Private Eric Reeves, 1/5th Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment, remembers his capture in 1940 by a courteous SS officer.
Eric Reeves
Private Eric Reeves

Went around a bend in the road. Still flat, well just a slight bank one side, and clover field the other. A roadblock and a frightfully English voice said "Ah, gentlemen of the Queen’s, we have been waiting for you", and old Moxon, always being a lance corporal, we were in the first three. Old Moxon said "That is a bit of luck, it is our blokes so there cannot be any Jerries around". So this voice said "Stay where you are gentlemen and do nothing foolish". Old Moxon said "Just a minute, who are you? What regiment?" He said "I am going to climb onto this haywain. Do nothing foolish, Colour Sergeant", and he was Oxford English. "I invite your gentlemen to put their weapons on the ground". Old Moxon, he was a brave lad, said "No!" He was "No, there are more of us than there are of you, mate". This German he got up on this haywain with the old green leather coat right down and his coal skuttle helmet with the SS and a Spandau with a fish tail on it. I can see all this you know. He said "I am going to fire a short burst into the air and you will see I am not alone. We don’t want any more bloodshed". A haystack fell down there and a bit of scenery fell down there and 2 tanks came out. One each side of the roadblock, just a bit off the road. They didn’t have these whacking great guns like these Gladiators have, they had a little two pounder quickfiring gun. Old Moxon said "Righto, lads". So they opened the roadblock, we still had our rifles slung, they opened the roadblock and we went through and they put us in this clover field in a half circle and he said, "Sit down. Now we will attend to your wounded" because we had a lot of blokes with superficial wounds and stuff with us, and they did. This was the SS and they bandaged these guys up. He said "You have had no rations except for hard tack biscuits and marmalade, not even any butter have you?" We had not. He said "I am sending some people into the village to get some bread" and he gave us bread and jam but while all this was going on we were all in a semicircle and there was one little guy about my height [5ft 2] with his black tank suit on and the old flashes on the collar and his coal skuttle helmet and they had a big beret went over the top of it and he had a Spandau under his arm. He looked around at us and went [signalled an upward motion with his arm, and imitated firing weapon]. Voice at the back, "He wants us to stand up and he is going to shoot us, one at a time". I was scared enough then. I thought I am going to die now, and then some other bloke said "Don’t be daft, what he is saying is, if you stand up I am going to shoot you". So heart stopped beating. So that is how we got captured and as I say these guys who had obviously followed us, my section did not, but our company fired at them and the 2/7th fired at them, had bandaged us up and gave us something to eat and that was that. But on the second day when the B Echelon German troops were coming down, they kicked us all the way up to Trier. They walked us from the 21st May until the 11th June, 21 days, and they marched us from Abbeville up to Trier in Germany. That was rough. We did not get any rations. They had a, what I worked out, a psychological warfare, these old Germans. There were about, in this column there were about 5,000 British and about 15,000 French and I mean you were all over the place and the first stop we had, we always slept in the fields, and the first stop we had they said "Right, all the Englanders over there and all the French here", the French would be served first. And they had these horse-drawn field kitchens which were just a copper full of soup and stuff and the old Froggies would go forward and of course a lot of them had been home and got attaché cases and all their gear. Oh yes, they had new boots hanging around their neck and we were in battle order, I mean we had no, we just dumped all our stuff and went into battle, as it were, in battle order. They had saucepans and stuff, and they went and got their soup. Now it was getting dark and we were not allowed to sit down that first night. We had to stand up and these old guys were around with their, they didn’t have Tommy guns, but they had Spandaus and rifles, and they were around there making sure you stood up. After 2 or 3 hours they were feeding these Froggies. Right, Englanders' turn, they slammed the lids down and said "It was all gone". So what happened after 2 or 3 times, the poor old Froggies had a rough time. The most French I ever heard was "Poussez pas! Poussez pas!" - "Don’t push! Don't push!" Cause our blokes were jostling because if they couldn’t have it they were spilling it. So the Froggies still hate us, I think, and we don’t like them very much. Well that was it and we got to Trier and we slept in a coalyard and then in the morning they put us in cattle trucks and we were in a bad way then because all the way up the only food we could get to help ourselves was these old manglewurzel clams and you would nip out and you weren’t with your own people. I wasn’t with anybody from the Queen’s. We were all over the place and so you joined the group and they would say to me "It is your turn, Titch". When we got to one and I had run 30 or 40 yards to a clam, load myself up with these old manglewurzels, still covered in muck, getting around behind it, nipping back, and we were eating these, just scraping the mud off. So consequently I was very lucky. Most of the guys got diarrhoea, dysentery, things like that. Then they slung us in these cattle trucks, possibly 60 or 70, so when you got in first off you sat with your knees up and if you stood up you had a job to sit down again because everybody moved. Now there was no food, no water, no sanitation at all and we got in there on the 21st May and then 3 days and 2 nights later we finished up in the north of Poland and once they opened the doors in those 3 days. Brought in a bucket of water and 3 loaves of bread in. Well if you were, as I was, up against the back wall being one of the first in, you could not get to get any of it. It was all torn apart. No disgrace, these blokes were starving, we all were.