On April 22"d, 1945 the Russians overtook the camp in the biggest tanks I had ever seen, most crewed by women - they were tough babes! Each tank had a load of captured ammunition and arms on the floor and how they didn't explode I don't know. One Russian Captain - a man, gave us great amusement by finding an abandoned bicycle and trying to learn how to ride it.
At least when the Russians arrived the local Germans were ordered to give us water and meat. The burgomeister, in fear of death, rounded up cattle, which allied prisoners then butchered. The water supply was soon restored, no doubt under fear of death also.
On May 19th a US Jeep arrived and a Captain told us that if we walked west about 5 miles, we would meet a US army convoy waiting to see how many of us it could take south with it. By this time, Berlin was being bombed both day and night. The bombing of Berlin was so bad that we could read our newspapers at night by the light of the fires 30 kilometres away! I had also met Basil, my bomb aimer and Ken, my navigator and I convinced them to come with Ted an me that night, away from the Russians. The rumour was that the Russians planned to repatriate us via Odessa. The American option seemed too good to pass up. For one thing you could at least talk to the Americans - you try talking to a Russian!
That night we left under the wire and the Russians shot at us from the guard towers. We thought that they may be just trying to scare us but I can never be sure about that. None of our little party was hit and we ran as soon as we cleared the barbed wire. We walked all night through fields heading west, until we found a road with US trucks. We had passed more Russians in the night, but simply held up our hands in the Russian greeting and said "Tovarich" and they let us pass. To keep walking westwards in the dark was difficult but our direction was helped by the fires of Berlin to the north.
When we met the Americans it was a column of black men. They seemed to be expecting us and asked if we were thirsty. When we said "yes", they tipped back carboys from the back of a truck into our open mouths. The carboys were full of pure wood alcohol - not what we were expecting. But as a result of this we became aware that many of these soldiers seemed drunk! They were a happy bunch and the driver of out truck let one of drive. He was beyond doing it! We hitched a ride on the truck for a day and we arrived in a town called Shonebeck, on the river Elbe. Here we were housed in a Junkers tank factory. The Americans there had all kinds of canned food, but were very ticked off that their bread truck had not yet arrived. The "movie" truck was there though! I saw that the Americans went to war with all kinds of luxuries that we were not used to! They had organisation down to a fine art in general.
Ted and I rode a bike with no tires across a bridge, which was the line of demarcation between the Russians and Americans. We tried to scrounge bread from a bakery. The woman said to us "keiner geld, keiner bror - (no money, no bread). I said - 'Morgen, Russika komt"- (morning, Russians come!) - she handed over some bread! I felt quite sorry for the poor woman, as it was clear her fear of the approaching Russians was very deep indeed.
Days later, we were taken to an airfield in huge trucks, where we were told that we would fly to Rheims, France. I was still with Ted, but had been separated from Basil and Ken. The first three planes took off and somehow crashed into each other, killing everyone on board. The three aircraft had a tight formation take off planned. One plane touched the leader and pushed it into the third apparently. All further take-offs were singles! This was very unsettling to say the least! However, we boarded and made it to Rheims. It was here that we were given white bread and so enjoyed it! Many days later, Ted decided to take off and tour around France a bit before going home. I later found out he had a ball, but I was anxious to get home to Vera.
Around the end of May I was taken by Lancaster aircraft to Dunsfold, Surrey and there met by the RAF. It was then that a very sad incident took place. One of the men got off the plane and he had been used to Sterlings, a plane you could walk under the propellers, as they were set so high. He did not realise the Lancaster propellers were much lower and through carelessness he simply walked into one and was killed as he left the plane. How very ironic that he had survived all he must have to be killed at home in such a manner.
After endless filling in of forms we were given train passes to go to our various homes and were told not to phone because of national security reasons. However, I did phone our neighbours who had a phone to let Vera know I was coming home.
I got off at Farnborough North station and walked up to the Nunn's family house called "Earlsfield". There, I met Vera, who took me into the garden where I admired Pop's magnificent roses. Vera pointed to a pram in a corner of the garden. I went over to it and commented on what a lovely new pram it was. Then I duly admired the little baby girl inside. Thinking that Vera was babysitting for a friend, I said "nice baby - whose is it?" Vera said "it is yours daddy!" So I had a baby girt of about four months, that I never even knew about and her name was Kristina, named after my own mother. I felt very lucky to be alive, very thankful, and very proud of Vera.