The Buckley Society Logo

Two prisoner of war groups "

Mentschikal, Poland


see 7.239 for Eric Hayes' memoir, "About me in a Nutshell", which describes his experiences as a prisoner of war in Poland.


This was a short-term and unpleasant work party and I was glad to be sent back to the prisoner of war camp!


Below is a verse I wrote concerning my experiences as a prisoner of war.






With Apologies to the writer of

Stanley Holloway's "Sam" Monologues.


Started 1941, finished 1983



Gefangener = Prisoner of war. Stalag = Main PoW Camp.

St. Vith = Transit camp, Belgian/German border . Thorn = Town in Poland (now called Torun)

Arbeit = Work. Lager = Camp.

Bruss = Small Polish town. "Ne poussez pas" = French, stop pushing.




Owd Sam wer took Gefangener

In May one-nine-four-0.

T'were after t'battle of Ottenbourg

Where t'Royal Welch put up t'show.

We'd been in France for weeks and weeks -

Nowt ever seemed to 'appen,

Till Hitler marched through Belgium,

So we thought we'd better stop 'em.

The lads fought well,

Then ran like 'ell

Toward Dunkirk and Calais;

Bosch followed 'em in tanks, and so

They didn't dilly-dally.

In t'end they caught 'em up, tha knows,

And put 'em in a bunch,

Pinched all their clobber bar their clothes,

Forgot to give 'em lunch.

They marched for days - ba gum, t'were warm -

Until they reached St. Vith.

They gave 'em there a bit o' break,

Just time to get their breath.

Owd Sam were right in t'midst of things.

Feeling browned off and tired.

But t'interpreter said "Sam, you come here!

This fence must be re-wired"

For this Sam got some extra bead

And ba gum he enjoyed it.

When t'grub were up, t'Froggies pushed,

Still, 't couldn't be avoided.

"Ne poussez pas!" - "Oh go to hell"

Were common words among 'em.

So Sam pushed too - to no avail,

But in the end he stung 'em.

T'were on the day they 'ad to move

That owd Sam pulled 'is fast 'un.

He got on t'truck - the Frogs on foot,

He couldn't help but pass 'em.

Sam got to t'station pretty quick,

The Froggies all took longer;

He got in first wi' t'bread and soup,

O'course that made 'im stronger.

They were in t'train three days and nights,

t'time were long and sad -

No smokes, no grub, no water, till

They dam' near all went mad.

At last they came to Poland,

To a biggish place called Thorn.

They marched 'em right up through the town -

T'were very nearly dawn,

Sam got a few hours peaceful sleep

Then up again at seven.

He still felt bad enough, but this

Was t'other side of heaven.

Next day they gave Sam bread to eat,

For dinner Stalag Soup,

And not being used to so much meat

His stummock looped the loop.

They kept Sam there for just six weeks

At Stalag XXA,

Then off to arbeit Sam were sent -

That were a lucky day!

T'new Lager were a schoolroom,

Sam slept quite near to t'door.

They had straw beds to lie on -

T'were better than the floor.

T'grub were also better -

They had a bit more stew,

They got some nice new blankets,

And "later, new suits too.

They went out digging ditches

In t'middle of a field.

In t'end a brand new drainage sump

Their energies did yield

They went on then with pipe-laying.

T'were hard work all the way

Opening up t'streets of t'town-

They finished it one day.

The day that Red Cross Parcels came

Were one of right high glee.

Sam 'ad some beans int' midday soup

And sausages for tea.

New Year in Bruss brought snow and ice

And t'ground were frozen 'ard,

So Sam and Co. just stayed indoors

And read, played darts, and cards.

We leave Sam now (pro tem tha knows)

Still in his hibernation.

He's thinking now of going home,

Pride of the British Nation!

He'll soon be going out again -

Sam doesn't relish work,

But same as all good Englishmen,

He's not the type to shirk.

All that were wrote in 'forty one,

A long time's passed since then,

And Sam is back in Blighty

As I now take up the pen.

The war dragged on for four more years

But owd Sam took no 'arm

When t'pipes were done, he had a move,

And went out to a farm.

Jerry tried 'ard to get 'em down

With tales of devastation

Caused by air-raids and V-bombs

On all the British Nation.

But owd Sam knew it wasn't true,

He knew the tide was turning,

And it wasn't long 'fore news came through

That all Berlin was burning.

It were t'beginning of the end

When Sam were marched from Poland

Into the Third and Greater Reich

That crumbled into "No-Land".

They 'ad no grub when out on t'road,

And poor owd Sam took ill

And 'ad to go to 'Ospital

To try and get back well.

His fingers all were frozen

And lost their circulation.

They tried to bring 'em back -

In t'end, t'were amputation.

However, shortly after that

Owd Sam got liberated

And home to England he were flown -

Ba gum, were he excited!

It's grand to be back home again,

To do just what you like,

To get good food and have a drink,

To walk, and dance, and bike.

Before we close, there's just one thing

Which mustn't be omitted -

A hearty vote of thanks to those

Whose energies were pitted

To helping us keep up our chins -

Red Cross, Associations

Run bv parents, sisters, wives.

Sweetheart and relations.

So "Thank you one and all" says Sam

His pals join in the chorus -

"Long live the King. His subjects too,

The whole world lies before us'


Author: Hayes, John Eric, 1918


Year = 1941

Building = Military

Event = Historic

Gender = Male

People = Group

Extra = Formal Portrait

Extra = WW2

Extra = 1940s

Copyright © 2015 The Buckley Society