captured.then a cup of water costs a wrist watch

Discussion in 'Veterans' Histories/Stories' started by mxp4506, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest hope am posting on the correct site.failed the last goes.
    at home in yorkshire fred walton knows he was one of the lucky ones to reach is age today .born 1916,
    fred was brought up in selby .with my grandfather thomas edward smith.and my grandmother elise smith.(walton)
    he joined the royal tank corps in 1937.reaching the rank of corporal.
    after participating in the dunkirk evacuation .his service in north africa included the siege of tobruk in 1941.
    he was taken prisoner in 1942.
    we was overrun because the germans had far superior fire-power and much better equipment.he unit lost all its tanks and had to withdraw to tobruk.the idea was to hold tobruk as a fortress as previously been done
    for nine months.
    unfortunately these things cannot be done with revolvers .which was all the armament we had left.
    the day of his capture fred remembers like this .at dawn on june 21st.came the order .every man for is self.later with a few others i was on the cliff top.
    when a large german tank appeared on one side and a armoured car on the other.both had large guns trained on we decided to wait for them to come to us.that gave us time to throw our revolvers and ammunition in the sea.and share a can of raw bacon. not very nice .but we were hungry.
    when the german got close .a head appeared out of the tank.and told us in fairly good english.for you the war tommy the war is over.the feeling when the guns were trained on us is not to be recommended.
    fred walton and the other prisoners were then marched seven miles to tobruk harbour.the first of many trials to come.
    we managed to beg a drink of water from a german officer.
    this was like nectar .because it was midsummers day.and it certainly was hot.
    at the harbour it was sheer bedlam with 30.000 prisoners all craving a drink.
    but the price of a cup of water .from the germans was a wrist watch or
    something of equal value.
    after the heat of the day.the night which followed was bitterly cold.
    we just collapsed on the sand .pulled our great overcoats round us and tried to sleep.
    thus ended my first day as a prisoner of war.
    more to follow.
  2. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred waton.follow on.

    though captured by german forces .the prisoners were in libya.which was under italian they were handed over to the italians.
    we were loaded into lorries .all standing.jammed in tightly.scarely able to breathe.a desert tribesman sat on the cab of each vehicle.with is rifle pointed
    at us .on desert roads there was constant fog of sand around us.the journey was lasted a few days .and i do not think we were given any-thing to eat or drink during the entire journey.
    every few hours the vehicles stopped and we were allowed to stretch our legs .and relieve ourselves.when it came to setting off again.if you were some distance away.the guard would fire is rifle close to you to make you hurry.
    eventually the journey ended in tripoli at a camp the prisoners came to know as the HELL HOLE .there they were crammed into buildings resembling aircraft
    hangers.the appalling conditions which awaited them was soon apparent.
    the toilets had been used and neglected by previous prisoners .to enter one removed boots and socks .rolled up trousers .and paddled though.thank goddness this problem was overcome by the italians providing rods .bleach.
    e.t.c and a party of our own men who worked like make the toilets useable.
    to this day day when ever i smell bleach that blasted place comes into my mind.
    end of part two.
  3. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Great posts Mike. Thanks for posting them, and keep them coming.
  4. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton .part three.

    hello.thanks for your comments kyt. means a lot comming from you.seems i doing some-thing right.reading these again .makes me think what .the prisoners went though.and survived. alas some did not.
    here is part three.
    the camp cookhouse was run by a group of prisoners who had been there some time.they looked after themselves and we had what was left.
    why we never rioted .will never know.probably because those running the cookhouse were in the good books of the italian commander.
    am sure would of set his troops on us if we had caused any trouble.
    the daily ration was a small bread small ladle of rice in salt water.and one cup of ersatz coffee made from ground acorns.
    about twice during the months we were there .we had a sort of stew.
    bits of meat .bones .and rice.
    we had about 20 water taps for thousands to wash in.
    these were turned off after a few hours .and not turned on again till next morning.
    in the hangers prisoners slept on the contrete floor.
    each morning after rising we were not allowed back into the hangers until late in the day.
    we spent the time listening to lectures-by anyone who could talk on any subject.
    some lectures were quite enlighting.
    on a few occassions we had a issue of ten cigarettes.
    very dry and full of weevil holes.
    we had to tear a piece of paper from our pay books and wrap it around our cigarette to try and get a few puffs.
    all for now.
    part four later.
  5. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part four

    still snowing .will put next piece on.
    a friend of mine and myself tried stripping bark from trees in the camp.
    this we shredded and wrapped in any paper we could was very vile.
    trying to smoke it.and you could only stand two or three puffs.
    lights were obtained by using magnifying glasses .nobody had matches or lighters.
    after many months.the el alamein started .and we were ordered to start digging gun emplacements outside the camp.
    this was ignored so we had all rations stopped. but things must have been getting close because we were all quickly loaded onto wagons and taken to tripoli docks.
    then hundreds of prisoners were loaded onto a ship bound for italy.
    we were put in a hold and battered down ,
    with one of the crew i exchanged my great overcoat for bread.cigaettes.
    and a thin italian coat.
    it was fiercely hot in that ships hold,some prisoners passed out because of
    the heat and starvation.
    they were taken out on deck to recover .
    i do not know what ever happened to them .
    how we got from tripoli across the mediterranean .i will never know.
    god must have been with us.
    however we disembarked in naples.
    we must have looked pretty grim .because a group of elderly italians ladies
    who saw us immediately dropped on their knees and began praying for us.
    in fred waltons war next.
    hopes of freedom dashed.then grim ordeals on the way to germany.
  6. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton.error.

    hi just to say ,should read part four.put five by mistake,mike

    Have changed it now, Mike - Kyt
  7. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    A great read, thanks mate. Very sobering.
  8. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton .part five

    thanks for that sure fred wil be pleased some-one out there is reading his his own words.
    six days locked on a prision train.then work brings chance of a discarded.
    cigarette end.
    so bedraggled when they reached italy that woman onlookers prayed for them
    fred walton and his prisoner colleagues initially found themselves in a better accommodation than that left behind in fred recalled at his home in hook ,there was a banother boost to spirits too.
    not much food was forthcomming .but we had our first red cross parcel
    (god bless them)one parcel between two prisoners .and i shared mine with a man from my own unit.
    first we had a cup of english tea.with sugar and condensed milk.and pudding.
    spotted dick.
    i would not attempt to put into words our feelings aftrerwards.i lay down that night. and had difficulty sleeping .because my whole body was tingling so
    much.probably due to the sweetness after so long without.
    soon however we were moved again.a long road journey took them to a camp near porto st george.on the adriatic coast.we would remain there for some time.
    barbed wire surrounded a large hanger .it was very dark inside .two small light did nothing to penetrate the gloom.beds were three-tier bunks.
    jammed nose to the hanger could accommodate all of us.
    again there was no work.time dragged relieve boredom it was decided to put on a show of sorts.
    there was no shortage of volunteers because the reward for those selected
    was a meal bone from the cookhouse . if you were fortunate it might have a bit of meat clinging to it..
    stage shows and football matches became regular events .
    then the prisoners learned of italys withdrawal from the war and the allies
    subsequent advance.
    part six to follow .
  9. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part six

    the italian guards changed their black fascist shirts to royalist blue.then all the sentries were taken away.fromthe barb wire and the gates were left open.we asked ourselves what shall we do now.some immediately left.
    my friends and i.wandered outside.had some grapes and waited.
    as we thought for the allied troops.we had been free inside the camp for possibly three days when we noticed the italians changing back into black the sentry boxes well-armed germans appeared.they immediately closed and locked all gates.our days of freedom were over.
    it was probably next day when a train of cattle trucks came down the line into camp.immediately we had to grab our belongings .we were allocated to the trucks about 25 at a time.we were issued one red cross parcel between two prisoners.and a loaf of german bread which had the date on of baking on it.this was 1943.the date of the loaf was 1937.
    the truck doors were closed and locked and the train pulled away.
    life inside our truck was very had one small barred window.
    we had to reserve one corner of the truck for performing our bodily functions.
    disgusting .i know .but what could be done when the doors were locked.
    we must have been in the truck six days .some-where ,half-way through
    our journey the doors were unlocked and we found ourselves in a fairly large
    station.we were then ordered to get off the trucks to relieve ourselves
    in full view of people on both sides of the station.i think this was a propaganda move to show german civilians how low we british had sunk.
    part seven later on .
  10. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part seven

    when their rail journey ended the prisoners transferred to lorries and moved again.somewhere along the road we halted at a small camp .we were prdered from the vehicles and in the middle of a field .we were told to strip off all clothes .the clothes were then put into a steam cleaner to kill the body lice .which had pestered us most of the time we were prisoners of the italians .we then had to line up for a haircut .this was done by an ancient
    sheep-shearing machine operated by two russian prisoners .the cutting was rough and painful but very effective .four times over the head and the result.
    bald as a billiard we had to go into a sort of hot shower .still in middle of the field.emerging wet .with no towels .we had to collect our gear.
    from the steam cleaner and put it on .-hot and wet .rough methods.
    but it go rid of them lice.
    ater arriving at stalag IVB.fred and his pals were moved to lezip.they were among 30 prisoners based in a small room within a factory.
    each man had a single bed and a small wooden box for his belongings.
    the room had a stove with a hot water cylinder close by.
    at one end a partitioned section accommodated german guards.
    this ends part seven .
    more to follow . mike
  11. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part eight

    during that first day each of us had red triangles painted on our battleddress.
    on the knees at the front and in the middle of the back.
    these would serve as targets for the guards if we tried to escape .
    that night the prisoners were locked they would be every night.
    their only toilet a bucket of one end of the room.
    next morning fred was among 15 prisoners who set of at 7am to march under armed guard to another factory were they were to would become
    a daily routine.
    we marched in threes on the right -hand side of the road.we had to take turns to be the right-hand man in the front rank.
    that was were you could pick up dog ends thrown away by the germans.
    fred was put to work carrying sides of beef from a truck to a container.
    sharing the task with a german called max .
    neither could speak each others lauguage.of every six sides of beef.max moved five .but he did not seem to care,
    towards the end of the day he cut a fillet steak from one side of beef and gave it to me.he then showed me how to wrap it around my body so it would not fall.when we marched back to our billet. i was shaking with fright all the way back in case it fell out .but we arrive back without mishap.
    that night we managed to cook the fillet .
    there was enough for thirty men and the german sentry.
    givening food to the sentry had to be done because we could not hide the smell of cooking .it was a dangerous game for both ourselves and the sentry
    but hunger will conquer all fear.
    freds days with the man who gave him the steak .however were soon cut short .a few days later i was transferred to work with another german ,
    i never saw what became of max again .
    more to follow.
  12. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Thanks for continuing to post the story, Mike.
  13. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part nine

    first thank you for your comments. it is always nice to hear.sorry it a long story .but am telling it in freds own words. as he wanted me to.
    trading meat for eggs hidden in womens underwear.
    prisoners risk all.
    fighting hunger was a constant priority.wherever and whenever they could and despite the close supervision of armed guards.fred walton and is prisoners
    colleagues pilfered and plundered food to augment inadequate rations.
    even during air raids on leizig .fred recalls food remained the prisoners .
    priority.we sheltered in cellars where butter was stored behind a lattice -work gate .at first it seemed inpossible to get at,but with a long piece of wood with a nail protruding .the butter was dragged to the gate and thus disappeared.
    when the prisoners were ordered to unload barrels of butter stock from the railway trucks .again there was a chance to boost illicit food stocks.
    two of us were working in one truck watched by a german who had a swastika on his arm,with this nazi inattendance it seemed we were not going to be able to get the butter for ourselves.
    we kept saying .i wish he would clear off.
    then suddenly he said in perfect english .i know what you are saying ,you know.needless to say we got nothing that day.
    but it was different later when one of the barrels was accidently dropped .
    while hunger forced the prisoners to take all manner of risks ,
    they also had to counter boredom .
    in their factory billet they staged enterainment shows,
    more to follow .
  14. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part ten

    though he had no previous experience .(and done nothing like it since.)
    fred made his contribution.known thoughout his military service as joe.
    he produced the the factory where he worked by day .he persuaded
    fraulein mopser a german clerk to type a programme for a show staged on oct 1st 1944.
    lager 103 presents variety on.sunday doors open 6.15 p.m.?
    1. the last roundup.2. parson harry .the prisoners friend.3.the operating theatre.4.our bill.5.the soandal brothers.6.two cooks from in presents.
    9.chapel in the moonlight.10.mellow mouthorgan melodies .11.burglars night burlington blondie.13, the registry office .14. facts of life.
    15. memories.
    produced by joe walton.
    cannot read the next too blurred. it was by - - - - wally
    lighting effects alex mac
    stage manager jonny .mac. curly.
    costumes steve. blondie.
    we put on three shows in a large room .fred remembers .for some reason it had a piano .and we were allowed to use it.
    nearly all the germans we worked with attended the shows.
    though the prisoners had a good relationship with most of the sentries guarding them .and germans they worked with .
    fred recalls they were lucky to survive an incident involving the dreaded nazi secret police. a gestapo party arrived to search where we were billeted
    we had been forwarned .so there was nothing in our wooden boxes .
    but there was a complete half-pig in the flases roof. we did not have time to remove it.and there was no other place to hide it.
    the gestapo searched the preemises but found nothing and were leaving when one of them spotted the trap-door in the flase roof.he stood on te bed and looked in the roof .but only looked in three directions .he did not look where the pig was hidden .if he had .i might not be here now.
    more to follow
  15. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part eleven

    another example of the constant quest for food.fred remembers like this.
    eggs reached the factory in crates .these were handled by female russian
    prisoners .we would meet them later in the cellars and exchange meat for eggs.which they had hidden in their underwear.they showed no embarrassment when almost stripping to retrieve the eggs for us.
    though heavey raids on leipez indicated that the allies were taking the air war deep into germany .for prisoners held in the city some raids merely increased hardship. one raid badly damaged the factory where we worked .
    afterwards we had to carry salvaged material to part o the factory which was mostly consisted of 1 cwt barrels of butter and large sides of beef an pork.all very heavy when carried up and down flights of stairs.
    to make matters worse a member of the hitler youth movement stood on every step with a stick.
    i will not dwell on what happened .it is not a nice memory.
    freds 18 months as a prisoner of leipzig left other unpleasent memories too.
    at mealtimes where we worked .we were allowed to eat our food indoors .
    russian prisoners were compelled to eat in the dust and dirt sitting on the road outside. one day a russian got up and started walking about looking for dog ends .the sentry called a few times for the russian to sit down .when he would not comply.the sentry shot and killed him.
    part twelve to follow.
  16. John

    John Active Member

    Hi Mike
    Thanks for your work in allowing us to share in his memories. Cannot wait for part 12

  17. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton part twelve

    hi john .thanks for the thumb up.seems strange writing from freds memory.
    i can follow is trail as i recount the story.
    here is the next part.
    another incident happened somewhere in germany.there were two large areas
    surrounded by barb wire.russian prisoners were in one. british in the other.
    armed guards in between.inthe russian compound was a large pit.
    there must have been thousands of russians in this place .and all day long we
    could see them taking the bodies of dead russian prisoners and tipping them into the pit.
    on another day in leipez 15 of us were having our midday break .when the gestapo came. they took about seven of our men and marched them away.
    two hours later the men returned looking very sick. they had been taken to a chapel and ordered to try and reassemble the body parts of air raid victims laid out on the floor.
    during one heavy raid the factory where we were billeted received direct hits.
    sheltering in the cellars .we could hear the bombs falling.suddenly there wea a large explosion right where we were . the blast was tremendous.
    my ears felt as though they would burst.
    when we were able to see though the rubble and dust. we found our exit blocked. after the raid some germans cleared away the we was able to get out.after the air raid .we had to clear the rubble .later our days were spent chipping old cement off undamaged bricks.
    we were doing this when we got news of D-DAY. not bad as prisoners in eastern germany to get the news just after noon on the day it happened.
    we heard it from a german the months that followed the prisoners
    worked as directed by their captors.hoping the allied advance would
    eventually lead to their freedom.
    one day when we returned from work .we were told to pack whatever bits
    we had and be ready to move out. early next morning we were taken to
    another part of leipez .where we joined other prisoners .most were russian .
    some british and some american.
    most of the british wore their khaki by then very theadbare. most of us had clogs .some still had army footwear.but not in good condition.
    the clothing of the russians was indescribable.
    fred walton and his fellow prisoners learned then that advancing american forces were drawing the germans intended to march their prisoners
    east towards the russian front .
    they would cover twenty miles a day.
    more to follow later.
  18. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton follow on.

    long march on the road to freedom then.
    it was 1945 and american forces were appoaching leipzig.nearly three years
    after his capture .fred walton was among british .american and russian .
    prisoners who were marched eastwards by their german captors.
    the russian front was quiet at that time.we marched in a long column .
    covering 20 miles a day.fortunately the weather was good and the pace fairly
    slow.our biggest danger was american fighter aircraft.they were often overhead buzzing us. but none of them attacked. perhaps they could tell we were prisoners of war.whenever we halted .we put out anything we could on the ground to spell p.o.w. so it could be seen from the air. we had been
    marching a few days when we heard heavy gunfire ahead. the russian front had opened up the german officer in charge ordered the guards to
    turn us round .so we started back again.two days later we were on a long straight road leading to a village .when we were a quarter of a mile away.
    american troops emerged from the village. they spead out with wicked -looking fire arms trained on us.the german officer shouted that he had prisoners of war. the americans then disarmed the gemans.throwing the rifles to the prisoners.they told us to shout the germans if we wished.
    the sentries had done us no harm so none of us took advantage of the offer.
    so for fre walton and his colleagues.the struggle for survival as prisoners of
    the nazis was finally that moment their emotions were a mixture of
    elation.relief and bewilderment.they were free but what would happen next?
    the american troops had no transport for the men.they had freed. as they were going forward to meet advancing russian the newly-released
    prisoners were advised to contine their march to leipzig.americans had occupied the city and they would be cared their.
    within ten minutes all russian prisoners had vanished.fred recalls. am not sure where they went. over two days the rest of us marched 40 miles back to leizig.when we got there we learned the war with germany was over.
    that it was V.E.DAY.and bonfires were burning all over britain.some-one
    suggested we should have our own we gathered all the were we had selpt at the factory and set fire to them.
    what a blaze .
    we were singing .with arms round each other.with food and cigarettes .the americans looked after us very well indeed.
    but the question was .how was we to get home.
  19. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton.follow on.

    eventually fred and his colleagues were taken to a nearby airfied and flown to rheims in france. soon afterwards we were put on a lancaster bombers.
    as a corporal. i had to record the names and address of of all passengers.and call their names to board.each one was given a life jacket.their was one short . so i did not get a recompense the canadian crew allowed me to sit in the nose of the plane near the pilot.during the flight the pilot asked me how long had i been abroad. i told him five years.he said.if you look though those clouds you will see what you have been waiting to see all these
    their was tears was very emotional.
    when we landed in buckinghamshire and stepped of the plane. at last we relised we were free and home.fred walton was among thousands of men returning from prison camps.of germany. some had reached home earlier after managing to escape. thoughts of escape luurked within most men thoughout their fred recalls. the question of escape was always in our minds .at times it would have been easy to walk away.
    against that at night we were under lock and key in the same building as the sentries. plus we had clogs on our feet .not the best thing to escape in .plus we had red triangles on our 1945 however all thoughts of escape belonged to the past as fred plane landed. like others he was issued with a telegram. arrived england,see you soon.and was allowed to add signature and a address. then on a train to head to selby .yorkshire.
    the train did not stop in got off in doncaster.and caught the bus.
    in selby with legs like jelly .i walked home towards abbots road. wondering what i would find.the house was all decorated .their was a notice saying
    i stood outside for a long time full of emotion.eventually went in .their was only person inside .five years away i did not recognise him.and asked who he was . he said . i am your brother george.he said the family were waiting at selby station.shortly afterwards my mother and all the family arrived .
    hugs and kisses all round .annd tears. mother very worried .as i was all
    gaunt and thin.
    born in rotherham august 1st 1916.two years before his father was killed in world war one.
    this brings freds story to a close. i do hope i have managed to bring a glimpse of what thousands of men and women went though in these
    dark days.
    thank you for putting up with me.
  20. mxp4506

    mxp4506 Guest

    fred walton. update.

    hi just a quick note.rang fred tonight. he well as can be for nearing 92 years .
    old.tells me a gentleman from the war museum .name toby brooks. afraid i do not know him. his comming to see him . in goole.yorkshire. will be intrested to see how he gets on. will have to wait till next tuesday to find out.

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