Where did they work?

'All over. There was a lot was there before we went there. There was Russians there then. There was a lot of the buggers buried there as well, I think.'

What did they have to eat?

'Just what we had when we first got there, before we started getting the parcels. They were like that all the time. And what they could cadge or pinch or whatever. But we used to get them regular. Used to get them every week, once they started.'

So how long was it before you got the parcels?

'About six weeks, two months before we started getting them and then they started coming. Why, it was great after that!'

Up to the end of the war?

'Right up to practically before we buggered off. The old gaffer down at the brickyard, Old Dietrich, he used to keep pigs. There was half the brickyard they never used to use and he had these kilns and I saw him putting these potatoes, putting them into the kilns and they had straw in front of the entrance to keep the frost out. And me and Danny, we used to go in there and Danny had a haversack and we used to go and fill the bugger up with tatties, pig tatties. We used to get that, say on a Friday night and that would last us over the week end--because we were getting the parcels then.

'We used to boil then and then we used to have tins of salmon in each parcel. We used to muck in: used to eat one first and then the other. That's where I got the tatties and salmon from. A staple meal in the family ever since. 'We used to take a pound tin of butter. Used to boil the tatties, mash them up. Put a great lump of butter in, half a tin of salmon and we'd get dug into that.'

What did you get for breakfast?

'Nowt! We had a container full of coffee, ersatz. Any amount of that, as much as you could drink. That's what we used to get on a morning, a cup of that. That's all we used to get. And then on the night we used to eat the skilly and the bread and we had nowt left till the next day.'

What the ersatz coffee like?

'I suppose if it had milk and plenty of sugar in it would be all right.' Which you never had. 'Oh, we used to drink it. You could warm it up, see and get a drink. And then we started getting the parcels and that made all the difference.

'We used to go into the dining hall--they had a big brick place where they used to have a table and forms, where they used to get their meals. And there was a fire--like a place inside. And they always used to bring in these bowls, with handles, full of soup. They used to put them inside the fire, like with bricks and they used to have that for their dinners. We used to get a bottle of pop. They used to get a bottle of beer--but it was non-alcoholic. A half pint bottle of beer every day for them and they used to give us a bottle of pop, a little bottle of pop. That's all we had. We had nothing to eat from six o'clock on the night to six o'clock the next night. Why, aye, we had no parcels.'

You could drink as much ersatz coffee as you wanted?

'Oh aye, we used to get a big container full of it. Why, there was 24 of us.'

What about clothes?

'I didn't have anything. There was none of us had top coats. When the winter came they rigged us all out with
owt--anything. I got an old French Army top coat, used to wrap it around us and I had an old Italian belt, used to put the belt on and I had a French hat.'

Like the policeman?

'No, one of them that comes up at the front, like you see on the television. Like a side hat, a Glengarry. But the front used to come up like the Yankees, they used to wear them 'an all. I had one of them. Our boots were bad, like.'

And then you got the battle dress uniforms from the Red Cross?

'There was a red triangle on your back and one on your knee.'

Did you get paid for your work at the brickyard?

'You used to get something, but you could only spend it at the canteen, you could buy a little comb, tooth powder, stuff
like that. No, that was our pay when we used to get the parcels on a Friday night.'

NEXT PAGE, continued.