(and some harrowing sites)

Later on in September, Sammy Crichton swapped over again with Jack Patterson, the observer on our crew. Jack was sent to a working party at Aushwitz, where he could observe first hand the grim fate of the Jews. Our Wireless Operator, Frank Linklater was on the party with Jack. In the main camp, one was isolated from the outside world but on a working party it was different. I recall on our way to our work-party we were walking by some closed boxcars at a railway station when we heard horrible mourning sounds coming from some of the cars. Inside them were Ukrainian women, they had been indiscriminately gathered up and put into these railway cars for slave labor in Germany. They may have left children and family behind. Forty or fifty women confined in a box car must have been horrible for them. On the work-party I saw crews of Jews, they were old men, women and children. They all had the Star of David on their backs. They were working on railway lines and they generally had a couple of guards who carried long whips. It was a brutal sight. We also saw Poles with the "P on their backs and the Ukrainians and Russians with O.S.T. on their backs. There were also the Russian POWs, their uniforms were a quilted material and whenever they had a chance they would pick the lice out of their uniforms. It was summertime and it was so hot but obviously the Russians only had the clothes they stood
in. Most of them wore clogs. They were obviously half-starved and a dispirited lot. Johnny would speak to any of these people, if there was an opportunity.

There were quite a few Polish airmen in our camp, they had escaped to England and had joined the R.A.F. About twelve of them escaped from the camp early in 1943. They must have had help from Polish sources. By the fall they had all been recaptured and the Germans decided to move them. The Germans knew Johnny could speak fluent Polish and as he already had a record of two escapes they moved him out to Barth, Poland - Stalag I. He was there a short while and moved to Stalag IV B which was West of VIII B.

While Johnny was still with us the Germans were short a set of handcuffs from our compound. We spent countless hours on the Parade Square while they searched the barracks for those handcuffs and never found them. Imagine my surprise while visiting Johnny in Regina in 1956 or so, he brought out the missing handcuffs. And, incidentally, his daughter Jo-Anne still has them. It was a sad day when Johnny left, he was a true buddy and comrade.

When Johnnie and I were recaptured, we still had no news of Les Nichols (Nick). Nick finally came back to Lamsdorf after his appendix operation, but Johnnie had already been moved, first to Stalagluft I at Barth, then to Stalagluft IV_B (West of VIII_B). Nick had had his operation in a convent hospital and he had been treated well. Apparently, the Sisters had made a bit of a fuss over him; probably because he was still a young lad of 18.
I wanted to let Johnnie know that Nick had returned and was well so I sent him the following "Kriegsgelangenenpost Postkarte" from the Lamsdorf Camp.
I thought that the card might get through better if I made out that I was Johnnie's brother. It was forwarded from Stalagluft I to Stalagluft IV_B. Johnnie kept the card and his daughter showed it to me when I first met her a few years ago.
The text of the card reads:
Dear brother Johnnie. Well kid how's it going.
I sure hope everything is going okay with you and
your camp is okay. Have had a fair bit of mail from
home lately and everything is okay. I reckon they're
making all us guys Warrent Officers. Nick is
okay now, and the boys here say hello. Send my regards
to Mother and Marie. So long for now kid all the best in the world
as ever Don

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