Peter Graham – War Diary

War Diary of PETER GRAHAM Gunner Royal Artillery #932039

1941: Location, Crete.
May 1: German dive-bombers pay daily visits, after the harbour and shipping. Heavy A.A. barrage.
May 2: Food is not plentiful. Plenty of bread only. Oranges.
May3: Paid 250 dr.
May 8: Still at D1.
May 9: A reformed C, D and HQ troop moved 8 am down near the bay. Collected 9 Italian guns and at night loaded them and us on petrol-barge in Suda Bay. Moved out 8 pm.
May 10: Loaded 3 am other end of island (Candia). Went with guns to a dispersal area short way round the bay. (Yorks and Lancs here).
May 11: Sent aerograph message home. Took our 5 100mm guns down to the beach and did a calibration shoot. Moved into position at night, covering the bay with O.P. in the town.
May12: Paid 500 dr. Troop strength now 64.
May13: Did a short registration shoot in morning. Full moon the last few nights. German bombers over at sundown and early mornings after the town and aerodrome (nearby us). Usually fly very low. We have a force of “Gladiators’ at the aerodrome. Germans came over 10 am low level machine-gunning in the teeth of heavy A.A.
May 15: On leave into town from 1 to 8 pm. Not much to see, food and cigs scare. Candia also goes by the name of Heraklion. English graves in churchyard all 1906-7. (?)
May 16: Paid 250 dr. More planes arrive at the aerodrome- big twin-engine fighters, look rather like a Blenheim bomber. Two Hurricanes also. Few bombs dropped am.
May 17: German “recee” planes over, but nothing else. Rumours of U.S. being in the war.
May 18: Registration shoot am. 36 rounds in our gun, 18 HE, 18 SHRAP.
May 20: German real “blitz” started 4 pm. Bombing and gunning for over 2 hours then troop carriers with parachutists. Those around us whipped out by dark, three troop planes shot down.
May 21: More bombing and supplies landed to the Germans over beyond aerodrome and those in the town itself. Same thing has taken place at Suda and no doubt elsewhere.
May 22: All our planes are gone from aerodrome and only A.A. fire to combat the daily blitz. No night-flying much.
May 23: Did a shoot am on a house used by Germans as machine gun and mortar nest. We destroyed it. Felt queer, with some sort of dysentery.
May 24: Felt a bit worse, so reported up to R.A.P. at night. Sent me to hospital near our old dispersal area. Full of German and our wounded.
May 25: In dock.
May 26: In dock. Bombing and supply dropping continues. They give the town a heavy “pasting”.
May 27: Moved with other patients to the other and main hospital, a big private house about 5 miles away. 3 of “234” in here.
May 28: Germans in control all round here. They hit hospital with mortar bombs in error and kill two or three.
May 29: We learn that our troops have evacuated the area and we are virtually prisoners. No more bombing but their air force always over patrolling.
May 30: All the German patients were moved out somewhere.
May 31: preparations made to move some of us out ( by plane?), but these fell through and we remain at Villa Ariadne. Food not too good. We hear no news of what is happening elsewhere on the island.

June 1: Whit Sunday.
June 2: Moved down to aerodrome am. Stayed there all day, but no planes for us. Slept the night on the aerodrome. Crete now in German hands.

June 3: Left by plane (German troop-carrier) in afternoon and landed at Piraeus airport. Took us to prisoner-of-war camp II near the hospital. About 500 there.
June 10: Still at same camp. Food scarce, but improving. Canteen going, fruit etc.
June 12: Wrote a letter home.
June 16: Germans take all our names for broadcasting.
June 17: Still at same camp. Food more plentiful now. No Dr though. 750 here now. Weather very hot.
June 23: 200 of the lads left the hospital.
June 25: Wrote letter home.


July 1: Still at P.O.W camp II.
July 5: Left R.O. 10 camp with 64 others and in Lorries and to Piraeus docks. Embarked on small fishing boat; Greek crew, with 4 German sailors and 6 guards. Left 5 pm. At fuelling depot till 9.30 then moved out to sea.
July 6: Sailing all night and till noon when we anchored off Kalkis. Got fresh rations from the town in afternoon and moved at 6 pm when swing- bridge opened.
July 7: About noon put back into port (Platania) ? on account of rough seas. Fresh rations from village, bread, apples and potatoes. Two Greek prisoners escaped at night.
July 8: Left this port a 5 pm. Sailing all night. Seas a bit rough, rolling the boat a lot.
July 9: Arrived Thessalonika 10 am. Several Italian boats and warships in harbour. Taken to transit prison camp in wagons. Saw Joe Kimberley here. And later at Stalag 8b in Feb 1942.
July 10: Moved in Lorries 8 am to another camp 3 miles outside the town. About 6,000 there all captured on Crete. Place very overcrowded.
July 11: Food very poor, practically starvation level. Red Cross brought bread in afternoon. One loaf between 6. Also olives.
July12: many rumours around (mostly about Russia) but no real news. NB: Food is proved to be actually 2% above starvation level by M.O.
July 13: Another Red Cross issue of bread and sausage. Flaming hot weather all this time.
July 15: On half rations all day due to somebody lighting fires contrary to camp rules.
July 17: A Red Cross issue of 1/6th loaf and 1 cigarette per man. “Prisoner of War” postcard to each man. Which I filled in and returned in hope!
July 20: Several attempts at escape are being made nightly, some successful, but a few shot in the act.
July 21: Bread, tomatoes, melons from Red Cross.
July 23: German camp commandant made a tour of inspection.
July 24: 1500 Cypriots left the camp with 6 days rations, destination unknown. At night the area is now covered by 6 machine guns and two searchlights.
July 27: Cheese issue with breakfast.
July 28: Red Cross again- bread, tomatoes and melons. P.T started at camp commandants orders.
July 29: Bread seems scarcer now – 9 to a loaf for breakfast.
July 30: Weather still very hot and seems to be “set fair”.

Aug 1: English and Australian troops separated and allocated different buildings in groups of units e.g. all R.A’s in E13.
Aug 4: Bank holiday in England.
Aug 5: Red Cross again- bread, cheese, tomatoes and melons. Not much bread.
Aug 6: Cheese with breakfast.
Aug 7: Groups 1-10 (1000 men) English left the camp in afternoon with rations for 5 days journey.
Aug 10: Australians left with similar rations. Heavy rainfall last night, first rain for a long time.
Aug 12: Left camp in a party of 1000 English 4 pm with rations for about a 4 day journey. Marched 3 miles to station, boarded train at rate of 35 men to each cattle truck. Left 9 pm.
Aug 13: Travelled all night and next day, but in fits and starts with long halts. Conditions very cramped and uncomfortable.
Aug 14: Travelled through Yugoslavia (Veles). Germans using all kinds of rolling stock – Bulgarian, Romanian, French, Dutch and Italian as well as their own.
Aug 15: Still in Serbia (Lapovo). Early this am got out of train at a siding to get tea, biscuit, lemon and smokes from the Serbian Red Cross. Very welcome as rations about finished. Stomach bad.
Aug 17: In Austria now (Salzburg). More rations from the Germans. Weather here is noticeably colder.
Aug 19: Journey finished 7 pm when we pulled in at a siding. Marched 2 miles to the camp. Down under canvas for the night until de-loused.
Aug 20: Hot shower and clothes de-loused am and housed in huts.
Aug 21: Got some clothes and all registered and given number (96090) This is Stalag 4b and camp run by French prisoners. Also Russians and Yugoslav prisoners here.
Aug 22: Food good. Mint tea morning and afternoon, 2 pints of a good veg stew at midday, bread 4 or 5 to a loaf with margarine and sausage, brawn or jam.
Aug 23: Weather very cold and wet for August. Everybody with colds after roasting in Salonika 9me included with a very heavy one).
Aug 24: All confined to huts for 7 days due to an outbreak of diptheria. Meals handed in through window.
Aug 25: Camp is located at Muhlberg/Elbe.
Aug 31: Still in hut, with no news about when the confinement is to end. Smokes very scarce nowadays.

Sept 3: Two years today since war broke out.
Sept 4: Weather better now, sunny and fairly warm. We are allowed in compound behind the huts for a short time each day.
Sept 7: Still in quarantine at end of another 7 days.
Sept 17: Went in hospital suffering from some sort of anaemia due to malnutrition. Getting about 4 different injections a day and running a high temp.

Oct 2: Received another parcel from Canadian Red Cross. Was moved with 4 others to French hospital outside Stalag. Better here, 8 of us together in one small ward.
Oct 4: Only one daily injection now which is for building up the strength.
Oct 9: Had blood tested. Result normal but deficient in red corpuscles, indicating anaemia.
Oct 11: Was x-rayed for the chest with favourable result.
Oct 13: Eating better now.
Oct 14: Getting a food parcel every week, English Red Cross now.
Oct 22: All English have left the camp (except those in hospital) for Kommandos. English M.O. still there, brings us parcels every week.
Oct 23: Sent a letter home.
Oct 27: rest of English sick moved up into this hospital from Stalag.
Oct 30: Wrote a letter home.
Oct 31: Talk of us being moved to a hospital in a Stalag purely for English. When, we don’t know.

Nov 1: Strength returning now. Can get up and walk around a bit.
Nov 4: Postcard home.
Nov 7: Moved down to the hospital in the Stalag (Rivier). About 20 English here – all the fit moved out of camp, the idea being to make it a camp for Russians and shift all the French and English to other Stalags.
Nov 10: Issue of 100 English cigs (Gold Flake and Turret).
Nov 11: Received Red Cross food parcel (Canadian).
Nov 19: Wrote home. Still at “Rivier”.
Nov 21: Moved out of hospital to join rest of English in camp for journey tomorrow. 100 cigs issue.
Nov 22: Moved at 8 am to station in wagon after all being searched and issued with a Canadian parcel. Party 100 strong travelled in two cattle trucks, left about midday.
Nov 23: Arrived at Lamsdorf station afternoon and in wagons to Stalag 8b nearby, a purely British camp of about 4,000 strength and centre for about another 16,000 on working parties.
Nov 24: Went in dock.

Dec 1: Discharged from hospital.
Dec 4: Camp activities at a standstill due to an outbreak of typhus fever.
Dec 5: Receiving English parcel every week in quarters Tues – Friday (not a very good system). Also cig issue of 40 per man.

Aug 5: Returned to 8b after 18 months at E384.
Aug 11: Arrived in Stalag from Italy, Collins, Evans, Hampton of 234. Battery taken prisoner Summer 1942 Tobruk, all to Italy. Gibson, Barnwell, Parker out of sub, killed.
Aug 27: Still in convalesce compound 8b having had all remaining teeth out.

Sept 3: Four years since war started!!

Oct 4: Started work in coffee kitchen in 8b.

Sept 3: Five years today! Stalag 344, ex 8b.

Jan 22: Evacuation from 344 started.
Jan 23: Half the camp (5000) men have gone. Remaining 4500 stop.

Feb 12: We are still at 344 in a state of siege. Another medical to see who is fit to move of the men left here.
Mar 3: Left 344 in cattle trucks and south to Prag via Mittlewalde.
Mar 9: Arrived Avesburg via Prag, Pilsen, Eger, Regensburg. Lousy journey, snowing all the way. F.A accommodation at Augsburg, but place in one hell of a mess with bombing. Finished up in a half completed building with a load of “civvies”. No water, no smokes, no F.A.
Mar 23: Left Augsburg for Stalag 7b at Memmingen.
Mar 29: Wrote card home, first for two months or so,
Mar 30: Still at 7b. Conditions bad, very crowded. Put our names down to go out farm party, but no results so far. Good Friday. Rain.

Apr 16: Into dock at 7b for observation (eye).
Apr 23: Troops advancing through? Towards us, near the end I think.
Apr 25: Out of dock. Just in time. See tomorrow!
Apr 26: Memmingen relieved by the 7th American Army, 10th Armoured Corps, 7th Infantry Division. Tanks and armoured cars.

May 1: Munich now in our hands and 7a released, also Dachau. Death of Adolf Hitler announced on German radio.

May 2: Still at 7b awaiting good weather for air lift to England.
May 7: Flew with rest of lads on U.S C47’s from Memmingen airfield. Two hr trip to Rheims and big transit camp nearby. Saw Nick and some more of rearguard from Lamsdorf.

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