get up there and stand. I could watch out the window. I used to stand up there all day practically.

'But if you wanted a wet, the door was open about that far.' Three or four inches. 'The sliding doors and you could have a wet at any time. You could walk about. You had to go out to go to the toilet: off and back in. On a morning, that was the only chance to stretch your legs.

'Sometimes if you went through a station, the name was there and you could tell. We went through the Brenner Pass, I think we went through Innsbruck, we went through Munich, I can remember that.

'You could tell you were in a different country from Italy. And it was getting colder as well. It was about September time. Why, it was nice in Italy, but by the time we got to Germany it was thick fog. Damp. Why, a lot of them, when they were in Italy, they'd cut the legs off their trousers and made shorts. When they got to Germany, the buggers was frozen!'

What did you have?

'I just had a battle dress, jacket and trousers, same as I had when I was took prisoner; shirt and underpants, what was left of them. And then we went into this camp, it was like a siding: Stalag IVB. We hadn't a clue where it was, but this little German officer, only a little fella, he spoke very good English, he got us all together with the guards around us and he says:

"You are now in Germany!" And then it was the usual patter: "If you keep yourselves right, you will be well treated, but if you try to escape you will be trod on very heavily."

'Then they marched us up and we went into this camp. He was only a little fella, I'll never forget it. Proper officer's uniform. He was smart. And then we were put into these huts. The siding was right on the edge of the camp. We just went up a few hundred yards and we went into like a reception hut. We went in there first. Why, it was night time, so we just bedded down anywhere, on the floor.

'And then the next morning we had to go and get deloused, bathed, haircut. They were Russian Prisoners of War doing it. They might have had others, too, but they were definitely Prisoners of War. You had to take all your clothes off and bundle them up and they had these like boiler things with steam and you had to put all your old clothes in there. They all went in and they were there for a certain amount of time. It was supposed to kill the lice. And then we went for a shower, cold water. Haircut. All off. The lot. Sheep shears. There was this Russian, you had to bend down in front of him and he went right over your head, the lot, just used to crop it.'

And there'd be a line of men behind you?

'Umm. Queuing up one minute and you were finished, just going along the line.

'Oh, there were guards all around, they were knocking about all over. But you were behind the wire, you couldn't get out, you were wired in. Then there was a bloke he had like a tar--I don't know what the hell it was--it was like a brush and you used to stand in front of him and he used to put it around your arm pits and around your privates and then you'd go somewhere else and when you got to the other end, you used to get your clothes back.'

Were they still wet?

'No, it was like a steam they used. It dried off straightaway but it was a horrible smell on them. It was some sort of disinfectant. And then they took us to this other hut and you got this card with your POW number on it and you had to stand with it like that on your chest and they took a photo.'

And that's when you got you metal dog tag?

'Aye. Die stamps. 227987, that was mine.'

Assembled from the British War Office POW Roll of 1945 (which listed every British Army POW held in Germany alphabetically by surname), I have rearranged the German POW numbers on either side of 227987 into a consecutive listing . This unique listing of names and numbers gives a fascinating snapshot of exactly who was in line for this process alongside Pte Tom Tunney in mid-September 1943:

227985 4D/Z Ainscough, J (RE)
227986 4B Scovell, H G Sgt (Royal Sus)
227987 4D/Z Tunney, Tom, Pte (16 DLI, 4469365) Bad Schmiedeberg W603
227988 4C Washington, Joe, Gnr (RA) Bad Schmiedeberg W603
227989 4C Couling, C. Pte (RASC)
227990 4D/Z Chuter, L J (RASC)
227991 4D/Z Weiner, H (RA)
227992 4B Cameron, J R L/Cpl (R Sigs)

To see the longer version of this listing click here.

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