Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945
Commandant - a Major in the Luftwaffe - was the not uncommon
type in Germany who has to shout loudly even in polite conversation
and during the lunch break on this second day he yelled at one
of our officers who was sitting on a snow covered milestone;
neither party could understand the other's language and we were
afraid that our colleague was in dire trouble for some unknown
crime. However when an interpreter was found, it transpired that
the Major was merely advising the Officer not to sit on the cold
snow as there was a danger of contracting piles.
All the way we had no difficulty in getting water from cottages
along the route and on this second day we halted after 17 kilometres
at a large farm in a village called Gross Selten near Priebus.
Fortunately our two front men had found for us a little room
adjoining a stable covered with straw on a brick floor and deriving
some warmth from the stable. This was a great improvement on
the previous night with access to a water tap where we could
wash and water was boiled in the farm kitchen so that everyone
got a cup of tea. After supper the 11 of us bedded down close
together for warmth and we slept like logs until about 6am when
we were able to get some cooked potatoes from one of the Polish
workmen at the farm.
Quite early in the morning it was announced that no move would
be made that day so we busied ourselves in making a small fire
in the farmyard from bits of wood which were lying around. Soon
the yard was dotted with little fires and crouching figures bending
over the smoke endeavouring to do some elementary cooking in
the few utensils which we had brought along.
I should have mentioned that on the second day we saw many tanks
and lorries of Panzer divisions which had been driven back from
the battle front and which had become so disorganised that they
drove back into Germany as far as their petrol would take them
and then stopped, absolutely cut off from their units. Some tanks
were quartered with us at this farm on the third day and before
long brisk bargaining was going on with the tank crews for their
iron rations - mainly a kind of Ryvita crispbread called 'Knackebrot'.
It really was an astonishing incident, but an even more surprising
episode took place in the evening when the tank commander returned
from a day foraging in the area with his small car; this he unwisely
left unguarded in the yard with a plump goose on the back seat.
Within an hour or so the goose was stolen, plucked, cooked and
eaten [by the Germans] following which there was a tremendous
row when he discovered his loss; all kinds of dire penalties
were threatened but he was finally pacified by the gift of 200
cigarettes and a bar of chocolate.
The third night was spent in relative comfort for everyone compared
with our first night and we were ready to move out from Gross
Selten early on Wednesday morning. Some attempt was made each
morning at a roll call but it was not very serious and did not
delay our departure. Meanwhile wild rumours were circulating
to the effect that a new Government had been formed in Germany
and that our troops had crossed the Rhine; all this was completely
without foundation and in fact we were totally without news throughout
the march although a wireless set had been smuggled along with
us. But this was for use at our next camp and was not used on
the march as its component parts were carried by several individuals.
On Wednesday afternoon the weather improved greatly and the sun
made a brief appearance; unhappily this spell of warm weather
coincided with the first stretch of hilly country which we had
to negotiate and we all suffered considerably.
1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall
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