On Jan. 28th, 1945 carne the great day when we were herded out to leave the camp. The guards walked out with us to move us away from the advancing Russians. We were near the Polish boarder and were being moved west. We walked for many days being guarded by old Germans now, as the young guards had been called to the front. Some of these elderly guards became so tired that they made prisoners carry their unloaded guns as they were just too heavy for them. We were glad to help these old men and they were grateful. Each day we trudged through deep snow aft day long.
Some people fashioned "sleds" to carry things on. We were sleeping in barns or wherever we could find shelter from the snow and cold. Once we slept in a deserted glass factory. We passed through German towns where the women took pity on us and gave us food as we trudged by. One night we were almost comfortable burrowing into straw in a barn. The exodus from Stalag Luft 111 numbered ten thousand allied airmen, split into several divisions.
Finally, we came to a place called Chemnitz, where we boarded trains again. Just before boarding the train I was having a pee in the train station toilet when I was pushed up against the wall. When I turned around ready to fight my assailant I was faced with Ted Haddach, a friend I had last seen in Albany, Georgia in 1941 at Oarr Aero Tech, when we were being trained by the US Army Air Corps. Surprisingly, we each thought the other was dead! I was later to be best man at Ted's wedding. So we became companions, for a journey that I shall never forget, made bearable by having an "old friend" with me. We were still both in our early twenties.
We went some distance by train and then it was back to walking again for many days. Eventually, we arrived at a camp called Luckenwalder, about 30 kilometres south of Berlin. I just remember arriving and getting into a corner and falling asleep standing up.
Accommodations were better than expected but not as good as Stalag Luft 111. We did our own cooking on Klim stoves (made from milk cans) in a room off the barracks. Here we were guarded by Hitler Jungen, some of whom were mere boys with guns!