Map copied from "Lie in the Dark and Listen" by Ken Rees

It was on Saturday, January 27, 1945, that we were first warned by the Germans that we were to be ready to move on foot in one hours time. This was postponed several times and we finally moved off at intervals of about one hour. North Camp started moving at one o'clock in the morning of the next day (Sunday). We had been assembled and moved to the outside of the camp in weather that was violently cold, windy and snowing heavily. We stood in these conditions for an hour before being ordered to march. Previous to the move out I had knocked up a sledge from what was left of my old wooden bed and had put the few items of my clothing, and food etc., in it along with some similar items belonging to another Kriegie. We towed the sledge with all the other members of our motley crowd of Kriegies, escorted of course by a number of aging but armed Luftwaffe guards. We were trudging through the snow to where, we did not know! This went on for some time until evening came.

That night, the Germans pushed the bunch that I was with into a farmyard and we found shelter in a barn that was full of old carts, including an old Handsome Cab.

From an e-mail by Marilyn Walton, 6 December. 2008.
"Someone just sent me this picture, so I scanned it into my computer. Maybe you have seen it. It was taken on the long march out of the camp in 1945. You can see a German guard standing near the barn door here, and you can see kriegies sleeping on the floor. Emmett Cook, who recently passed away, had this picture. Not sure if he took it with a clandestine camera or who did. It was taken from up in the barn loft. What a piece of history! I compared it with a modern-day picture of one of the barns in Poland, and I am pretty sure it is a barn in Graustein, the town before Spremberg".

This was able to house two men on top and four inside. However, Charlie Thorpe, myself, and one other POW named Peter Waddington had to kip on the ground between the wheels. It was still snowing outside and MIGHTY COLD! I had been marching, or rather sludging, along in a pair of brand new boots that had been given to me by Charlie, who got them from "Wenty" (Wentworth) Beaumont. (Wenty later became Viscount Allendale after the war, inheriting the title from his father who had passed away while Wenty was in Sagan). Unfortunately, these boots were too small but I managed to squeeze my feet into them. However they froze in the bitter cold and I had to take them off that night. I used one as a pillow, but the other one got temporarily lost in the fray. You can imagine what a shambles was going on as everyone desperately tried to find shelter. Some managed to shelter in a haystack but they still froze. After I had been laying on the ground for some time, I started to shiver from head to foot. Charlie Thorpe, who was next to me, realised I was in a state and started to shake and pummel me to get some life back into my body. Eventually, I managed to get off to sleep and when I woke up the next morning I tried to put my boots back on. The one I'd used as a pillow wasn't too bad, but the other one was frozen solid. Fortunately, Charlie took this one into the farm and managed to thaw it out on the fire. After a while I managed to get it on but it was still very, very, tight. However, I had to walk in it as I didn't have any other choice.

The Glass Factory at Muskau as it is today. (The chimney is still standing and casts a shadow over the roof).

We reached a small town called Muskau the next day. I got it into my head that we were heading for Moscow! Fortunately, I was wrong and we were still in Poland. I had to laugh when I thought we were going to Moscow in order to thaw out, especially when it turned out that we were placed in a glass manufacturing plant and we were housed on a platform surrounding a pool of hot molten glass. Although the heat was very welcome, we were a bit worried about the fact that Breslau was being bombed by the Russians that night. We could hear the bombs going off and thought they would see the glow of the molten glass and try to bomb us, not knowing we were there. However, the night passed off all right and we managed to get a few potatoes from some of the workers. These were then cooked on top of the furnace with the molten glass in the centre. Along with several other amusing incidents that happened here, we were also able to have ourselves some very welcome instant brew-ups of tea by the same method.

We were at the glass factory for two days before being assembled outside and marched off to a German barracks where we were given some soup (or rather cabbage water). At least it was hot, which was something to be thankful for. After about an hour, we moved off again to a railway siding and were crammed in to some rail cars. These rail cars had bars on the side and I managed to tie one of my blankets into a hammock for me to use, as there wasn't room for everyone to sit down - let alone lie down! I stayed in this hammock for the rest of the journey, which was quite long. We traveled South of Berlin and progressed up to Tarmstedt, near Bremen.
When we reached Tarmstedt we were taken off the train and marched for three kilometres through mud and rain to a Naval POW camp named MARLAG MILAG NORD. (Go to a story of one of the Navy POWs that were also there). We were in this camp from February 5 through April 9, while the ground war got closer and closer. While we were there, the Goons allowed us to hold a memorial service on Sunday March 25th for our fifty comrades who were executed a year earlier at the time of the Great Escape. The Germans very sensibly stayed well out of the way while this was going on.
On the 9th of April we were told that we were going to have to leave the camp as the Allied troops were getting too close. Our policy was to make this move as slowly as possible until we were finally forced to start moving at gun point. After a false start on the 9th we finally got going on our 'Final March to Freedom' the next day.

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