Information for Veterans and their families

Thomas Ryan

Paul is looking for information about his grandfather's experiences during WWII.

Paul says: "My mum has discovered a diary written by her dad during his march from a prisoner of war camp in early 1945. We are trying to make sense of it, but aren't really sure which camp he was in. On the back of a photograph it refers to Stalag XXA, which I understand was in Poland. Most of the places mentioned in the diary are in Southern Germany, the Austrian border or Czechoslovakia. We remember being told once that he was in a camp at Lansdorf, or Lamsdorf. The whole thing is made difficult by the fact that he didn't talk about his experiences at all after the war and he died in the 1980s."

Paul has provided details of his grandfather's diary entries here.

Saturday night awakened by heavy artillery in the distance
Sunday playing cards
Could not get interested
Guns nearer bet on liberation
Monday guns shaking the camp light guns coming in close
Hear what is believed to be a tank battle
Russian aircraft spotter at work everybody even the Germans think we can’t get out it is now 2pm

And we have been issued with half a Red Cross parcel a man 4½ lbs of bread
The orders are when the bugler sound Tipperary fall in at the double. We have got a white ensign and it looks as though it will get used
Bugle gone
6’o’clock it is extremely cold 30º below freezing point

A Jewish column in front of us
We passed about twenty in one night
Dead, shot and battered to death
Every day is the same now we pass dead Jews every day
No food now

There is a Jewish column in front of us. A pitiful sight
We passed twenty two in one night
Dead! Shot and battered some just living but they will be frozen in no time. They are all in regulation uniform
Blue and white pyjamas they would not keep

A furnace man warm
I am fairly well clothed but I got a pinch of frost bite in my toes.
Just at present we have perhaps a thousand men in our column
B.A.B 20 But only a small percent will get through for we have no food & the planes

Are strafing continuous (?)
Several run away and hide hoping to be picked up by Russians.
Personally I want to get a bit further & run into the Americans or our own troops for that is the way I surmise it will finish if we manage to keep alive.

There is severe bombing not so far of (sic). But that is a common occurrence now
We are heading for the Cheho Slovakian Protectorate
The guards are excited for they know we shall at least get some food. And we certainly did
Everyone lined the streets and threw food of all description
Cigs & luxuries the Germans had never seen i.e. milk chocolate eggs tomatoes and cooked foods

We are staying the night in barns as usual
But what a champ (?) the farmers who naturally detest Jerry are very kind to us
Fresh straw and several CWT of spuds

Our luck is in for we are resting up for a day or two in the next best place to home. The boys are so hungry they are stealing potatoes and asking the farmer for more food. It is understandable but I didn’t expect to see us come so low lucky our farmer understands and helps more than he really should he has to account for everything to Jerry periodically but he isn’t worried for.

He says Jerry is on his last legs, He is a tonic for everyone is nearly normal and share food and cigs. We have to move out tonight
Our M.D. (?) known to all as Taffy try to object because we have got to know that Lansdorf column was strafed at night & about one hundred killed probably some of our old mates who went back to Lansdorf.our H.Q.
Of no avail but promise of no more nights after this.

Several uneventful days nothing to write about
We are now marching on the Auto Bahn to get to Ramsenthal (?) a picture card village. We are here it seems until our boys come through for the Jerry are check mate nowhere to move

A Yank tank driver is brought I he seems quite certain we shall be free in no time at all. We have to go out work captured

At Nurembourg yesterday
We walk to Bayreuth every day working on station
Dog fights over Ramsenthal
Bombing around
Fortnight with no mishap and then we all get caught

Working in Bayreuth
Carpet bombing
Five of us run into the waves of bombers the bombs around like express trains coming down. We can’t do anything to help yet but it only lasts half hour

Except for fighter strafing and we go to see what can be done.
The place is a shambles & we are digging women kids guards and our own boys out for ten hours.
Our M.D. leading even though the bridge he was under got a

Direct hit from a stick.
Well we have two hundred to three hundred either dead or missing in that half hour or so & the planes are coming in again
The stomachs are turning somersaults

Again but over they go evidently they know they made a prefect job
But the Jerries are stubborn and we march again
But I don’t care
I have the feeling it won’t be for long

How right I was
After a day or two we arrive at B…..(?) and after a rest get going again after a few hours a dozen nasty looking fighters swoop over low. Taffy is there again

Shouting wave your shirts or anything
We did and after a salutation they move further up the road
Shoot couple of Jerry carts up and fly off still waving
Eventually we arrive

At Winklarn(?) for a day or so & one morning 23 April we hear the tanks rumbling
Jerry shouts and raves for us to march but we stay put for in a few minutes

The village was decked with white flags sheets and allsorts but not a soul to be seen
The guards either give us there arms or throw them down. So several of us

Wander up the road & there coming down the by pass was two Yanks one revolver but it was enough for we got cases of cigs chocs anything we

Wanted when the troops came in. Well our little gang commandeered a farmhouse spotless (?) & stocked with everything until we got transport to Nurembourg fifty a lorry almost like

Sardines but no one seemed to mind Nurembourg three days then Brussels by plane rough going so stayed until next day to fly home but I missed out along with a few hundred & came

By boat Ostend Tilbury

4748502 Hirst W
4744451 Rodgers W
4744903 L/C Wilkinson J
4741684 CPL Woolley J
4742642 PTE Airey J
4743865 Angel W
4748822 Ball F
4742838 Bowers E
4747327 Brearley

Mr J Pollitt
5 Long Grove

R.M. Smith
154 Wellington Rd

M.R. Byrne
31 Hillesdon House
E Bury Bridge Rd

W Murtagh
17 Blenheim Terrace
Woodhouse Lane
Leeds 2

F Harrop
28 Hollen Royd Ter

B Darby
21/7 Bright St

Signature of Marlene Dietrich
26 April 45

Places stopped at during the march of 1945

January   4   17 Bosen
22 Evening 6pm 5 Wechelsdorf 18  
23 Grunweide 6   19 Hubnerwasser
24   7   20 Gottdorf
25 Kranzdorf 8   21 Strausswitz
26 Ludwigsdorf 9   22 Grosspriesdon
27 Oberhansdorf 10 Albendorf 23 Hussig
28 Riechenstein 11   24 Graupen
29   12 Altenboch 25  
30 Rangersdorf 13 Slovakia 26 Ossegg
31   14 Radim 27 Hareth
February   15   28  
1   16 Spysova    
2 Hohlten        
3 Braunau        


1 Milsan 15  
2 Gresseln 16 Weissestadt
3 Langrunn 17 Gefrees
4   18 Ramsenthal
5 Rossmeisl 19  
6 Konigsberg April  
7   11 Bayreuth
8   14 Werkhof
9   15 Mantel
10 Zettendorf 16 Rothenstadt
11   18 Pilchau
12   19 Winklarn
13 Bavaria
14 Oberroslau    

23 Winklarn liberated
26 Nuremburg
29 Flew to Brussels
31 Ostende
1 Tilbury
3 Home

2 shirts (?)
2 pants
1 clogs
2 blankets
1 G.coat
1 pullover
1 gloves
1 towel

If you recognise anyone from this account, please could you email us via the Contact page to let me know of your experience or, indeed, if you remember Thomas or alternatively, please contact Paul directly.