Dave Scotts Diary
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Whilst a POW in Germany in 1944 I wrote a diary of my experiences. As it was written in pencil it faded badly so I decided to try and write a fair copy. This is it, plus later notes.

August 1999

David Scott Sgt F/E, RAF No 1061574.

Diary of myself and rest of my crew - July 28 1944
We set out from our base just before dusk on 28 July 1944. As it was our 26th operational flight we all felt extremely confident. The target was Hamburg which was a rather tough nut to crack. The pilot was F/O Don Ryan, navigator Bob Whitson, bomb aimer Al Durnin, R/O F/Lt Gordon Croucher, rear gunner Sgt Jack Imrie and mid upper gunner Sgt Harold Truscott. We had an extra under gunner, Sgt Blais, who was normal m/u gunner for P/O Kaspar’s crew. Our aircraft, M Mike (EQ-M) Lane MKII with Hercules engines, had just been completely re-engined and overhauled so I, as engineer, had decided to keep a good eye on the engines etc as it had not been test flown. However, they behaved perfectly and trouble came instead from an unexpected quarter. After crossing the Danish coast I switched on the pumps to transfer the No 3 tanks into the main centre wing tanks but a few minutes later when I again checked them I found the No 3 tanks were still full, which meant either the pumps had failed or they were pumping extremely slowly. I resolved not to worry the rest of the crew about this, but just mentioned to the skipper that they were slow. It was not possible to go back and check the fuses as we were now over enemy territory and all were needed to keep a look out. So I decided to check further when we were over the North Sea, realising if they did not work our chances of getting home were very slight. As I bent to check the gauges once more the bomb aimer reported flak ahead of the nose. I straightened to estimate its position but just as I moved there was a terrific triple crash from somewhere behind me.

Someone yelled on the intercom, “We’re hit,” and as I glanced to the engine panel to see the condition of the engines the Skipper gave the order to, “Bale out.” I remember feeling intensely annoyed at having to bale out before any further attempt to check; however, quick movement was necessary as I had not time to check anything in case I held up persons behind me that would be waiting to get out, so I quickly clipped on my ‘chute’, noted the Skipper already had his seat back, knelt on the floor and put the airscrews into course pitch so Don could clamber out of his seat easily. The bomb aimer was kneeling also, just below me, as he took off the hatch cover and just as he kicked it out I felt hot flames coming round my ears and burning petrol seemed to be heading along the floor, and I then heard someone screaming over the intercom. Al was out by then. As I moved forward the intercom plug pulled out and I heard no more. I took a header straight out and found myself falling head over heels through a thick cloud. As I was turning over and over I felt frantically for my parachute but could not find it at all. My first thought was that I had left it on the plane but then I remembered clicking it on so I realised it must have been torn loose from my chest and sure enough the next time I turned over I saw it hanging above my head still attached to the harness. I quickly clawed it down and pulled the ripcord handle; it almost immediately jerked open and I was at last hanging right way up swinging like a giant pendulum from the wind currents. My feet felt cold - no wonder, for, in my headlong descent, my flying boots had been torn off with my socks also gone, leaving me absolutely barefoot. I was still swinging but managed to correct it. Just then I felt a terrific crash jarring every bone in my body. The parachute sagged around me – I gathered my wits looked around and found myself draped over a lot of wires. I could not realise where I was at all in the dark, so I sat up and attempted to gather up the ‘chute and immediately found myself falling again. I crashed down, and blackness folded over me.

I awoke about 9 am in great pain. After a struggle I managed to sit up and pull the ‘chute over myself, and sank back again. I must have fainted, for when I next awoke the sun was quite high and I felt much easier. I found I was lying in a wheat field under an electric pylon, which I must have first hit. It was easily 25 ft high, and how I had survived without broken bones I cannot understand; the wheat must have broken my fall and, as it was a high tension pylon, it was perhaps my gathering up the chute that had saved me, as if I had touched the ground with the ‘chute still in the wires I should have been electrocuted.

The first thing I did was have a cigarette, then I tore strips off the ‘chute to bind my feet. I thought about the chances of walking out of Germany, though as I was roughly 30 miles NE of Hamburg there was little hope. I got out my escape maps and compass and tried to work out my position. I heard road traffic along a road nearby and also railway trains so I stood up cautiously to try and plot my position. I heard a shout – there was a farmer not ten yards away so there was no alternative but to give myself up. I could not go far and my back was really bad.

A procession formed to take me to the local police station, mostly children of course. I tried to find out the name of the village but could not make them understand at all. On the way we stopped at a house and the crowd shouted for the housewife – apparently she had been to America and could speak English. I should have liked to have chatted to her for a little while to ask if she had seen any others but there was not time.

We reached the police station and my escorts went back to their various duties. The policeman was exceptionally surly and he immediately led me off for a further two miles or so at a hot pace. My feet were in a mess walking on the loose gravel and I was bent double with my back. I did gather there was a wounded man in the village, but that was all I could find out, and the villagers also said a plane had crashed with dead men on board. But, again, the language difficulty could not be overcome.

Aside: a present day recollection. Whilst walking with the surly policeman I was just about all in, what with my feet and my back, which I just could not straighten. It was so bad I was walking with my eyes on the ground. However a very pretty blonde girl came past on a bicycle. I looked up at her in my misery and she flattened me with the remark in perfect English, “Serves you right!”

The policeman eventually brought me to a central station of his district. There I was searched and my possessions were placed in a bag and I was sent off with a new escort. He was a fat old soldier of the Wehrmacht and he spoke a little English, which he had picked up whilst working on the Hamburg-Amerika line. He was not a bad sort at all and instead of taking me straight to the railway station first stopped at the local barracks where he got me a cup of coffee, with some Yugoslav prisoners. We then went to the station. He told me my destination was Stade Luftwaffe station.

Later recollection: the Yugoslav prisoners produced a steaming mug of black coffee. It was just stiff with sugar - I guess their complete ration had gone into it. They could only communicate by rolling their eyes and slapping me on the back when their minders were not watching. By sign language they said they were mending the roads.

When the train pulled into the station my guard made to enter the 3rd class compartments. However we were met with such a storm of abuse we were obliged to get out again! My guard led me to a cattle truck at the rear of the train. Apparently, the German people objected to me travelling in the same carriage as the super-race. As if to make up for this, the guard gave me back my cigarettes, so I smoked the lot before I had them taken off me again. At Stade railway station I bade farewell to the friendly old soldier and was handed over to the Luftwaffe. With due ceremony, I was slapped into a car, with a couple of healthy sized airmen to make sure I did not make an escape. At Stade I was again searched, more thoroughly this time, and placed into a cell pronto. It was dark by this time and, although tired and hungry, I just could not sleep. I passed the time wondering what on earth could have happened to the rest of the crew. The friendly Wehrmacht guard said my friends were all killed but later I gathered that many aircraft had been shot down; therefore, I hoped that Don and the rest of the boys had managed to win clear.

The next morning I had an early awakening and set off to Stade station once more. On my way the lorry stopped at Stade police station and most of P/O Boehmer’s crew got on board. Apparently, they too had been shot down and all had managed to escape from the aircraft except the bomb aimer and engineer. I was especially sad about the latter as he had been a good friend. However, for some reason, our journey was cancelled and we returned to Stade, I presume because the railway had been damaged. I was returned to my bare cell, and made my first acquaintance with black bread. Although hungry, I could not eat it, but later we got some boiled potatoes and I managed those. Later, at about 6pm, we were again marshalled and eventually installed in a carriage on a train for Hamburg. There we changed trains to one for Frankfurt-an-Main. In the morning we got black bread and sausage. This time I had no trouble eating the bread, I was so hungry I could have tackled anything. Since then I have acquired quite a taste for it.

We got to Frankfurt on Monday morning, 31 July and, after walking through the city to the district line station, we got a small electric train to Oberusel. It took 40 minutes to march from one side of Frankfurt to the other and during the whole of that walk I never saw a complete building. It had been terribly damaged. We arrived at Oberausel to yet another search, very thorough of course. I was installed in a solitary cell - very sparse, bunk chair and water pitcher. It was no 1B, or einst bay, as the guard called it. Dinner eventually arrived - a plate of salty porridge. Then I was left alone until about 6pm when two slices of black bread with a daub of margarine came. No more activity until about 10pm when they locked the outside shutters on the frosted glass window. The idea, apparently, was to get your spirits down to zero before interrogation. They could not get further down with me as I was already fed up. Next morning I awoke early, had two more slices of bread, this time with molasses instead of margarine. One handy thing about Oberusel: you could tell the time by the chiming clock in one of the buildings; this made the day pass slower if anything. At about 10 o’clock I was escorted from my cell to another building. In there I was shown into an office, where a man dressed in civilian clothes gave me a short questionnaire to fill in. He also gave me a German cigarette, which was particularly poor quality, but waxed rather wroth when I only filled in my name, rank and no. So back to my cell I went, just in time to have my porridge mixture. The rest of the day passed exceedingly slow. I could sleep very little and passed away the time as best I could by plaiting my identity case cords. The next morning I was again summoned for interrogation, this time by a Luftwaffe officer. He motioned me to sit down, handed me a cigarette and chatted away about London and various innocuous topics. I smoked a couple of his cigarettes then he suddenly told me my Squadron, Con, unit, plane and many more details I had not known it was possible for the Germans to know. He got little from me, even though he generally answered his own questions. I was lucky as I could tell he had a low opinion of engineers’ intelligence and did not question me a lot. He told me that I should be moving over to the other side of the camp where we would be transferred from. I got back to my cell, had dinner then I was once more sent for, and had, an interview this time with a civilian. He was apparently there for propaganda reasons and kept telling me all about what a wonderful country Germany was. However, I disagreed with the old boy straightaway so he soon terminated the interview.

1999 note. The propaganda chap showed me a telephone, which also functioned as a radio programme receiver, and extolled the cleverness of German scientists who would win the war shortly. I asked him how, seeing as the allies were already in France, then he got huffy and said they would soon sweep them back into the sea. When I laughed he sent for the guard and dismissed me!

Just before the last meal of the day I was removed from my cell and taken to a large wooden hut. There were about 60 of us milling about in there, mostly American, and what a great relief it was to hear English and speak with compatriots. We were told we would be moving early in the morning to a transit camp, from where we would be sent to a permanent camp. Much talking was done in our new quarters, as you may well guess, for we had all been forbidden to speak since we had been captured and the talk was of escape from burning planes and crashing aircraft. Many of the Americans were pitiful sights as their aircraft were very flammable; also, they habitually used throat mikes and headphones so they were vulnerable facially more than we were in helmets and oxy masks. Even the worst burnt were amazingly cheerful; they did have their lives. Next morning we were marched down to the station; the wounded got a lorry. When we arrived at the station we were each given two cigarettes which went like wild fire!

1999 note. Lorries – a lot of the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht lorries were the old Bedford 4 x 4s, captured at Dunkirk I suppose. The civilian lorries were generally dragging a trailer behind them carrying a gas generator. This was stoked up with wood then closed down and the fumes were piped to the engine, which coughed and spluttered but moved along.

It was a long journey up through beautiful mountainous, wooded country before we reached Wetylau Transit Camp. There we were searched (again), photographed and issued with an American Red Cross capture suitcase, khaki shirt, boots for me, as I was still barefoot, and a greatcoat. The case was a great joy; it contained soap, towel, razor, blades, vitamin pills, toothbrush and powder, cascara pills, housewife comb, toilet paper and 40 cigarettes. We had a hot shower, then to a dining hut and had a good meal from Red Cross parcels. I made a new friend, an Aussie called Michael J Nolan. (It was a deep friendship that helped us both through the next year. Sadly we never kept in touch after the liberation.)

Note: the photograph that was taken is that which is on the Blue Dulaghuf identification card. The second white personnel card was taken on arrival at the second camp at Bankau, 5th August.