WW II, a British focus  



Memories of Flight Sergeant Harry Tenny

I was busy in the woods foraging for food I was amazed to see a lot of trees were bearing Germans instead of fruit. The Russians indeed got their revenge but it was not a pretty sight to see as the bodies swung to and fro in the wind.

The Russians had not finished yet, they did not take lightly to being taken POW and some were even shot for being taken POW. Some classed it as cowardice.

Some thought better to be shot fighting than finish up in a Gulag in Siberia and a living death.

I had more unique experiences during these few days when I was looking for food for George and myself than the rest of my time as a Kreigsgefangener, or as we say in English a Prisoner of War.

I will jot these down here as they come back to me.

This period of the war was probably the most dangerous for yours truly as the great Russian Army did not seem to have any kind of order. It did not in fact have an Army catering Corps; I never saw evidence of field kitchens or any evidence of a cook house to feed the troops.

When George and I were out rummaging for food we came upon a group of soldiers with a beast on a spit above a fire while the Russian soldiers, men and women, sat around drinking Vodka.

They seemed to exist on this diet and smoked horrible cigarettes. The best way to smoke these cigarettes was to pinch the cardboard tube that kept the tobacco and dust from entering the lungs, it also prevented the mouth from becoming mummified.

This was a dangerous time also because some German soldiers having stolen civilian clothes had kept their hand guns which were concealed.

Some Russian women peasants who had never before seen a water toilet began to use them as a washing bowl. Since the cookhouse in the camp was no longer manned there was no longer any soup being made, it was suggested that all the food had been taken by the Russians which meant it was every man for himself.

Since food finding was my first priority I set about it with determination. I made friends with two Johny Gurkas who were also out scrounging anything that could be eaten, and we eventually ended up at a farm where a lot of grunting and squealing of pigs.

But the only way to get to the pigs was through a tiny window high up.

I agreed to help one of them climb in, after which the other was to help me up. Then we could dispatch the pigs at our leisure.

But by the time I got in the Gurka had dispatched the lot. All we had to do now was to lift the pigs out then climb out ourselves and get away as quickly as possible.

I was sure glad the Gurka were allies and not enemies, I have never seen animals dispatched as quickly and efficiently as those pigs.

I presumed the German farmer had seen us coming and had hidden away thinking his life was in danger.

But there was a sequel to this escapade. Unknown to us the whole farm had been taken over by the local Russian Commissar. Warning posters informed all and sundry that it was protected property and anyone found degrading or looting would be shot.