object of the Allied scheme was to secure order and smooth administration
within the camp and this entailed departments for Police, Security,
Works Supply, Communications and Food. Also as far as possible
it aimed at protecting the camp from external menace and for
this purpose Intelligence and Reconnaissance units were formed.
The chief of the scheme was the Senior Officer in the camp who
was General Ruge - a Norwegian.
From my position at the inner gate I was able to watch developments
and almost immediately search parties discovered scattered groups
of Germans who elected to stay behind; these were temporarily
lodged in the cooler before being ejected or handed over in due
course to the Russians. A squad of men quickly got to work on
the telephone system which was one of the first things wrecked
by the Germans before leaving and this section did a fine job.
In addition to repairing the existing internal system they laid
new wires to various points within our barracks so that the SBO's
room was linked up during this afternoon. They also rounded up
all the radio sets in the German compound and had most barracks
equipped with radio by the following day. A considerable amount
of guns and ammunition was found and stored away in safe keeping
by a group of Irish Guards who were captured at Dunkirk.
The only incident of note during my first two hour spell of duty
was the arrival of an excited Russian who made desperate efforts
to get out; a Polish Officer who was acting as Russian interpreter
found that this man was a German collaborator and he was alarmed
at his prospects if he stayed in camp. Fortunately, about this
time, some senior men among the Russian prisoners arrived to
help with the running of the camp and they were able to cooperate
more than we had expected.
At three o'clock I went off duty and had four hours rest during
which time I could observe the almost incredulous attitude of
the camp at the sudden disappearance of the Germans. Everyone
was quiet and no one felt very elated because some of the Americans
had a similar experience in Poland only for the Germans to return
the following day and march them West.
By 7pm when I went back to my post the noise of battle became
very loud and we could see that fighting was going on almost
all around the camp with only an escape route to the NW left
to the Germans. Both side however respected the camp and no shells
or fighting took place in the close proximity. By this time I
was at the main gate which was an interesting spot commanding
a big stretch of open country to the N and W.
We had orders to refuse admittance to any civilians of whatever
nationality and also to confiscate all food brought in by prisoners
from working parties seeking shelter within the camp. A few women
had to be turned away in a somewhat hysterical state but our
main trouble was in escorting some French and Italian POW to
the food store carrying quantities of food (even live rabbits)
which they had looted in the town. Naturally they objected strongly
to giving it up but all food entering the camp was deemed to
April 22 1945.
During the night I slept lightly on the guard room floor after
being on duty at the other end of the camp from 1am until 3am.
This period was quiet except for a burst of fire from an aircraft
which flew low over the camp but fortunately no casualties were