My husband was an Australian POW and had been kept in the German Stalag 383 camp before the end of the war. He had been captured in Greece when his men marched into a trap. The Commander who collected war memorabilia was distracted by some debris and forgot to warn the men about the trap. They were taken over the mountains and anyone badly injured was shot. They marched into an aerodrome which had been heavily bombed by the British and instructed to dig a trench. The German soldiers were intending to line them up and gun them down. Essentially they were digging their own grave. One of the British officers suggested they spare them and use them to rebuild the aerodrome. This officer saved Ron’s life.
POW’s were sent parcels from Australia which included shoes which the German soldiers would steal as they were better quality. Ron had to wear wooden clogs which caused him to have permanent grooves in his heels which could easily rest a matchstick.
The POW’s would have what they called ‘crazy day’ where everyone in the camp would pretend to walk an imaginary dog and they would all play cricket but without bats or balls. The German soldiers thought they were mad. How else could they keep up their spirits?
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Originally published in Lila Jean Vintage Magazine Issue Two | Autumn 2015