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|On 1 Dec 1939, my dad was called up for Military Service and reported to Black Watch HQ in Perth for basic training. He was posted to No 8 Inf Holding Battalion, The Black Watch (R.H.R.) The Highland Brigade. He was a fireman on the steam trains and returned to this after the war.
May Jun 1940, St Valery-en-Caux, France. Badly equipped, ill prepared and not expecting Hitler’s crack panzer divisions to be chasing them, the 51st Highland Division were left behind enemy lines, while the escape was made at Dunkirk. Thousands were killed and about 10,000 captured by Germans. I know he was marched across France, Germany, Poland and to Russia and back. They were starving and exhausted and struggled to hold up their friends who were shot if they fell.
In 1942 He was in Stalag VIII-B in Cieszyn, Poland. By 1945 he was at Stalag 21D photos in kitchen – dad is on the far right. I would like to know who the other men are. They all look happy and healthy which pleases me greatly. The 2nd photo was also taken at POW camp, dad on left and friend unknown – do you recognise him?
There was a polish camp nearby and he said they treated the poles terribly, and the Russians worse. He learned high class German in the camps from the officers and continued German classes post war. He escaped with a bloke who spoke no German and they made it to Paris, the highlight being in a cafe and ordering “Oeuf, pomme de terre frites s’il vous plait” (egg & chips). Sadly they were captured by the Gestapo on a bus as they had no papers, despite my dad doing the talking and the mate playing dumb. He was interrogated by the Gestapo who thought he was a spy due to high class German. He talked about the Chinese feather torture and Chinese water torture, I don’t know what really happened.
In 1945 the camp Stalag 21D was liberated by the Americans and my dad got on a motorbike to show them where the Germans had gone.
He never went back to Germany. I remember a couple of Spanish holidays and trips to Jersey. It took me 40 years to go and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Germany and the people and have managed to let go of the grudge I held for so long.
Along with the photos, I have his service book and that of a German soldier – I don’t know why he has it.