WW II, a British focus



Memories of Flight Sergeant Harry Tenny

At night we had a birds eye view of the raids that were intensifying during this period. We could see the sky lighting up at night from our camp and also hear the engine noises of some of the planes limping home after dropping their load, while we pondered afterwards if the lads got home safe.

I had persuaded George that it was worth having a shot at escaping, if only to break the monotony of the camp and get away from some of the inmates of our hut, as we are not all alike, are we?

So a time arrived when George and I just strolled to the back of the hut and cut the wire and made for the stand of trees not far away. We hid by day and traveled by night, but sometimes in the dark with streams and dykes, it wasn't exactly the jaunt we had anticipated, but at least we were free even if it was a foreign country.

A bit of comic relief occurred when suddenly a ruddy great badger came galloping round a corner and knocked me over. We both scooted in the opposite direction without looking back, with legs going like the teeth on a clover mower.

We were on the loose for about ten days and on the tenth night it was raining so hard we had difficulty seeing very far. When we came upon an empty workman's hut we took shelter for the night.

But since we were wet through and tired out we overstayed our welcome, and at six a.m. the next morning a group of French POW with their German guards opened the door to find us curled up and asleep.

The German guards smelled two rats and leveled their guns and we were once again in the bag. But at least I had the satisfaction of knowing I had tried.

We were taken back to the big camp at Torgau.

Later in the war this was to be the meeting place of the Americans and the Russians.

But now the place was full of people from Cyprus and Bulgaria plus Hungarians and the like.

But there was a large contingent of British who could really look after themselves. After interrogation we were put in separate cells and on the walls of my cell were the names scratched of five R.A.F. who had been here the previous week or so.

We found out later these were the names of some of the seventy five who had taken part in the Great Escape and the Germans having recaptured most, and murdered "The Fifty" in cold blood.

The excuse was given that they were shot whilst escaping when in truth they were already caught. Hitler thought it might act as a deterrent to would be escape artists.

After about a month during which time I had been knocked out during a friendly boxing match, no one told me till after the event that my opponent was an ex Army champ.

But time passed and once again we were on the move to adventures new.

We were taken to a station where there were about fifty Russian POWs being guarded by two guards.

But George and I had a guard of eight men and an Officer and this caused no end of amusement to the Russians and embarrassment for the goons.