expedition was successful in that we found a rhubarb field which
we gleaned and also managed to find about 10lb of potatoes; also
Ted called on the camp butcher for whom he had just completed
a big job in the joinery line and found him killing a pig out
of which he presented Ted with the liver. We returned to our
quarters with our spoils of war to find that a friend had sent
a bottle of wine whose source we did not enquire and so we had
our best meal for some time after which we went happily to bed
talking of being home in a week.
Then came the morning and with it our spirits fell again to a
new low. During the night the SBO had a stormy interview with
the Russian authorities who would not agree to our evacuation
and insisted that we should move into the Adolf Hitler Camp of
recent unhappy memory. At this the SBO told them that he would
resign his position as he would be unable to issue such an order
to his men but the Russians refused to accept his resignation
and there the matter rested for some hours. Meanwhile another
unofficial exodus took place and about midday the Russians climbed
down and said that no obstacle would be placed against our evacuation.
Shortly after this a convoy of American ambulances arrived to
carry off the sick and this was very encouraging but in addition
the drivers brought news that 180 lorries would come the next
day to complete the evacuation. Once again spirits rose but after
previous experiences no one was too confident, especially after
the Russian confrontation with the SBO whom I should mention
by name - he is Wing Commander Collard ('Dick') who has performed
a difficult task with distinction.
The last two weeks have really been a great strain on us all
and nerves in some cases are close to breaking point but our
group of four has been fortunate in having work to do so that
we are all in good heart.
May 6 1945.
The expected lorries began to arrive - only 25 at first - and
were halted by the Russians about 2 miles from the camp as there
was still no agreement with them. The American enlisted men,
who had been living in the worst conditions, formed up in small
parties to march to the lorries and two thirds of these got away
fully loaded before the Russians used armed force to prevent
any further evacuation.
More lorries continued to arrive and we were all warned to stand
by as it was expected that the Russian Commandant would receive
his orders at any time; our hopes were boosted by news from the
American Captain in charge of the lorries that he had orders
from Supreme Allied HQ to evacuate Americans, British, Norwegian,
French and Belgian personnel in that order.
However no movement took place on Sunday with the Russians still
adamant and indeed our position was much the same as in the past
with armed patrols surrounding the camp.
went by with no progress except that many men made their way
to the lorries which were still waiting for the 'off', while
we were told to resume operations in the workshop as before.