WW II, a British focus



memories of Pte Tom Barker
1st Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Tom Barker passed on October 1st 2008poppy.gif - 1571 Bytes


I often think about the time when I saw Adolf Hitler in person, he was sitting in the lounge carriage of this all black heavily armoured train which looked streamlined. Immediately behind the engine and tender was a flat wagon with armour plated ends and sides and it held multi barrelled anti aircraft guns. After that was a black carriage, presumably for the SS guards to live in, followed by a carriage which was obviously for Adolf to live in. Then there was the lounge carriage and another carriage with SS guards followed by another flat wagon with steel armour round it and the same AA and machine guns as the one at the front of the train. It looked like some thing out of a kid's comic book, all black, sleek, heavy with armour plating and sinister.

I was on a work commando and we had been waiting for a train to take us to our labours, and if memory serves me right, the railway station was named Grunwald. The station master came out of his office and talked to our guard who immediately marched us off the platform and I noticed a couple of civvy police men ushering the other people off the premises. Once the station was cleared we waited about 150 yards away in this lane. All was quiet for about ten minutes, then like a slow motion film this all black steel monster glided into the station and stopped, the SS manning the AA and machine guns were ever on the alert and when the train had stopped an SS guard with a machine pistol at the ready positioned himself at the door to the lounge carriage. We were wondering what was going to happen next. I could see Hitler as plain as day and he was busy talking to some one opposite across the table.

All I had to do was snatch the rifle off the guard next to me and put a shot through the lounge window of the carriage he was sitting in, and at the range of about 150yrds I could not miss. So what stopped me from getting my name in the history books, well there was not time to hold a census on wether or not to do it, also I had no right to put my friends lives in jeopardy by not stopping to think, which is what I was prone to doing. But this time common sense dictated that if indeed the glass of the window of the lounge carriage was armoured then not only would my venture be in vain but all the blokes on this commando, including myself, and possibly the German guard with us, would have been put up against the wall and shot.

Now there were quite a few of us on that commando and today I would applaud any one of you writing to me and saying " hello again".

2982252 Pte Barker T.O. 1st Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, Born 23 May 1921.
Tom Barker