night time. They used to, I demanded a bucket of warm water. They couldn’t understand it. The old bloke there, he wasn’t a bad old soul, he came up and he was going to lock me up. He was sitting there watching me and trying to talk.
I had a blade razor I’d bought off the Germans. So I had a wash and I got out the blade razor and I was having a shave. Soon as I got out the blade razor he said, “Me no Nazi.” Went out the door and locked that door. I don’t know what he thought I was going to
do. I worked there for about a month. We used to have Sundays free. Sometimes I used to go back to the main set-up to see if there was any Red Cross parcels or any mail or anything and have a talk with the blokes. Sometimes I used to just go
across the road about two miles to where another bloke was working. I used to talk to him for someone to talk to. Eventually she came out, and she said to me “You work Sundays.” I said, “No.” She said, “I say you work, you work.” I said, “Sunday nichts. No work.”
She said, “I say you work, you work.” I said, “No.” She said, “I am boss. I say Sunday you work, you work Sunday.” So with that I went up, I had a palliasse, packed everything in it and I headed back to the camp. She followed me up the hill saying that I worked Sundays, I worked Sundays until I got to the
top of the hill and she could see I was serious and then she called me for everything. I went back type of thing to the camp, I went in and the guard nearly fell over. He said, “What’s this?” I said, “No, I won’t finish. Nichts, fertig.” He said, “Was ist?” I said, “No arbeit. Nichts, fertig.” So he locked me up
and had a big conference and apparently found another farm that would take me. They had about six heifers and I used to have to look after them. I used to clean the stalls out, feed them, and that’s all I done. It was down on the main road to the town. So after a while, getting bored,
I used to go and do my job, I’d feed the heifers and then I’d go out. I’d sit at the front fence. As the girls went passed I whistled at them. This went on for a long, I never got any results. You’d see some of them laugh to themselves. I’d just whistle as they went passed. I went down and
finally I was feeding the heifers and I had a melon to put in the grinder. I pushed down too far and I caught my thumb. I was in a hell of a trouble. Started to bleed everywhere. So they sent for the guard. He came down and he decided I’d better go and see the doctor. I was wrapped up in a towel. So away we went down to the
doctor’s. Went into the doctor’s. All civilians were pushed aside. If you were a soldier, doesn’t matter who’s side you were on, you were first. I went into the doctor’s and he said, “What’s up?” and the guard told him. He said, “Give us your arm.” So he got my arm under
his, I’m standing behind him, the guard’s watching me. He got the fingernail and he yanked it off. Oh God. Then he bandaged it up. “You’re all right.” So away I went, the guard marched me back to the farm.
By the time I got back there, the whole thumb was just a mass of blood. So the guard says “You work,” I said, “No, I’m sick.” So he looked at the thumb so we had to go back to the doctor’s. We went back type of thing he doctor’s and he took the bandage off and bandaged it up again. Then sent me back and they sent me back to work. I said to the guard “No, no, no, can’t, I’m sick.
I won’t work.” So he took me back to the guest house. I went back there and while I was there the Gestapo [German secret police] came up and they said, “Get him off the farm. He’s too familiar with the civilians.” That’s because I was whistling at the girls. They said, “Get him off.”
So I stayed at the farm there for a while and then the guest house used the Bürgermeister [mayor]. He put me on at his place. He had two men working for him and I worked there for, I was starting to get good. Cut the,
I done the siding, I’d never done it before in my life, but I learned to side in there. I used to cut all the wood, it was quite a big guest house, and bring it into the fire for the stove. Just do what I had to do. They didn’t
worry about me. I used to just wander around the place and do these jobs and do that job and have a drink of cider out of the cellar and all this. I had a free hand. I used to feed, they had a guard dog there, I used to feed him so he thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. I stayed there for a period of time and then
I decided “I’ve got my strength back, I’m going to escape.” So I had a free run of the place. I used to sleep in the loft at times, during the day. I’m sleeping in there one day and I seen a bloke who worked for him, a German, I heard the noise down below. So I sneaked over the edge
and I saw this German hiding eggs down a hole they had down the side. So he used to steal the eggs off them and I used to steal eggs off him and take them back and cook them in the night. I used to have a free run. They’d tell me what they wanted me to do and I’d do it. They
didn’t worry about other times as long as I done what they asked me. They had two stallions there, big stallions. I used to lead them when they used to plough the fields. They had an old bloke used to ride them. I used to lead them until a mare came down the road and then the stallions would start rearing up in the air and I wasn’t going to be around that,
so I let them go. I decided to escape so I thought, “I’ve stored a lot of Red Cross parcels in the palliasse.” So I decided that I’d give it a go. So I tried to work out a plan. I got a local and I was talking to him and he brought out a plan. He had shown me walks because
I used to go for walks. It was a map of the area. So I didn’t say anything to him. I gave him a couple of cigarettes and just talking to him. Then I gave him a couple of more cigarettes and I said, “Can I have this?” He said, “Yes.” So I put it in my pocket. It was a plan of where to go. During the day when no one was around I’d
go in the backroom, because when the guard let you out of a morning he’d take off and go to the local pub or somewhere. I got the hacksaw, I went up and they had a window at the end and they had all bars down it. So gradually I sawed through the bars. I’d saw them out and I’d just leave a thread hanging at the top to
hold them and then I’d get soap and I’d put soap in them and get dirt and rub it over it. I’d sawed three bars out of the window, the guard used to come in every night, look up and down the room and say, “Guten Nacht,” [good night] and walk out. So when the time came to escape I had to tell everyone because I didn't know what happened
when I did escape. I they wanted to escape they had to be in it then, because they mightn’t get another chance. Well, there was I was there in the room and there was two Kiwis [New Zealanders] and there was another big Kiwi that worked on the place who I thought was marvellous. There was another
Kiwi that was working at another farm, but they had nowhere to lock him away, but they were close to the centre so they used to bring him in, he used to be locked up at night time. When I told them I was going to escape the big Kiwi didn’t want to come with me, he was quite happy where he was. It was the place to be, on a farm. The other bloke who
used to get locked up there, he said, “Can I come with you?” I said, “It’ll be right as long as you’ve got some of your Red Cross food.” He said, “Yeah.” And another English bloke, Gawler Wright, was on another farm and he decided he wanted to go too. So I said
“You meet on the top of the hill at 12 o'clock. You’ve got to be there by 12 o'clock because I can’t afford to wait till daylight.” When the night came I used to feed the guard dog. When the night came I just grabbed three bars, pulled them out of the window, got out with a tin of herrings in tomato sauce,
got the guard dog, took him around the other side of the building and gave him a feed of herrings in tomato sauce while the other bloke go out. Then we got all our stuff and we headed up the hill. When we got up the hill the other fellow, Gawler Wright, was waiting there for us and away we went. We went down, we went through the village, and then we were going across a bridge. We didn’t know whether they had a guard
on the other end or not. I’d worked out a plan and I decided we had to cross the bridge to go where we were going. So we had to take the risk. As it was, good, there was no one there. We crossed over the bridge and we headed off along into where we were going. I got out
the map. It showed this map walkway right along and it showed where it went down right along to some timber huts where the Jewish people used to work. Then I went up over the hill of a mountain and right at the top it showed a ski hut for people who got caught out, stranded, where they could get food
and supplies. So I worked out, if we follow this track down, we go along to the timber hut. If there’s no one there we can sleep in there, and then the next day we go up and over the mountain, we can raid the ski hut and get some food, and continue on over the mountain. What I didn’t know was
the map was probably as old as I am. We followed it down all the way. First of all we tried walking in the forest of a night time. I found out that when we got in the forest you couldn’t see anything. It was absolutely pitch black. You couldn’t keep track of each other. So we had to come out. We decided we’d walk in the night time and
go into the bushes in the day and hide. Well, we succeeded in that and we got down to the timber huts and there was no one there so we slept there for the night. The next morning we were off first thing. We went along the track and we followed it along. It was true. We went right a long and we got up to
where it went over the mountain and where the ski hut was. You don’t want to know, there wasn’t a ski hut there. There was a resort. A hotel. There were skiers everywhere. Skiing all over the place. We said, “God, what do we do now?” Fortunately at the very time we got there, almost ten minutes after we got there,
a bell rang. Real loud. All the skiers went into the hotel for tea. We crossed over and down the other side. You’ve got no idea. We scooted down the other side and we came, Gawler Wright could speak perfect German. We were going down the other side
and a group of two blokes, I think they were two blokes, sang out to us. Gawler said to him, “Be on your way, no need to fear, we’re soldiers in their duties.” With that they went off the other way as fast as you like. We went down and we got down to the bottom and it’s getting daylight and we crossed the
road then. We crossed it and we said, “We’ve got to get somewhere to hide because it’s going to be daylight soon and there’ll be people all over the place.” The only place we could see was a knoll behind a cornfield. I said, “We’ll go up there and we’ll stay there for the day.” So we went through the cornfield and we got up on the knoll. We looked down back at the knoll and you could see the track
through the cornfield where we walked. It was a distinct track. We thought, “If anyone wakes up!” But fortunately they didn’t. The next day we took off along the road going towards a place called Bruck. During the night, we’re walking along, and as we came down the road you could see the
fire on the side off the road. As we got closer there was a guard on it. We thought, “What the hell do we do now?” So we thought, “There’s nothing much you can do, but try and bluff your way through,” because they’d seen us walking down the road. As we got down near it, it was cold and the guard stayed near the fire. He sang out
“Was ist?” and Gawler said, “We’re late for work, we’re going to work.” The bloke said, “You’d better hurry up.” We hurried up. We went right through and we got out the other side and got about a mile out of the town, it was only a small town. There was a big factory there, I don’t know what it was, and Gawler said, “I’ve feel crook.
I’ve got to lay down.” So we looked around and there was bushes there. They weren’t very high but they were bushes so we got into the bushes and lay down and put our overcoat over him and snuggled into him to keep him warm. We’re sitting there and daylight came. The next thing, a Gestapo bloke comes along and parks his bike out the front and starts checking passes as they
go past. There are the three of us, not 50 yards, behind him. We had to lay there. We lay there all day and not making a sound. Gawler came round, he seemed to be all right again. So eventually the bloke went on his way, done his checking for the day, so he went on his way. So we took off again and went down and over the hill.
Up on the tip of the hill we went into the bushes there and there was a creek so we had a wash in it. Freezing water. Had a great old wash and then headed down the other side. We got down just outside Bruck. It was a hill looking down over Bruck and we were running out of food. It just hadn't gone the distance. So we thought, “What do we do now? We’ve still
got at least” we were heading for Switzerland, see. We thought we’d got at least four hundred miles to go. So we decided that although it was taboo, we’d jump a train and try to jump a train. There was a rail centre in the middle of the town.
So we waited till it got dark and we headed into town. We were heading up and down the railway looking for some sign of anything going to Switzerland so we could see if we could hide ourselves on it anywhere. We were walking up and down and it’s starting to get daylight and we were walking up towards the end of a rail tracks
and a Gestapo bloke came round there and he stopped and he looked at us and then he took off. So we said, “What do you reckon?” I said, “Well, we’ve been spotted now. There’s no way we can get out of town. If we try to get out of town
we’ll probably get shot by trying to avoid the Gestapo. So the best thing we can do is give up and try another time.” We’d been out for a fortnight. So eventually we went into town. We tried looking for the Gestapo, knock at doors and they’d open the door and as soon as you say Gestapo they slam it.
Eventually we found a Gestapo place and we went and knocked at the door and no answer. Knocked at the door again, no answer. So we opened the door and walked in and the place was empty. They were all out looking for us. So we just collapsed on the floor and went to sleep. When the Gestapo came back we were on the floor asleep.
From there they took us to a camp. There was a camp of POWs in the rail centre, Englishmen. They took us down there to stow us away in there until they were ready to move us. They wouldn’t speak to us. They wouldn’t have anything to do with us. They thought we were a set-up.
They weren’t really interested. You could see. They were sort of thinking “I’m not going to fall for this.” Eventually they took us back to Spittal by truck.
information they could get. Everyone that escaped and came back they’d milk him straight away for information. They done everything they could to help you. They built a tunnel. So they could build it, they made a garden outside and they used to get the soil in bags
and a bloke would walk around the garden and just drop the soil so they couldn’t recognise it, to disguise it, to conceal it. If you wanted to escape you had to put your name down. The blokes who worked on the tunnel, they were first to be able to go out. There were blokes there,
there was one Englishman, he wouldn’t escape because he had a family. He wouldn’t risk it. But he’d risk climbing up and cutting a hole in the wire to get out. He’d risk doing that, but he wouldn’t escape himself. There was blokes used to start
tunnels themselves. One of them tunnelled under the road, foolishly, he tunnelled under the road and when a truck came down the road it just sank and filled in the tunnel. This was going on all the time. The escape committee had another idea. The Red Cross parcels used to come in and they used to go into a hut and they were unwrapped
and then distributed to you. All the wrapping used to go back into the bags and they’d carry them out and dump them in the shed outside the camp. They got the idea, the little blokes, anyone who was little. They used to, when they were filling up the bags they used to put a man in and put the rubbish in on top of him and then,
it was mainly Kiwis that used to do it because the Kiwis used to just throw it over their shoulders, carry it out, dump it in the shed. Night fall just out he goes. You name it, they thought of it. When I finally got out there, my last escape when I got back to Neustadt,
they’d decided to move the, the Americans had landed, they were advancing on Nuremberg so they decided to move the prisoners back on a forced march. So they issued orders. “Tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock, you’ve all got to be up and
lined up outside your huts ready to march out. When you march out we’ll take dogs over the camp with guards. Anyone who’s found will be shot.” That’s all there was to it. A mate of mine used to work in the cook house. A Kiwi.
We decided that there was no way we were going to march back. So we had a discussion with the sergeant major in charge of the cook house and we decided, there was the cook house and there were cellars down below where they used to keep mainly potatoes to feed you. So we decided we’d go down in the cellar.
There was a whole heap of potatoes down there, we’d shovel them out, dig a hole in the wall underneath the room above, clear it out, board it up and shovel all the potatoes back so it just looked like a big bundle of potatoes. Go upstairs. We had arranged with someone to
take the stove out of the corner, it had a plate underneath it. He lifted it out, we’d saw a hole down into where we’d cleaned it out, put the plate back on top and the stove on top. It had carbine lamps. We’d take the carbine lamp and break it and throw it all over the room so the dogs wouldn’t come near it. So we started that and then
there wasn’t enough of us. We were only three. We thought, “Hell, we’ll never get it cleaned out in time.” So we enlisted 3 others. We promised them room. We enlisted three others to help us clear out the room. Well, in the meantime the sergeant major, he was a family man, he decided that he wasn’t going to risk it. He’d said he’d help out, but he wasn’t going to risk
getting down the hole. So we did, we cleaned it out and we got it all done in time. We shovelled it back and you could look and it was just like it had been before. So we went up top, we got down the hole, took our blankets and whatever with us, they put the stove over the top and they threw the carbine everywhere.
Well, they moved out the next morning, we heard a noise for a while and then it gradually quietened down. There was no noise coming out at all. So we decided we had to get out for natural reasons. So we got out and when we
looked outside we were peeping round corners. The whole camp had gone, there was stuff all over the place. Then gradually blokes appeared from everywhere. Some had buried themselves and had a pipe in their mouth and just lay there and stayed there under the hut until they reckoned everyone had gone. I think there was twenty-five altogether that escaped that way. We got out, we cut a hole in the
barbed wire at the back in case they raided the front, so we had somewhere to get out the back. We went down to the local village. There was a small village just down from the camp down there. We got eggs and chooks and there was white flags hanging out everywhere. They didn’t know what to expect. They thought the
Americans were coming, all black, and they were worried about what they’d do. We assured them they wouldn’t. We went down there two days and we got fruit, we got eggs and a lot of talk. On the third day we decided we weren’t going to go down there again. It was a waste of time.
The SS moved back through the town and every bloke that went down there that day never heard of again. Just took them. So we were actually very lucky. It was just a spur of the moment thing. We stayed in the camp for 3 days and then we decided, there was three of us together,
“Right, we’ve had this. We’re going to get back to the American lines.” So we took off. We walked across the field and we were out in the open and four tanks, three or four, came round the bend about, must have been half a mile away from us.
We were watching these and we wondered who they are. So we kept walking and walking and finally there was a Yank, an American tank. He said, “Where do you blokes think you’re going to?” We told him who we were. We told him there was a hospital up there with sick and they wouldn’t have anything to do with us because they had waived their rights
to protection from the Geneva Convention. We said, “Yeah.” He said, “Have you got any identification?” I had my pay book. I showed him that and he looked at that. He said, “Have you got any arms?” We said, “No.” He said, “I’ll give you some arms.” He’s still looking.
He looked at me and he said, “Prisoner of war, are you?” “Yeah.” “You’re awfully well dressed for a prisoner of war.” I’d saved my clothes up. I’d promised myself that I’d go out there dressed properly. I’d saved my clothes up and I had them all on because I was going out of there. I explained
and finally he came around and he said, “We’re at least seventy miles in front of the others. I’m telling you now, get off the road in the night time because the Germans shoot first and ask questions afterwards. The Americans shoot first and ask questions otherwise.
So, I strongly advise you to get off the road in the night.” So he gave us arms and away we went. He headed up to the hospital. We headed back and we got to a little town and we thought we’d better get off the road. So we went in there and knocked and woke a bloke up.
He didn’t want anything to do with us at first. Then he saw we were armed so he let us in and said he’d give us somewhere to sleep for the night. So he pointed to a room upstairs. We went up there to sleep and in the night time, I don’t know who, whether it was Yanks or Germans, shelled the village. So we all dived out of bed, we hadn't taken our boots off or anything because we were prepared.
We raced down to the cellar. When we got down to the cellar there was this bloke down there and he’s got 3 daughters there so there was no way, he didn’t want us there. We stayed there for the night. The shelling eased off. We came out in the morning and we went off again and we headed off to where we were going. We knew where Nuremberg was. So we walked down the street and we came to another fair size village and they had a
restaurant there. We thought, “Bugger this.” We went into the restaurant and just stood at the counter and asked for a coffee. We got coffee and toast, no questions asked. They gave us coffee and toast and when we came out of that there was a few civilians around. They said, “Don’t go up there, there’s Nazis up there. There’s Nazis here and Nazis there.” So
we thought, “Bugger it, we know where we're going.” So we headed further down the road to a crossroad. We knew when you get down to the crossroad you turn right and that goes towards Nuremberg. So we got down there and we turned right. We’d gone about a mile along the road and these troops came over
the hill and they were too far away to discern who they were. The Germans and the Americans looked much alike in the distance. So Spence said to me “What do you reckon?” I said, “we’ve got no choice. If we go to dart off and they see us go to dart off they’ll open up on us no matter what they are. We’ll just have to keep walking
and hope for the best.” So we kept walking. I think they felt they could walk 10 miles. We came up this hill and a bloke popped out from behind a tree and he said, “Where do you guys think you’re going?” It was the Americans. They had just taken Neustadt. So they took us back into Neustadt, they questioned us
Apparently the American officer said, “The Germans are withdrawing in blocks. You don’t know how lucky you are. You’re right between two blocks. You’ve walked between them to get here.” We didn’t know. I came out of being questioned
and we’re talking to the Yanks outside and a Yank says to me “How long has it been since you had a beer?” I said, “Four years.” It’s been four years.” He said, “You’re joking.” He said, “Stay here.” He went away and I was talking to the
others there and he came down the hill with and eighteen gallon barrel. Rolled it down the hill. So we promptly got full. Then we stayed with them for three weeks I think before they were going to move on further. We stayed with them and the Yank says “What would you like to eat?”
I couldn’t think of anything else but chicken. Cooked chicken. I said, “Yeah, chicken.” He said, “Can’t you do any better than that?” I said, “No, that’ll do me, chicken.” He said, “All right, get your rifle.” So I got the rifle and we went out and we were heading for a German farm. The farmer came out and you could see him chasing all these chooks out of the
yard. He said, “There you are. If you want one, shoot one.” So I promptly had a shot and he said, “God, no wonder you’re a prisoner of war.” Then we had our chicken feed and roamed around a bit round there and had a good time then they were going forward and we were going back. So he said
“Nuremberg is that way. You’ll be lucky to get a lift because all the traffic’s going forward. We’ll see you. Just follow that road along and eventually you’ll get to Nuremberg.” So we were walking along the road and we walked a couple of miles and a
Jeep came along, going our way. So as it went past I signalled for a ride, it didn’t stop at all. So I yelled “You lousy B.” With that it skidded to a halt, turned around and came back and he said, “What did you say?” I said, “You’re a lousy B.
All we want is a bloody ride.” He said, “What are you?” I said, “They’re Kiwis and I’m Australian.” “Oh, God, I thought you were French. I wouldn’t feed them. Get on.” He drove us into Nuremberg.