WW II, a British focus  



Memories of Flight Sergeant Harry Tenny

This was the beginning of the end of captivity for us as the Americans were able to feed us K rations and also fresh veg that we had so missed. Erzats bread was suddenly off the menu and replaced by white fresh bread. Strangely enough we had to get used to it again and some preferred the blackbread.

We were then packed on a train that took us to Halle, a large town and made the Germans house us whilst we were fed in a large hanger. In fact it was the Herman Goering barracks and very large.

George was feeling better now having had treatment for the desert sores. They were getting better by the day.

George and I were put into the house of a couple in their fifties, of course they did not want the war like a lot of other civvies we met. We were given their bedroom and they had to sleep anywhere they could. The Officer in charge of the Americans had no time for Germans dead or alive.

I wondered why he had such a hatred one day and found out he had seen one of the many concentration camps, it was not one of the big ones, but he was sickened and appalled at what he saw.

There were dead and dying everywhere and he could not accept that being so close to the town the public knew nothing of what was going on here.

After attending to all the sick, he had posters posted that informed all the villages to bring spades or other tools to a meeting point on pain of death to clean up the camp and bury the dead. They turned up in old clothes but were sent back home with instruction to wear their Sunday best.

The Officers troops kept them there until all were buried and the place cleaned up. Only after he had inspected the area were the civilians allowed to go home.

We were in Halle for about a week when one day a fleet of Dakotas landed. We were loaded and transported to Brussels where we were issued clean uniforms and money. Then we were let loose in Brussels for the night, but since it rained all the night all we saw was the peeing man in the middle of the square. I always tell people about Belgium with my fingers crossed.

On the following morning after a very shallow sleep as the excitement of actually being on ones way home after two traumatic years away, and in captivity to boot, was enough to excite the so called tough guys.

We once again boarded the old Dakotas and set off for Blighty, and when we saw the white cliffs of Dover at last we knew we were home.

The good old R.A.F. did us proud and after a hurried interrogation we were on our way to dear old Rochdale with double rations for eight weeks and eight weeks leave after which I had to report for a medical and any airman who had lost weight with out an explanation had to end his leave and report to a hospital.

I had lost a lot of weight and most of what I was carrying now was potato water fat. With better food it soon began to disappear. Our butcher could not do enough for me and on having one medical I let slip I had got married. That led to me being sent home again. About a month later I was summoned again and for my final interrogation to find out if anyone had helped us during our escapes, but there was only one unknown peasant who gave George and I some spuds. We were unable to help and went home.