WW II, a British focus



Memories of Flight Sergeant Harry Tenny

We walked out of the camp and down a dusty road until we came to the village of Muhlberg.

We then turned right and came to a smaller camp that was to be our home for the duration of this Commando.

We quickly picked our bed space and got settled in, then got to know each other since most were from different huts in the big camp.

One of the first things a POW does out on a work party is check out who is who because the Germans had a nasty habit of installing a stooge in amongst us.

We would also check out and choose a bloke who was termed a "mucker"

A good "mucker" was someone you shared everything with and you kept an eye on each others belongings, as well as sharing any extra food that came our way.

A "mucker" had to be honest with his offsider or the partnership was doomed from the start. A bloke on his own could have a hard time in POW camp and become a target for any thieves that were on the prowl especially if he had just got a personal parcel from home containing cigarettes.

Thankfully thieves were scarce in the British barracks. I managed to find a cracking good bloke who had been taken POW on Crete in 1941 and he had a good working knowledge of German.

The following day about forty of us were taken down to the banks of the river Elbe. Then we had to load crates onto a train to be taken to various towns and cities that had been bombed out by the R.A.F.

The crates contained all kinds of furniture to be issued to the people who had lost theirs in the bombings.

I had decided by now, that it was time I made a move as the R.A.F. had instructed us.

But George my "mucker" had no intention of doing anything of the sort, so I had to bide my time and carry on, but at the same time keeping wide awake should the opportunity to escape present itself.

The other POWs were not aware of my true identity at this time, and would possibly have laughed if I had revealed my rank and made it clear I was the highest rank in the small camp.

When all the furniture had been dealt with we were amazed to find, tied up by the river bank, four ocean going barges.

Having got on board we found half eaten meals and children's toys scattered about all over the place. We deduced they had been stolen from Holland and the owners were now themselves in Political Prisoner camps along with their children.

Our job was to strip the barges, but to what end remained a puzzle.

However we worked as slow as possible and were determined that the Hun would not get to use these barges if we had any say in the matter.

When the guard was not aware we loosened pipes and in some cases stuffed other pipes with so much rags and rubbish that on starting the engines they would choke or blow up.

After a few months of saving chocolate and dried raisins from Red Cross parcels and swapping George cigs for food we decided we would take the first opportunity to escape.