Flight Lieutentant Basil B. Jackson DFC
I am writing this with frost bitten fingers, in a French prison camp, six kilometers from the town of Muskau, Silesia.
Three days ago, back in Sagan, the popular belief was that the great Russian push now in progress, would soon ovvertake us and we, at least some of us would be free.
Spirits were extremely high, as rumour had it that "they" were only a few kilos away, and that the Germans were about to evacuate. But at half past nine, our hopes were shattered with the startling news that we were to be ready to march in an hours time. Some of us believed it, others just laughed and said, "just another joke".
Five minutes at tenwards, Stalag Luft III was a behive of activity.
To any outsider we would have looked more like mad-men. Perhaps we all are.
At one o'clock we were off.
How could they possibly guard ten thousand Kmegies?
The night was extreemly cold, but tenseness and anxiety kept us warm.
We walked 16 kilos the first push, dragging our sled with personal items.
Our first break was in a town, where we bartered cigaretts for hot water. Then on to another town wehre we had a three hour rest and a promise of food and billets for the night.
The food consisted of brew and bread, but as for the lodging, well that was scrubbed.
The town had a population of about 5,000, so figure the flap that developed. It was the oddest thing that had happened to me for quite sometime.
10,00 Anglo, Amerikan tennofliegens, running around a German town, with the Russians 100 kilometers behind, as though we owned it.
It was very cold and the wind and snow cut into our very marrow. Our feet were wet and swollen, and all our muscles were stiff and bruised.
Many chaps had dropped out. God knows what happened to them.
(c)2008 Basil G. Jackson/Walt Hardester