I’m a regular user of Facebook and belong to a wonderful group that exists to remember the Short Stirling bomber… the first of the heavy bombers used in the war. In the group one of the chaps, Glenn Haybittle, posted a rather sad notice…
“Favourite quotes from the letters of wives/girlfriends sent to POWs in Stalag Luft III:
“Try and get to Dresden and have a look at the picture gallery. The blue Madonna is worth seeing.”
“I’m glad you were shot down before flying became dangerous.”
“I’ve married your brother, so I’ll still be in the family.”
“Do you attend lectures for your Bachelor of Science degree at a German university?”
“I’m having a baby, don’t worry I’m being paid 10/6 a week and the American Corporal is sending you some cigarettes.” ”
I was astounded that the senders had so little idea of their boys’ circumstances or were so crass about giving bad news!
These letters, or extracts, were posted onto the board near to the ‘foodaco’ or ‘food account’. This was ‘the bartering system in the camps – where they kept all the supplies and traded them’… so folk clearly used their extra food to barter for favours from the German guards and I expect that some of the supplies for the escape attempts were acquired this way.
No doubt if I’m wrong on this… someone will put me right! However, dad didn’t mention it in his book so it was new to me when Glenn posted his message. Although maybe it was something that was used by the US servicemen rather than the RAF men…. either way I’m so glad he did because I’ve learned more about life in the camp… another aspect of the way in which the men coped with their existence and the bad news or lack of understanding from home!