WW II, a British focus  



Memories of Flight Sergeant Harry Tenny

I think the civilians on the station saw the funny side of it. Fifty Russians with two guards then a mere two British Tommy's with eight guards each armed with a rifle and an Officer with a pistol on his belt.

The civilians had nothing else to laugh at perhaps at the best of times. But it did not please our guards and our journey was not a pleasant one.

When we got off the train the guards made us move quicker so as to get us out of sight of their own people hoping to curb further embarrassment.

This new camp was Elsterverde and was purely British but the senior man was a South African. This did not sit too well with most as a lot thought most South Africans were pro German.

The first thing the Camp Commandant did on our arrival was to show us a bullet hole in the wall of his office. He also told us he had shot and killed an Englander and continued to rave on how he would be delighted if we would continue to do our duty and try to make our last attempt at escape and make him a very happy man.

We did indeed find out that he had killed a man the week prior to our arrival but we could not find out why.

We were sent to work night shift on a steel works so that the factory never stopped. There were all nationalities here, talk about the League of Nations!!

A very funny thing happened each night. The Brits had commandeered the high end of the bog. The bog was the name given to this toilet because it was near a natural bog and all the waste was going down the sloping chute helped along by water.

Since other nationalities were using the bog at lower levels the Brits would take extra newspaper as bog paper and wait until there were a few bog users then light the paper and it would float down to cries of anger and pain as the paper denuded private parts of their curly hair.

Because it was about fifty feet long it some times resembled a fair ground with heads bobbing up and down to the smell of burning hair.

One soon began to learn swear words in Swahili and other languages very quickly and increased one's vocabulary to no end.

We damaged everything we could see lying around on the floor as long as noone was watching. The German civilians were working like demons and were afraid to speak to us. I honestly think they were afraid of each other if the foreman was anywhere around.

George was taken away one day and I was left in the camp wondering what had happened to him. But after a week he came back and I was taken in his place to a small building in the center of the village.

The guard just shoved me into this small stone building, locked the door and left me to my own devices, namely killing bugs and fleas that were too numerous to count.