Private Stan Blay, 2/6th and 2/7th Battalions, the Queen's Royal Regiment, recalls the end of his captivity in Silesia.
Stan Blay
Private Stan Blay

Anyway we eventually got up into Stalag 8C which was right up in Upper Silesia and it was not very far down the road from Stalag Luft 3 of the Wooden Horse fame you know. Anyway we had done a misdemeanour, can’t remember quite what it was now but they said alright well as punishment you can go and unload the coal truck. Boxing Day, so instead of doing nothing we were put to work at this brick works. Anyway the coal was for obviously the kilns you see. Anyway, we undone this wagon and we had to shovel it out into these little bogey trucks and take it over right down the end there and tip it over into like a big bunker. Well this bunker eventually got full so we decided we are not going to take it right down there so the Jerry did say they would tip the truck up, and shook it we could still got some out of it. Well it got like that when we tipped the truck over no coal came out at all so we shook it and I don’t know, sod’s law could you call it, instead of the coal coming out the bogeys came up off the line and I happen to have my finger on the catch and so of course when it laid down on its side it snipped the top of my finger off. So I went and told the old Jerry and there was nothing broken just taken the nail and all off. Anyway they tied it up - we were using better stuff than that as toilet paper. Anyway they had done it up and he said to me “ah noch mehr arbeit” no more work for me today. Well that suit me fine you know. Anyway after a while several days myself and some other chaps who were sick they took us back to the main Stalag at Sagan that was Stalag 8C. Well while at Stalag 8C we got word that the Russians were coming forward rather quickly in that area. So we thought, oh well, that is fair enough, well and we were sitting there, went there, there was a French surgeon took the top off because it was still there the nail and all, the French surgeon was there and they put me in the ‘kranken barrack’ which was the sick bay sort of thing and while we were in there, and we woke up one morning and a chap said "here look out of the window" and we looked out of the window and there were all these RAF men walking down the road you know. They because they had got word that Jerry had fallen back and Joe [The Russians] was coming forward and they marched Stalag 3 out had come past our camp. Well we were still in that camp when a couple of days afterwards a bloke came flying in and he said "'Joe' [The Russians] is here" so everybody got out you know, we had been told, you know, to stay in the sick bay otherwise if Jerry saw you walking about they would take you back with them you know. So we got over that alright and away we went down to the Red Cross stores. The Senior NCO said they had abandoned the Red Cross store so we go down and get what we can so they got a big farm cart, all these blokes pulling this cart loaded up with Red Cross stores there, and they bought it into the camp. Well it was distributed in a proper manner under the supervision of, I don’t know who was the Senior British prisoner there was, and then we eventually we decided it was bedtime so we got out you know. But there were hundreds of blokes of different nationalities there and they had torn the wire out at the bottom there but I don’t know why it was big enough for one man to crawl through at a time. People getting down on all fours going out, getting out the other side … I am out, you know. Well it came my time and I don’t know, I was pushed through the hole in the wire and I got out the other side and there was a chap there in British Army colours, he had a beard like Father Christmas and I thought I don’t know, I know those eyes, that chap I met on Liverpool Street Station.