WW II, a British focus  



memories of Pte Tom Barker
1st Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Tom Barker passed on October 1st 2008poppy.gif - 1571 Bytes


Some of our lads were playing football with a bundle of rags wrapped up and tied with string, and another bunch of lads were watching and cheering, then for no reason, the bloke who had the bundle of rags stopped, picked up the bundle, to calls of "hands" and "you can't do that". But ignoring these calls our mate put his hand over his eyes to shade them and looked intently into the blue sky. Soon, everyone was straining their necks to see what he was looking at or trying to see. There were cries of "wor is it Wolly, wot yu' lookin' at?".

And way up in the blue we could see a very faint silver line being traced across the sky, ever so slowly. So slowly that I mentally compared it to the minute hand on a clock. Soon, as if watching a negative being washed in photographic solutions another began to become visible, but so faint, and now everyone was still and quiet as if pondering what it was we were observing. We had been for the most part silently craning our necks to watch this misty picture of silver lines slowly moving across the very light blue sky over Stalag 4B Muhlberg, between Leipzig and Dresdon near the Elbe river.

To me it looked like an invisible gardener was up there with a rake that had four tines and he was raking upside down on a bright blue lawn and white fluffy down was now beginning to show through. We could now make out about sixteen trails in bunches of four and they crept across the sky keeping the same pattern, and it seems ages as they began to get further away in the direction of Leipzig. The game was abandoned and some of the blokes were going indoors as the vapuor trails began to be too hard to follow now they were getting so far away, but then one bloke shouted "look they are dropping bombs. I looked and, although we could not see aircraft we could see tiny black dots dropping lazily through the air, and then they too would disappear and I noticed some of the RAF blokes were counting on their fingers and look at each other, then a shuddering noise and heavy thudding in the far, far distance as if a giant was jumping up and down in the next field. A voice whispered "I wouldn't want to be under that lot" and another soberly "Leipzig's gettin' pasted."

That evening in the barracks the head bloke said "you people must watch you don't put a foot wrong for the next two or three days, Leipzig got a pounding today so don't go thinking you can taunt the Jerry and get away with it, you could be courting disaster.

Not too many blokes ventured out the next day, little snippets of conversation suggested that maybe a guard in the tower could have lost someone in that raid over Leipzig and could be a bit trigger happy. But the day after that one bloke came in and said a Ferret had told him some of the planes had been brought down and the crew having safely got down by parachute were grabbed by enraged civilians and thrown into the flames their bombs had caused. At first we did not take this too seriously, but when we heard it from one of the Guards and then from a different Ferret we began to think it was true. Tom Barker 1997

2982252 Pte Barker T.O. 1st Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, Born 23 May 1921.
Tom Barker