socks for potatoes by quietpurplehaze

socks for potatoes

On the anniversary of VE Day 2020, a little story from my dad's diaries (and another entry for Mayhalf20)

On the long march away from the camps, the POWs took refuge in early May, 1945, in a tin mine at Zinnwald on the German-Czech border.

My dad, Bert Martin, recorded in his diary: 'It was pretty grim, the food situation...' His pal, Jimmy Gresham, obtained some civvies so they dressed up and sneaked out of the mine, hopefully to find something to eat, taking some socks for barter.

From Bert's diary:

"Our approach to each house was: 'We are Frenchmen and have walked many kilometres. Have you any bread or potatoes you could give us?'

"One old man who came to the door of a cottage told us he hadn't many potatoes and his wife was ill in bed. He fingered the socks we showed him very lovingly and admitted they were 'prima'. After a while we got nearly a stone of potatoes from him for the socks although he was reluctant to part with his precious potatoes."

Bert and Jimmy were apprehended getting back into the tin mine and, in the commotion, he quickly 'dumped' the potatoes on a fellow he knew well, to be enjoyed later.

"I was expecting to be sent for any day re the escapade in civvies but nothing came of it. On the morning of Monday 7 May 1945, we heard the faint rumble of guns which continued all day. We guessed it to be the Russians and by late afternoon we heard the rattle of small arms fire. About 8 p.m. the order was given to move at once. We knew the end was near then."

By daybreak on 8 May 1945, Bert and some pals were on the run, having left the column of prisoners, unnoticed, in the dead of night. They lived on their wits for almost 3 weeks. Bert arrived home to his wife and home in the village of Claydon in Suffolk on 25th May.

'Till We Meet Again: Gunner Bert Martin: 1941 to 1945'
Bert Martin & Hazel Spencer
Amazon: paperback/kindle

Goose pimple inducing memoir. Thank you
May 8th, 2020  
What an incredible story of bravery and daring. Fav
May 8th, 2020  
Fascinating story- so glad he kept account! I have your book and will need re-read it!
May 8th, 2020  
You can feel the pain of the bartering from both sides, yet both getting what they needed while giving up something they also needed. (I have to admit when I saw the photo, I wondered???)
May 8th, 2020  
How fascinating - thanks for sharing this from your dad's memories
May 8th, 2020  
Fun picture and great background story from your dad.
May 8th, 2020  
A great image to go with the excerpt from your Dad's diary.
May 8th, 2020  
The excerpt from your dad's diary puts todays troubles into perspective. I bet he would have liked the image too.
May 8th, 2020  
Thanks for sharing, Hazel.
May 8th, 2020  

Thanks Lee and yes, I think my dad would have been amused by all of this, especially to know those are my husband's socks!
May 8th, 2020  
What a great image and a wonderful story from your Dad. Thank you for sharing.
May 8th, 2020  
Great story for this remembrance day.
May 9th, 2020  
What a great story and fitting image Hazel, I have re-red your dads book and its still a moving account:)
May 9th, 2020  
Good story and good shot.
May 9th, 2020  
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