‘They had just discarded their uniforms - all set for England and home.’


While they were walking through the town the air raid warning was sounded. The Germans have a similar siren to our own. It was quite a familiar sound! But the effect is different.

Everyone began running to the shelter. Wardens whisked everyone off the streets, Kelleher and Campbell among them. They were glad of the chance to rest. Their feet were swollen: they hadn't had their shoes off since they left camp. But it was a short Alert unfortunately. And they had to resume their journey once more.

Another time they had to wait overnight for a train, so they went to the station air-raid shelter, which to their surprise was also a café.

They bought a beer - very poor beer it was too - put their heads on the café table and snatched a couple of hours' sleep.

By this time they were very hungry. They had eaten the little chocolate they'd brought with them and it was time for desperate measures. They went into a cake shop and ordered coffee and cakes and devoured them.

Then the time came to pay. They paid..."And your 'marken'?" said the woman.

They realised she meant coupons.

"Sorry," they said. "We haven't any. We're Dutch."

And that seemed to satisfy her!

Another time they saw some apples in a shop, but even apples needed points, so their mouths watered in vain.

In another train they managed to get for the first time a seat. There were plenty of civilians on this local train. Everyone seemed gloomy and preoccupied. There was no laughter, no chatter,

The people looked tired and grey-faced. Even on a cursory glance their clothes were of poor quality, although they were middle-class travellers. And there were some odd assortments of clothes: you just wear what you can get in Germany, it seems, and no one bothers.

On this train, the girl guard opened the door and asked for the tickets. "Heil Hitler," she said.

The two men looked quickly round the compartment to see what they should do. No one paid any attention. The girls salute went unheeded. It was the first and last time the two men heard a "Heil Hitler" while they were in Germany.


It took Kelleher eighteen months to be taken from Tobruk, where he was captured when his ship was sunk, to the camp in Germany, travelling via Sicilian and Italian transit camps.

It took Campbell over two years to reach the camp after he was captured by the Italians when he crashed in November 1941.

But it took the two men over three weeks to get from the camp to England and home!

[The Sunday Pictorial was launched by Rothermere in 1915 as a major photo-journal. Circulation reached 1,700,000 in 1941 with a series of articles by Winston Churchill. In 1963 the paper was relaunched as the Sunday Mirror.]

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