“One day, one of the guards we’d dubbed ‘South American Joe’ warned us of what conditions in the camp would be like in a few weeks time, when winter set in. He spoke of deep snow and freezing cold. It so happened, though, that he knew of a special working party being formed which would be ideal for those unaccustomed to manual work. More appropriate, in fact, for sedentary types and, if we were interested, he would include our names.
A few days later, after discussing the matter with an undertaker, two dry cleaners, two solicitors and an estate agent, we volunteered. As a ship’s baker, I considered myself an automatic choice to be in charge of the cook-house. So this mixed bunch of seventy, embracing a wide variety of trades and professions on paper (but not a genuine one among them!) marched to the station and climbed into the now-familiar cattle trucks, full of anticipation and eagerness – and delighted to have left the forbidding stalag behind us. After several hours, we reached our destination in the dark. The name of the station was Neurode. A march of about an hour brought us to our billet. When we awoke the next day, we found ourselves in the grounds of a coalmine. I was to be a pit pony!”