News Archive - February 2009
In January, Rev. Malcolm Grant showed slides of Rome which included not only the famous churches, palaces, statues etc which are quite rightly advertised widely by the travel industry, but many less well known places, - quiet squares, small but beautiful churches and hidden alleyways, all accompanied by detailed information.
John Batley held everyone's attention at the February meeting as he recounted his experience of being a prisoner of war in Germany, having been captured at Arnhem in September 1944. John had the sense (some 60 years ago!) to write down his story which can now be retold with detail and accuracy. We heard of the privations of prison life - the delight on receiving food parcels (the Canadian ones were the best) the difficulties brought about by the inactivity and boredom; eventually being sent to work on the German railways, which were being bombed by the RAF; but surprisingly, they were able to keep up to date with what was happening in the war. There were illicit radio receivers in the camp - which the German guards never discovered - and each day the news was taken down in shorthand, transcribed, copied, and given to each hut, where it was read out by the officer in charge.
When the war ended, a dozen or so of the prisoners decided to start to walk westward, but eventually reached a river which they could not cross. They were lucky enough to find an abandoned farm, where they were suddenly able to eat very well, and stayed there until a Russian platoon arrived, and forced them to work on building a bridge across the river. Unaccountably, the Russians disappeared during the night, but the next day some German people took them across the river in small boats. They managed to walk until they came to a 'clearing depot' where they could be repatriated. Apparently, John had never seen so many people in one place before, but so many planes were available, it was the most efficient operation he had seen during the war.
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