What was everyone's reaction to all of this?

'We were trying to make a joke out of it, laughing. And then we were allocated to these huts, proper huts with the double-tiered beds. There was a heating system in as well, but it never worked. It was like a couple of little coal fires and like a duct in between them, supposed to be hot air. Like a stove thing. We didn't really need them. I never saw them on. We were only there about a week. Ten days, at the most.'

So what was your routine over this period?

'The usual thing, used to get up, Roll Call. There was any amount of compounds in there. There was Dutch Police. They'd just brought them straight in, still in their uniforms and banged them in there.'

Could you talk to them?

'Oh, aye, you used to talk to them, if you went anywhere to do something used to bump into them. Maybe have to go for a vaccination or something like that, that's when we first got there. There was all different compounds. I can remember when we were coming in, there was a big Naval officer standing at the wire and we were going in along like this between the compounds, between the two sets of wire and he shouts out:

"Did you have a good journey, chaps?"

'A proper Navy man, beard on and everything. Must have been in there a canny bit to grow a beard, because they used to take all your hair off when you first went in.'

So people would shout out across the wire?

'Oh aye, they were always looking for somebody that they knew. That was the thing when you got into a new compound you were looking at everybody in case you might know them.

Did you have any surprise meetings that way?

'Oh aye, Les Rowley. Les, he was the first one I saw. Oh, that was in Camp 66, that was the first camp we were in. He was captured away from us, a bit further away. I think the Yanks got the hammer, the Yanks let him [the Germans] through. The Kasserine Pass, around about that area. We were further up. He was in the Engineers.'

What about Norman Cook? (who was in the same 16 DLI C Company Platoon and who was captured on the same day)

'I was with him all the time, right up till when they took us to the working camp. We got in the truck and that's when we got split up.'

My father's memory is at fault here: Norman Cook with him in Camps 66 and 53, but was trucked to Stalag 7A in September 1943 and ended the war in Stalag 11B.

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