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Herbert Heinemann

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The wartime memories of Herbeit Heinemann

HOSTEL STONE CROSS

As far as I can remember [the camp] consisted of one or two huts on top of soft rise at the outskirts of Northallerton, a lovely little town. The scenery in this particular area is delightful. We were put to work on local farms. Sometimes we went out at night for a walk in the town window shopping. That is about all I can remember [about my time stationed] there [from] 6.1.1948 until 19.1.1948.

THIRKLEYBY - THIRSK 108
19th – 21st Jan 1948

Transit camp [waiting] to go to [join the] transport [to] South[ern] England.

STANDBURY HOUSE CAMP
SPENCER WOOD HOSTEL
STANLAKE PARK, TWYFORD

The final two remaining Nissen huts at Standbury House Camp, Spencer Wood, 1964

On arrival we were divided into various groups and placed in the Niss-huts. Next day we were ready for work. According to the time sheet I was preferred to be useful in the chocolate and biscuit factory ‘Huntley & Palmers’ in Reading. A piece of stroke [of luck] for me in every way. Listening to the radio broadcasting “Music while you work” every morning with predominant lovely evergreens I was fond of. I knew nearly all [of those songs] and never forgot [them, even] up till now. I keep a certain amount of those records in my English archives.

I was placed [next] to a conveyor belt occupied with 5 or 6 young ladies controlling the quality of the biscuits from the oven. The broken ones I picked out [and I got] to eat most [of the ones] that are broken. I put on weight in shortest time, no wonder, you can say that again. Those young ladies were very kind to me and we had a lot of fun, singing along to the music and doing our job properly day-to-day.

[The] Topic of the day [was that] King George will be passing the factory in the early afternoon. Everyone was in a sort of panic, so was I!! I had never seen a King before in my life. We had to leave the factory building waiting for him at both sides of the street in front of the factory. First of all guards on motor-cycles went on ahead - I think it should have been 5 to 7 policemen. Next [came] the King sitting in the rear compartment of a large limousine, a Rolls Royce I think, smiling and greeting the people standing there and we were shouting with joy. No doubt [that this was] a special event for me. In a split of minutes it was over. We occupied our places [back inside the factory] to continue our work.

At night and on Sunday I used my spare time taking a bus to visit the town Reading to while away the time.

Whilst my stay in camp Stanlake Park I did not miss [the opportunity] to visit Maidenmead, a pearl of a town, walking along the River Thames, watching the boats on the river passing by. A visit of the town in order to go sightseeing took all my attention. Back in camp again [we were] playing cards to kill the time, listening the wireless, writing letters, reading our own camp paper called "Lagerpost" I think, [with the] changing news from Germany. Some were busy making toys for children , some were producing work of a high standard, on the other hand some [of us just] squatted on the edge of the bed or lay in bunks. There was not a single moment of real peace because one was surrounded by games of cards, discussions and other noises. Always the same faces. Least but not last [we must] not forget [that] the question of repatriation was under discussion.

Of course nearly everyone was looking forward to going back home after that long time. And that moment appeared in fast steps. At the 16th of April I was told my repatriation was about to happen. Seabag control had to be taken place at the 23rd, return of the identity card [on] the 28th and transport to the releasing camp in Leicester at the 30th. Put to sea in Harwich at the 5th of May, arriving Műnsterlager the 6th and finally at home again at the 8th of May 1948 24 o’clock, when my parents took me in their arms.

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