The Prisoner of War June 1945

MCurnockRM1815605-171114-020.pdf

Title

The Prisoner of War June 1945

Description

The official journal of the Prisoners of War Department of the Red Cross and St John War Organisation. This edition covers the editor's comments, How the Convoys got through, photographs of ex-POWs titled 'Victory Smiles', Finding his Feet - nutritional advice, Seven Other tips for returning ex-POWs, photographs of ex-POWs regaining their weight, the March is Over about the Long March, Bridging the Gap about Civil Resettlement Units, Released Doctor's tributes, an exhibition titled 'Out from the Battle', a film made about POW experiences and Exam results from POW camps.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1945-06

Contributor

Anne-Marie Watson

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

Eight printed sheets

Language

Type

Identifier

MCurnockRM1815605-171114-020

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

THE

Prisoner of War

[Symbol] THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR DEPARTMENT OF THE RED CROSS AND ST. JOHN WAR ORGANISATION, ST. JAMES’S PALACE, LONDON, S.W.1 [Symbol]

VOL. 4 No. 38. Free to Next of Kin JUNE, 1945

The Editor Writes –

OFLAGS and Stalags, Milag and Marlag and Ilags are no more. With the unconditional surrender of Germany those prison camps which had not already been overrun by our Armies advancing from the west and the east were liberated by the victorious Allies. At the moment of writing some 137,000 ex-prisoners have reached this country, a certain number are still in transit, somewhere in Germany or Belgium, and according to the latest figures, another 30,000 who were released by our Russian Allies are awaiting transport to our lines.

Free at Last

Many of these will have got through before this issue of the journal has been printed, but obviously the task of transporting thousands of men from the interior of Germany through the dispersal camps to this country is a slow process. But the outstanding fact is that the long days of captivity are ended and that the great moment of release for which we have all waited for so long has come at last. To the men who have come back and to those who will be returning in the near future I would like to offer a hearty welcome and cordial congratulations.

Flown Home

The majority of our prisoners were home within a week of VE-day. Most of them were brought to this country by air, and it is clear that there has been the absolute minimum of delay. The American Forces have earned our grateful thanks for all they have done, and we would wish to be associated with the message sent by Sir James Grigg to General Eisenhower which is printed on page 2. Many prisoners have been brought back in Flying Fortresses, but the R.A.F. has been far from idle. Up to May 15th, 28,961 men had been flown to England by No. 46 Group of R.A.F. Transport Command, while an additional 20,761 were moved from forward airfields in Germany to rear bases for transference to England.

Red Cross in Forward Areas

Ex-prisoners of war have been delighted and amazed to find Red Cross and St. John representatives waiting to welcome them in army reception and transit camps right in the forward areas. Twenty men and women drawn from the Red Cross organisations of Great Britain, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and South Africa were sent out to Germany to be attached to these camps. Various teams have been made up, and one of the most forward units is living under canvas. Major Lee-Warner, their leader, says that one of the great joys of the returning prisoners is to meet and talk with someone, especially a woman, from their own country.

City of Waking Dreamers

What will it feel like to be free again? That question must have been asked thousands of times in the camps during the last five years. Now they know the answer. To most it was like waking up – gradually – from a bad dream. There were a few days around about VE-Day when Brussels became a city of waking dreamers. They streamed in by the thousand in lorries and trains and planes, and were directed to the Army registration offices where they gave their names and other particulars.

Formalities over, they filed past the Red Cross counter where treasure bags were distributed and various useful articles – pyjamas, towels, rope-soled slippers, dentifrice, and so forth – were displayed for those who needed them. The jewels in Ali Baba’s cave were not more precious. It all seemed unbelievable to the bewildered men.

[Photograph of a large group of men celebrating in front of a Lancaster aircraft] Repatriated cheering as they leave the Lancaster that brought them home to a British airfield.

[Page break]

2 The Prisoner of War JUNE, 1945

His Blessing

One man was found sitting on the kerb with his head in his hands. Someone asked him what he was doing. “Waiting to wake up,” was the answer. Another man came up to a Red Cross welfare girl and asked her for pencil and paper, which she gave him. He came to attention and saluted. “May all your children be ex-prisoners of war!” he said solemnly. “Well, that’s a nice sort of blessing!” exclaimed the girl. But she knew what he meant – he could think of no more blissful state than freedom regained.

Double Rations

Returned prisoners of war are able to buy twice the ordinary quantities of nationally rationed food during the period of their 42 days’ repatriation leave. Double rations are also provided at reception camps, and in one week in England a R.A.A.F. repatriate increased his weight by nearly two stone. The Australian, a warrant officer from New South Wales, said that no one could praise too highly the Services Authorities and the Australian and British Red Cross for what they were doing for prisoners. On his arrival, he said, he made a mistake by saying “pass the margarine.” He was soon corrected and told that only butter was served to returning prisoners.

Packing Centres Closing

The packing of food parcels for prisoners of war in Europe has now ceased, and the Packing Centres are being closed. Some 8 1/2 million parcels were available on VE day. The surplus parcels are not being wasted, as some 5 1/2 million have been put at the disposal of the authorities for distribution to ex-prisoners of war and civilians of the Allied nations who have been rescued from the Germans by the Allied Armies. The contents of parcels opened after two years’ wandering have been found to be still good.

Help for C.I.

Mr. Morrison, the Home Secretary, reporting to the House of Commons on May 17th on his visit to the Channel Islands, stated that the health and physique of the population was on the whole better than he had dared to hope. This, he said, was in large measure due to the supplies which had been received from the British Red Cross and St. John. He believed that although the Germans took a considerable share of local produce, they did not attempt to divert the Red Cross supplies to their own use. The whole of the supplies

[Photograph of a group of people on a street, waving flags] The whole village turned out to greet this sergeant when he returned to his home in Oreston, South Devon.

carried on the Vega were supplied by the Red Cross and St. John War Organisation and that the ship was chartered and paid for by Red Cross and St. John.

Invalid Diets

Readers will be glad to know that special care has been given to all our prisoners whose health has been greatly impaired by long privations in German camps. Fifty cases of Red Cross “comforts” and “invalid diet” parcels containing specially prepared food was flown out for them in four Dakota aircraft to Red Cross depots at reception bases beyond Hanover.

Home for the Homeless

Prisoners of war who have returned to this country to find that their homes had been destroyed by bombs, or who have neither families of their own or friends in this country with whom they can stay, are being looked after by a specially formed section of the Red Cross and St. John. They are able, if they desire, to stay for all or part of their 42 days’ leave at a large country house in one of the loveliest spots in the Home Counties. Living in friendly and restful surroundings, they do just as they please, and no effort is spared by the Red Cross staff to give them a thoroughly enjoyable holiday.

Oflag Literary Talent

Capt. Peter Baker has just returned to London from Oflag 79. “There was a lot of literary talent in our camp,” he said. “In fact, I have brought back an anthology of the work of my fellow-prisoners.” Contributors include Viscount Cranley, John Grime of the Daily Express, John Talbot and Jack Smyth of Reuters, and Bill Bowes the Yorkshire and England cricketer. All royalties on the book which is to be published next winter will go to the Boys’ Club founded by members of Oflag 79. Bill Bowes will probably be the club’s first warden.

University of London

Repatriates who have arranged to take external examinations of the University of London while prisoners of war and still wish to take them in England should communicate immediately with the External Registrar at The College, Richmond, Surrey, stating exactly for what examinations, with subjects and options, they wish to be considered as candidates. Those who during captivity took only a part of their examinations, and those who have not heard results of examinations already taken, should similarly communicate immediately with the External Registrar.

Model of Stalag IXC

A scale model 4ft. x 4ft. of Stalag IXC was on display in the London Museum during preparations for Red Cross Flag Day, was shown to the Queen when she visited the museum during the day. The model was designed by a repatriated P.o.W., Mr. W. Prentice, and constructed by Mr. H.E. Kingsman. It was given to Red Cross and St. John by the Union of Post Office Workers (South-Eastern office), of which both men are members.

American Kindness

Sir James Grigg, Secretary of State for War, has sent the following letter of appreciation to General Eisenhower:

“I want to express to you my deep gratitude for the way in which United States Forces have treated our prisoners of war. The advance of the allied armies, under your inspiring leadership, has brought freedom to thousands of these unfortunate prisoners in German hands. Soon, we may hope all of them will be free.

The swift return of these ex-prisoners to this country is, I know, a task calling for the highest degree of organisation and enthusiasm. Had it not been for the initiative and sympathy displayed by the United States Staff, Air Forces, and all concerned, the repatriation of our men would have been seriously hampered. As it is, their homecoming has been effected with the utmost rapidity, and they are loud in their praise and gratitude for the many kindnesses showered upon them by all ranks of the United Stated Forces at the time of their liberation and during their homeward journey.

May I ask you to accept my sincere thanks and to convey an expression of our very warm appreciation to all concerned.

[Page break]

JUNE, 1945 The Prisoner of War 3

How the Convoys Got Through

[Photograph of Red Cross trucks in a ship’s hold] The trucks are loaded with their precious cargoes.

EARLY in March a delegate of the International Red Cross visited a Canadian prisoner of war camp at Moosburg, and asked for twelve volunteers to drive trucks taking Red Cross supplies to prisoners on the move and in marooned stalags. There was an immediate response to the request, and on March 8th the volunteers were taken to Lubeck where they met M. Paul de Blonay, a Swiss I.R.C. delegate.

The little party of twelve, which was in charge of Sgt. Maj. Moss, learnt that 50 loaded trucks were awaiting drivers at Constance, on the Swiss border. Then a further thirty Canadians and twenty-two Americans were recruited from camps at Lubeck, and eight Men of Confidence who had come to draw rations for camps since liberated, made up the total required.

One Step from Freedom

When the men had given their word of honour that they would make no attempt to escape, the Germans allowed them to proceed by passenger train to Constance. There they found themselves in the German-held part of the town, with only a barrier separating them from Switzerland and freedom.

Sgt. Maj. Moss told a representative of THE PRISONER OF WAR that the drivers had plenty of opportunities to escape into Switzerland, but not one had succumbed to the temptation. Had any done so, the Germans would have carried out their threat and taken every supply truck off the road.

The fifty trucks consisted of G.M.C.s carrying 1,000 parcels each, and Chevrolets carrying 800 each. They were divided into three separate convoys.

Once convoy moving from Constance to Moosburg, via Gefrees and Carlsbad, found a hospital in Gefrees containing forty British P.o.W.s all too ill to be moved. There were no nurses, but one German doctor without medical equipment had remained in charge.

The convoy supplied Red Cross medical parcels and food.

“Those parcels undoubtedly saved the men’s lives,” said Sgt. Maj. Moss. “They were so excited when they saw what we were bringing them, and cheered and shouted so much, that it was quite a job to get them fed.”

This convoy reloaded at Moosburg from a Red Cross dump, and returned with further stocks to Gefrees.

When the original supplies from Constance were exhausted the trucks ran shuttle services from the dumps at Moosburg and Lubeck. Two trucks left Lubeck on April 8th to deliver French parcels from Behrensdorf to French P.o.W.s south-east of Berlin. The drivers reported tremendous congestion on the roads mostly caused by German civilians fleeing from the Russian front towards the American lines. At one point Pte. Charlie Smith, of Manitoba, found himself in a very hot spot, and then discovered he was two miles to the rear of the advancing Russians.

The trekking convoys moved by day and night. During one period of eight days the drivers averaged only three hours sleep per night. South of Wisman a convoy of twelve trucks returning empty for more supplies gave a lift to several hundred Allied women stranded on the road. Many of the women were so weak they had to be lifted into the vehicles. This convoy was involved in an Allied raid, and one American driver was killed and two Canadians were wounded. Four trucks were destroyed and two badly damaged.

Each convoy was accompanied by a German guard, but on a number of occasions S.S. tried to commandeer food parcels, petrol, etc. South of Berlin in an armed hold-up the S.S. stole one loaded truck; and near San Bostal they seized 160 parcels and a supply of petrol.

Thefts might have reached a serious level had not each driver been issued with a certificate by high-ranking officials of the Waffen S.S. There were few occasions when these certificates failed to protect the Red Cross supplies.

Altogether 14,000 marching prisoners were contacted by this party of drivers. Each received one parcel to last for five days. At the end of this time a convoy would overtake the column again and make a fresh issue. It proved impossible to allot more than one parcel per man because the marchers had no transport to carry extra supplies.

The volunteer drivers received their freedom at Lubeck, on May 2nd at 3.25 p.m. when the first British tank came rolling in. It was a great moment, but the work itself did not finish until May 8th. The convoy men remained inn Germany for another six days to feed P.o.W.s and evacuees awaiting transport to the United Kingdom. When at last their own turn came to leave, they handed over their trucks to Swiss Red Cross drivers.

[Boxed] AUTHORITY FROM THE S.S.

Lubeck.

19th April, 1945

[Underlined] CERTIFICATE [/underlined]

Lorry No. GE 55 YY of the International Red Cross, its entire load and its petrol and oil are the property of the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva. Requisition thereof would therefore be a breach of international law, and a general warning is hereby issued against such requisition. Any person disregarding this warning offends not only against international law but also against Military law and will be tried by a German military court.

SCHROEDER

S.S. Brigadier and Major-General of Police

For

BERGER

C.in C. Home Forces

Chief of Prisoners of War Administration

Senior Group Leader and General in the Armed S.S.

For International Red Cross Committee

P. DE BLONAY

Delegate. [/boxed]

[Page break]

4 The Prisoner of War JUNE, 1945

Victory Smiles

Released in time for VE-Day celebrations, these British troops from a prisoner of war camp in Saxony awaited repatriation at an emergency transit camp in Naumberg, Germany, when these pictures were taken. They come from many parts of the British Isles and Dominion.

[Photographs of groups of smiling men] NORTH OF ENGLAND, LONDON & WALES, YORKSHIRE, GLASGOW, SOUTH AFRICA, LONDON

[Page break]

JUNE, 1945 The Prisoner of War 5

FINDING HIS FEET

Red Cross and St. John has sent every next of kin advice about food for ex-prisoners of war. Here are a chat and some hints on the subject by RADIO DOCTOR

IT would be natural to welcome the boys home with a terrific bust-up – to try to make up to them something of what they have lost – to shower them with hospitality to show our gratitude, our delight at seeing them in their own armchair again. But let us go into this a bit more deeply.

When people are badly under-nourished through too little food it isn’t only the face and the arms and the waistline; it isn’t only the parts you can see which are thinner, but some of the parts you can’t see. One of them is the tummy itself, or the stomach and the intestines to be more exact. The internal workings may have suffered, and particularly the arrangements for digesting food and for absorbing food.

“The Body Lives on Itself”

This is what happens in starvation or partial starvation. First the reserves are used up, the sugar in the muscles, the fat under the skin, and so on. Then, when things have got really bad and there are no more reserves, the body lives on itself. It gets its energy from its own tissues, and uses them up in doing so. And among the tissues it uses up are the tissues of the alimentary tract. This means that the digestion apparatus may be under par.

So though the undernourished need a lot, they can’t take a lot – at least, at first. That is Rule No. 1 – go steady at first. Get acclimatised. Small meals and plenty of them rather than large meals and blow-outs!

The second point is, the boys will naturally be excited at the prospect of foods they haven’t seen for years – unaccustomed foods, at least to them, like roast beef and Yorkshire, steak and kidney pudding, roast pork complete with a lively piece of crackling. On these, too, they must go steady. For their tummies have forgotten them. Give them the shock of having to tackle something they haven’t had inside them for years and they may revolt. They will have to learn once more to tackle them.

“No Fatty Foods at First”

The third point is that it is the fatty foods which will disturb them most at first. It is a general rule that fatty foods cause more upset than others, and this is particularly true of the recovering tummy. No fried, fatty or seasoned foods for the first few weeks.

Let me suggest some meals. First breakfast: bacon, yes. The fat of bacon is very digestible if there isn’t too much of it. Let the bacon be crisp. Egg, yes. But let it be boiled, or poached, or scrambled. No fried eggs just yet. Toast and marmalade, yes. But when you are putting the butter or the margarine on the toast, let the toast be cold. Porridge and milk, yes. For “elevenses” – and there should be “elevenses" – cocoa, milky coffee or milk, sandwiches, scones, biscuits, plain cake. Dinner: meat, of course, but not too much fat. And pork is barred for a bit (I hope it isn’t pork week in your district!). Fish, by all means, but not fried.

Getting Into Training

Puddings, go in for the lighter sort – milk puddings, puddings of the junkety, custardy sort. At tea-time, a milky tea, with jam sandwiches, or raisin sandwiches, and plain cake or biscuits. At bedtime, something milky, and with a biscuit or two; salad vegetables, yes. Sweets and chocolate, yes. In short, a simple building-up diet, with nothing fatty, nothing fancy in the first few weeks.

It is like getting into training for a race. Start gently, and build up as you go along. It will take time to become adjusted to the new life.

[Photograph of a group of four men around a cooking fire outdoors] These Americans liberated by the British eat their first freedom meal with gusto.

- And Seven Other Tips

FROM Stalag to the family fireside. From bleak isolation of the German prison camp – redeemed only by the comradeship of fellow-prisoners and the letters and parcels from home – to the warm comfort of family and friends.

What can you do to help your repatriated prisoner of war to find his feet. Here are some tips:-

(1) Before you meet your man think for a moment of what home-coming means to him. He has been leading a hard and unnatural life, maybe for years. He is returning to a life which has changed since he left it. It will take him time to get back into his old ways.

(2) Let his first glimpse of you be at home. In his mind’s eye he has carried round his prison camp a picture of you in your home, in his home. He pictures you as he left you at home.

(3) At first he wants only his own family (sometimes not every member of that). Don’t let all his relatives and friends crowd round him. Ration the visitors for the first day or two at least.

(4) Remember that he is anxious above all to be “like everyone else.” He may hide his difficulties or pretend he has none. Let him. Take no notice. Wait for him to talk. Don’t worry him with your questions.

(5) He may be moody, even irritable. He may want to be alone and, unlike the film star, really mean it. In this way he is slipping into things at his own pace. He doesn’t want sympathy or pity. Be patient and don’t fuss over him.

(6) Naturally, he will want to know about the changes which have taken place since he went away. Fill in the gaps in his knowledge easily and naturally, in course of ordinary conversation. Don’t talk at him. It is no good pretending that nothing has changed – that will make him suspicious. Don’t pretend that he has changed and you haven’t. You’re different too. Don’t tell him of your war hardships or remind him of his. He has had enough.

(7) He may be full of grouses. If he is, just listen. Don’t join in his grouses, but don’t contradict him.

Let me sum it all up in five simple words: “Help him – don’t hurry him.” And soon in both mind and body he will cover the distance between prison camp and home. He will take root once more, in the soil of home.

Reprinted by courtesy of the DAILY MAIL.

[Page break]

6 The Prisoner of War JUNE, 1945

WINNING BACK THEIR WEIGHT!

[Photograph of a man standing on scales being measured by a nurse] Above A corporal has his weight tested on the ward, so that nurse may report his progress to the doctor.

Below The magic mixture which helps to bring back the weight. Cook and her voluntary assistant at Little Missenden. [Photograph of two ladies preparing baking materials]

[Photograph of a group of men around a table, smiling] Above The first meal downstairs at Seer Green is a treat and (left) a group of repatriates sunning themselves.

[Photograph of a group of people sitting on a lawn and on deckchairs]

[Photograph of a hospital ward] Below A parachute regiment padre meets an old friend in a corner of one of the wards at Little Missenden.

A NUMBER of the prisoners of war who had done the 400 miles forced march from Poland into Germany were sent to two Red Cross and St. John Convalescent Homes at Seer Green and Little Missenden converted into Camp Reception Stations for rehabilitation and rest.

When first seen the men presented an alarming appearance, looking critically ill, but these seemingly severe cases improved rapidly.

All suffered in varying degrees from emaciation, loss of weight of between one and three stone and exhaustion, and 10% of the more severe cases have shown swelling of the feet and ankles.

The routine was complete rest in bed, warmth, two hot water bottles and light diet. Fats, in the form of butter, were tolerated better tan was expected. Slight difficulty was experienced at the outset due to the desire of patients to eat large quantities of white bread and butter. Consequently abdominal pains. All patients when first admitted showed a dazed cheerfulness and were very glad to speak of their many experiences.

The weak appearance of so many of these men appears to have been due to the long forced march on starvation diet, as the majority of the men said they were fairly fit prior to the march. All prisoners were loud in their praise of Red Cross parcels and said that those kept them alive. The average gain in weight has been in the neighbourhood of 8 lbs. over a ten-day stay.

[Page break]

JUNE, 1945 The Prisoner of War 7

THE MARCH IS OVER

A Lance Corporal wrote home from a camp near Hanover where he was awaiting repatriation, describing his long trek across Germany from Stalag XXA.

[Picture of a man bowing in front of a globe with a cross on it - we Bow our heads in gratitude] Tribute was paid to the Red Cross in this very fine stage decoration at Stalag VIIIB.

“THE march is over and done with. We carried it through with the ever-steady British spirit, in spite of quite unnecessary indignities imposed by the Germans.

“We left Thorn (Poland) on the 20th January, foot-slogging from that date until we finished up not far from Hanover on the 6th April.

“We started off on snowbound roads, several feet deep, with home-made sledges loaded with what kit we could carry. The first night was spent in the open with the snow as our mattress. It was surprisingly warm! The rest of the way we slept herded together in barns and cowsheds amongst the animals.

“Fortunately the weather was, on the whole fair, so that we were spared the discomfort of marching in wet clothes during our 400 miles trek.

“Sometimes eight men shared one loaf of bread a day, but more often than not there was no bread at all. Occasionally we received thin, watered soup made from swedes and potatoes. We were so hungry we ate any raw vegetables that came our way, and liked them. There were no Red Cross food parcels to help as the Germans had ordered all stocks in Stalag XXA to be consumed by the end of the second week in January.

“All through the weary days of the long march the Germans showed no sympathy for the inadequate food, warmth and shelter provided for the prisoners. When at last the men could march no farther, and the Americans were reported to be advancing rapidly, the German leader, not wanting to be caught himself, agreed to let them remain where they were.

“Now, as I write, I am a free man, sportingly clothed in a light silk American shirt, wide open at the neck, matched by a similarly light pair of khaki daks, with sandals on the hardened soles of my feet, and somewhat swollen ankles. It is heaven to have plenty of hot water and a hot shower whenever we want, and to be shaved – if we need it twice a day. I feel definitely a clean and healthy man again.

“We have out American allies to thank for our timely rescue. They went out of their way to ensure we had at once every comfort we desired.

“It is difficult to realise we are no longer prisoners, but our own masters under Allied Command. We are in charge of this camp, which is really a civilian evacuee camp, flying the British Red Cross flag. It is housing people of many nationalities - Russians, Poles, French, Italians, Serbs, Jugo-Slavs, Lithuanians, South African natives, and women and children.”

Bridging the Gap

REPATRIATED prisoners of war who are discharged or released from the Service are to have an opportunity to accustom themselves gradually to social surroundings once again by entering voluntary camps. These camps, which are to be set up by the Army in pleasant surroundings near towns all over the country, will be known as Civil Resettlement Units. Any man who is interested may select one near his home and will probably stay there between four and six weeks. It is, however, possible to leave a t any time within that period, or the course can be lengthened if necessary up to three months. Only men who have been discharged, or are about to be discharged, are eligible.

Half-way House

As a half-way house between Army and home life, C.R.U.s are to be run on realistic lines with full awareness of the things for which they cater. Discipline is cut to a minimum, and a man’s only duties will be to keep his bed and belongings tidy. (Incidentally, it is to be a real bed with springs, and he will sleep between sheets.) Breakfast will be at 8 a.m., and the programme for the day begins at 9.0 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. During this time the repatriate may choose between films, talks and discussions which will bring him up to date with events which have taken place during his absence; visits to factories, technical schools and offices and other outings, so that to a great extent he will arrange his own day. Facilities will be available for advice of qualified persons on employment, finance, health and personal matters. There will be light physical exercises and optional games to vary the day.

During “working” hours repatriates will wear uniform. Later they may change into civilian clothes whether they stay in the camp during the evening or go out. Week-end leave (Friday night to Monday morning) can always be arranged for those who choose to go home, and sleeping-out passes will be given to those whose homes are nearby.

Usual pay and allowances are allotted according to the man’s war substantive rank. The period spent at a C.R.U. in no way affects length of leave, possible claim for pension, or reinstatement rights into a pre-war job.

All home-coming P.o.W.s will receive a pamphlet telling them about these units and giving a good deal of other information which may fill in some of the gaps the P.o.W.s noticed in letters from home whilst in a prison camp. “Changes have taken place,” the pamphlet relates, “in Civvy Street. Your friends have been engaged in war work. Many are on jobs that did not exist before. There are ration cards and wartime regulations. Your wives, mothers, and sisters have carried the burden of war work as well as the extra difficulties of wartime housekeeping. It is a different world in many ways from the one you left.

“You have changed too. You are older than when you joined the Army. You are more experienced … You have a new outlook on civil life, a more developed outlook, and quite possibly a better one than before. But you will need time to find your feet again. Going back after all these changes will not be easy … You may feel confused until you have got used to civil life again. It is to help you bridge this gap between the Army and civil life that C.R.U.s have been set up.”

[Page break]

8 The Prisoner of War JUNE, 1945

Released Doctor’s Tribute

TWO R.A.M.C. doctors now back in England after long years spent in German captivity have made some interesting observations about their experiences.

Doctor C. was a senior medical officer for 18 months at a hospital in Poland. “I would like tit to be known,” he said, “that hundreds of our lads would never have survived the first year of their captivity if it had not been for the splendid work of the Polish civilians, who at great personal risk smuggled in supplies of bread and other necessities during that first period before the Red Cross machinery got working. The penalties were severe, but they did not hesitate to help in every way they could.”

Praising the Invalid Comforts Section of the Red Cross, the doctor said: “Whatever we asked for in the way of medical supplies or surgical equipment was sent out to us via air from Lisbon. This section has done one of the greatest jobs of the war.”

Another doctor, writing to the Invalid Comforts Section, said: “I am sure you can well realise the almost incredible state one gets into on first being in England again after five years over there. Thank you very much for your wonderful personal interest in us all. It has meant so much to mothers to feel that someone was actually thinking about us as people, and not just as P.o.W. numbers.

“You will be pleased to hear that our surplus stocks of food parcels and the invalid diet parcels, actually, fed the whole hospital, and the staff at Marienburg (XXB) for about a month and also during the long trek in farm carts from Marienburg to Warsaw.”

Film Story of Camp Life

A FILM entitled Lovers Meeting will be made shortly by Ealing Studios. The story reveals what happened to a group of men, captured during the battle of France in 1940, after the barbed wire closed round them, and how their next of kin spent the empty years between the men’s departure and their return home.

The story traces the reactions of the prisoners throughout the psychological stages of their confinement. It shows how at first disillusionment took control, with its attendant loss of faith. The gradually self-respect and hope returned. The arrival of the Red Cross parcels is shown, with all that they meant to the men, not only in material benefits, but in the realisation that they were not forgotten by the people at home. The periods of boredom are portrayed; the days of rain and cold, when the thoughts turned inward, and spirits were cramped by isolation and barbed wire.

The climax of the story comes with repatriation.

Out from the Battle!

AN exhibition entitled “out from the Battle!” is being arranged by the British Red Cross and St. John War Organisation in collaboration with the War Office and the Army Medical Services. It is being sponsored by the Daily Herald, and will be held in the grounds of Clarence House, St. James’s Park, by kind permission of His Majesty the King, from June 12th to July 31st, 1945. All proceeds will go to the Duke of Gloucester’s Red Cross and St. John Fund.

The exhibition will show the whole process and treatment of wounded men from the moment they become battle casualties until they reach a base hospital and convalescent home.

The R.A.M.C. is putting on realistic reproductions of a Regimental Aid Post; Casualty Collecting Post; Advanced Dressing Station; Mobile X-Ray Unit; Field Operating Theatre; Field Hospital Ward.

Visitors will be able to see how the basic work of the R.A.M.C. in the field is supplemented by welfare officers, stores and comforts of the British Red Cross and St. John War Organisation.

Graphic displays in a series of huts will illustrate:-

(1) Evacuation of the wounded by road, rail, ship and air, and a unique exhibition of captured German medical equipment, ranging from a mobile resuscitation outfit to paper bandages.

(2) The production, testing and uses of penicillin, and the collection, treatment and distribution of blood to the wounded.

(3) The work of the Army Dental Corps in the field, with a special exhibit showing the skill employed in dealing with maxillo-facial injuries.

(4) How the Hygiene Branch of the Medical Services deals with the prevention and extermination of disease – with particular reference to jungle warfare.

(5) How the British Red Cross and St. John War Organisation aids the wounded and their relatives.

(6) Occupational therapy; with a remarkable display of craftmanship by wounded men.

(7) The work of Hospital Libraries.

An R.A.M.C. Austin ambulance will be on show which was abandoned in 1940 at Dunkirk, and used for four years by the Germans who repaired it and fitted metal panelling to the interior. The Germans took the ambulance to the Russian Front, but on D-Day sent it back for service in France. It was recaptured by the British at Commeaux on August 20th, 1944. Now with a mileage record of 100,000 miles, the vehicle has been loaned to the Exhibition by the Austin Motor Company, to whom it was presented by Field Marshal Montgomery.

The Exhibition will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sundays 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.).

Exam. Successes

DURING the past month 131 examination results have been announced for prisoner of war candidates. These include passes in Hungarian, Modern Chinese, Malay and Persian, the papers for which were sent by the School of Slavonic Studies and the School of Oriental Studies.

Flt.Lt. A.P.L. Barber has passed the LL.B. Final Examination of the University of Leeds with First Class Honours.

A group of fifteen officers formerly in Oflag XIIB have taken the Senior General Examination of the Royal Horticultural Society, and all of them have passed first-class. The group includes two brigadiers and three lieutenant colonels and one South African captain.

Several Camp Education Officers have informed Red Cross that before leaving Germany they packed up a number of complete examination scripts and handed them over to responsible officers of the liberating forces with the request that they should be despatched to the New Bodleian. It is hoped that these scripts will eventually reach England safely, as many ex-prisoners of war now in this country have written to enquire about their examinations.

All information concerning examinations will be passed on to ex-prisoner of war candidates by the Educational Books Section as soon as available.

Repatriates, Please Note

The Indoor Recreations Section much regrets that their small stock of musical instruments, for distribution to repatriated prisoners of war, is now exhausted. A supply of music and artists’ materials is still available on application to St. James’s Palace, London, S.W.1.

[Boxed] HAVE YOU MOVED?

If so, do not forget to notify the Army, Navy or R.A.F. authorities as well as the Red Cross of your change of address. [/boxed]

Printed in GREAT BRITAIN for the Publishers, THE RED CROSS AND ST. JOHN WAR ORGANISATION, 14, Grosvenor Crescent, London, S.W., by THE CORNWALL PRESS LTD., Paris Garden, Stamford Street, London, S.E.1.

Collection

Citation

Great Britain. Red Cross and St John war organisation. Prisoners of war department, “The Prisoner of War June 1945,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 20, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22591.

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