Early that evening we made ourselves a reasonable meal of what we could of the hard-tack and generally lounged about by our fire. Then we heard voices -
English voices. Listening harder we could hear the CO
and that dreadful American
woman. Evasion now came to the forefront of our minds in the growing darkness.
We saw a torch flashing about in the trees. It wouldn't be long before they saw our
fire. We had to move, and move quickly and silently. Fortunately they were making
more noise than us. We crept over to some glacial boulders not far away in the
gloom under some particularly dense pine trees. They spotted our fire. Now they
were looking for us. Rather than run, John and I curled up together among these
boulders and quickly scraped together pine needles to scatter over us as camouflage.
Our trackers wandered around for a bit and, finding no footprints in the snow
patches, split up to search the clearer areas. It was all of half an hour that they
searched, even coming as close as five yards from us and shining their torches at the
boulders. Our camouflage worked and we were not found. Eventually the voices
became more distant and we cautiously made our way back to our bivouac thinking
they may have destroyed it. We were lucky; everything was still there. By now it
was late so we settled down for a very comfortable night on our new mattress. It
rained again but our roof held and we stayed dry and warm.
During the night we heard other students arriving and setting up shelters in the dark and rain not far away. They had a miserable night. We met up in the morning
as more stragglers arrived. One chap had a call of nature when he was on deep
snow. During his bowel movement he found himself sinking deeper. Already
preoccupied, there was nothing he could do about it. By now blue and shivering in
his predicament, it was all he could do to clean himself up with more snow. Not a
happy experience, but one which he graphically described in unnecessary detail as a
warning to us all. Pine needles, he said, were not an option.
With the exercise over we returned to the Gasthaus for shaves and thorough strip-down washes out in the drizzle. Debriefing followed and advice was given.
John and I told of how close we were to being found and were given credit for our
initiative, but were criticised for not having dowsed our fire before we hid from the
There was an end of course party and, next morning, we packed and prepared for our journeys back to our respective camps.
En route back to Jever Dinger Bell
and I had time to spare in Munich, so we
visited the Hofbraühaus to see this enormous drinking hall, hear the singing, and
watch the barmaids in Bavarian costume serving countless steins of beer. The
atmosphere was convivial, with no obvious drunkenness. Everyone was seated at
long tables, up to ten or so down each side. Snacks and Schnapps were available to
order. A traditional Bavarian band provided music and when there was singing it
was usual for participants to sway from side to side in time to the music while
holding their steins aloft. We were reluctant to leave and had to catch a taxi to the
station as we had left it a little late to risk walking.
Our train left the Hauptbahnhof not long before midnight for our overnight journey. We had breakfast on the train and duly arrived at Sande. Transport met us
and took us back to Jever in time for a late lunch.
No sooner had we arrived than I was told to get myself ready for an early departure the following (Sunday) morning as I was to go to Wildenrath with other
Squadron pilots to learn to fly F86 Sabre
It was only with the utmost co-operation of Frau Pinnau, my shared
batwoman, that my kit was ready for this immediate change of occupation.
Although it hadn't affected me at all, while I was away the Squadron
had been detached to RAF Ahlhorn while the Jever runway was resurfaced.