Pte. Ernest Arthur Elvin
British Army No.8 CRU Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
My father, Ernie Elvin, was captured at Dunkirk and eventually found himself in Stalag XXB - after a terrible journey, mostly on foot. He spent 5 years in this camp being employed in a brickyard, a saw mill and a farm. He kept a small diary which he managed to bring home with him, and from that and the letters to my mother, my brother has produced a small booklet of his experiences. He never talked of them, but the experience never left him, as I recall he was always prone to make the most of every meal – licking his fingers after eating a cake to get all the crumbs up.
However, he speaks of times when he was able to be useful – as one of the older men, he became a ‘leader’ for the younger ones, and involved himself in the concert parties – being used to playing instruments and reading music. He speaks of the fun enjoyed at setting up the stage and the non stop variety concert, which was enjoyed by all. He also recalled the hardships of little food and how the Red Cross parcels kept them going. He spoke of Peter Lister, who was with him for part of his time in Stalag XXB.
The last letter home was written in November 44. From then on he was on the long march. Terrible suffering, frost bite and starving hungry. Falling out for a day or so to hide in a barn – being cared for by a kind farming family. Later joining the column again. Eventually he records: "14th April 1945 10am. The wonderful news – we are free. Thank God. 3pm meet the American column at Wittinghen and sleep in a house! Next day breakfast on raw eggs – thousands of them! From here it is homeward bound."
Should anyone remember my father, or have heard of any reference to him, I would love to hear from you.
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