Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945 
 23 May 1945 to 25 May 1945

Latterly I had been going out on joinery jobs with Ted and Ray as a very unskilled carpenter's mate and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Soon we were all loaded on to the lorries, about 90 of them with 25 men to each lorry - it was all American transport - and included were a few civilian refugees who claimed British nationality under our protection. Three RAF men were left behind having married women refugees and were not allowed to travel with us - to most of us it appeared a foolish business having been done without consent of the SBO and no doubt their arrival home would be much delayed.
As usual it took a long time to get going but by two o'clock all the lorries were heading West through Freuenbritzen, much was damaged, and on to the Halle autobahn. Our journey was eventful to say the least as the Germans had blown up many bridges over and under the autobahn so that frequently a lengthy detour had to be made through woods; this was rough treatment for the lorries which in any case were handled far from gently by the Russian drivers.
About seven o'clock we reached the River Elbe at Coswig near Dessau and were very relieved to see American soldiers waiting on the other side; the bridge was destroyed so we crossed on foot over a pontoon bridge to board American lorries. We were still in Russian territory for a few miles and it was a great joy to us all when we crossed a little river with an American sentry on the far side.
Most of us do not trust the Russians and certainly they have not reciprocated in any way to the enthusiastic welcome which we extended to them on their first arrival; there have been some cases of theft at gunpoint from Allied POW of watches and other valuables. Perhaps their unfriendliness is partly based on the Russian attitude to their people who are taken prisoner and looked upon as having committed a shameful act.
There were no road blocks on the American side and we speeded along a magnificent road to Halle, noticing all the way how much more cheerful the civilians looked than those in Russian territory. We arrived late at night in a big army camp and airfield and since then we have been waiting for the next stage by air but the weather is holding us up. Our quarters are good and the food, after POW diet, is splendid but, apart from a cinema, there is little to occupy us and time passes slowly - we are used to that by now and this time home really does seem to be close.

Wednesday, May 30 1945. The days seemed unending during our unexpectedly prolonged stay at Halle which we did not leave until May 25. Former POW poured in throughout the week and by Friday the numbers put a considerable strain on the catering facilities of the American 1st Army staff who had fought their way to Halle and were themselves expecting to return home in the near future. They did all they could to lighten our stay and our sincere thanks are due to them.
Suddenly about midday on May 25 a fleet of Dakotas (DC3 aircraft) flew into the airfield which was not very large and we were a little anxious as to whether enough planes had arrived to move all the 2500 ex-POW.
The aircraft were full of Russian workers from occupied Europe but very little time was taken to disembark them and to get us on board in batches of 25 to a plane. There was heavy cloud at about 3000 feet and we flew just below the cloud base which meant of course a rather bumpy ride and I regret to say that I was airsick for the first time on this journey home; but I was not alone and probably suppressed excitement was the cause.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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