Phew, I’ve just returned from a 10 day road trip in support of Longmarch 2013!
For those who don’t know what this is all about then here is a very brief introduction…
During the latter stages of World War 2, the Germans decided to march 1000’s of POW’s west in order to delay their liberation by the Allies.
In horrendous winter conditions the POW’s marched on with poor equipment and little food, many died along the way.
We retraced the steps of one particular march from Stalag Luft III to the old rail head in Spremburg, a rough total of 62 miles over 3 days.
As support party, we had to drive from the UK to Poland, support the march and then drive all the way back to the UK.
Leave Cosford in convoy. 1 7.5 ton truck full of kit, 1 mini-bus and 1 Ford Ranger 4×4.
No Ferry this year, we were using EuroTunnel, this is where we hit our first snags.
Firstly, the 4×4 was booked as a frequent traveller, nah sorry, don’t do this kinda thing everyday, oh, pay again for the crossing.
Minibus, “Excuse me Sir but did the top of your vehicle touch the height marker?” “Err yes, well, it just brushed it anyway”. Think we got away with that one as I don’t think that was booked under the right ticket either.
7.5 Tonner, Sir, your truck is over 7.5 meters! Oh bugger, get the credit card out for that one as well!
Finally, we got underway, the 4×4 and minibus went on one train and the truck ended up with the freight.
One thing of note, the freight club car as they like to call it didn’t half pen and ink. There was some serious BO going on in their and reminded me very much of a Turkish taxi, know what I mean?
Mmmm, I can relate to that!
Once the other side of the channel, we had to get to the old RAF Bruggen which was a short trek through France, Belgium, Holland and then Germany.
Luckily we had managed to secure some decent transit accommodation to kip in before the next days drive.
Woke up to lots of snow!
The waggons were all frozen so off to MT to try to thaw them out before getting on the road.
Took us a couple of hours to get them ready for the next leg.
Problem was that once we got on the road, the washes etc froze up again after about 10 minutes so it was a little pointless but heh, we tried our best.
So off we went heading out to the outskirts of Berlin for an overnight stay in the Ibis Hotel.
Got to the Ibis where we had a few beers and some food before spending a snore filled night.
Minibus wouldnt lock by the way, every time you turned the key the horn went off. Do this about 15 times and people were staring out of the hotel at us. This stored itself up for a mega rant later in the trip.
Berlin to Poland.
Managed to get a lie in as a couple of us were off to Tegal to collect some VIP’s.
The rest headed of to the Museum near Stalag Luft III to set up camp ready for the marchers arrival.
Saw Michael Madsen in the terminal, his hair looked really black and that’s what made him stick out!
Collected VIP’s and made our way to the museum.
Arrived, camp was already setup by this point so it was a case of ensuring that all the support stuff was ready for the start of the march the following morning.
Bed for the night was in a mock-up of one of the huts that the POW’s would have lived in during their capture.
Did have massive snore rage as well, we had a least three snore monsters in this room. One said he didn’t snore, he did! The other sounded like a wookie and the last one was a seasoned veteran. Managed to drag my bed to another room for a quiet but bloody cold kip.
First day of marching for the troops.
Got breakfast sorted for them and sent them on their way.
Headed by two veterans who started them off, we watched them disappear into the snow. We would see them again 20 odd miles later.
Time to pack the wagon and head to the first nights accommodation which was to be an old barn.
After a bit of driving we arrived at said barn and had a nose inside.
After working out that the yellow sign on the wall above the door read something along the lines of this building isn’t great and the scattering of human turds on the floor, we decided that it might not be a great place for the troops and us to spend the night. I had already made my mind up and no matter what I wasn’t gonna sleep in there, the back of the 7.5 tonner had my name all over it.
One point of note was the size of the turds, they were very small. Now it was either somebody with a small arsehole or the fact that they had been frozen, either way, it wasnt very nice and I wasnt gonna sleep in it. Oh yeah, and the fact that they had wiped their arse on a cheap magazine wasnt nice either.
After a few phone calls and a alot of buggering about, we managed to secure some type of community center for the night, at least there wasn’t shit on the floor and it had a couple of toilets!
After we had been there a little while a guy wandered in. Now to me he looked like Freddy Kruger with the hat and everything, some people just thought he was the local village idiot. Turns out that there is some sort of antique fire station next door and a few of the locals wanted to crack open some vodka and give us a drink.
We also managed to get a good fire going outside at this point and the locals soon learnt that by shouting “Diesel” means get out-of-the-way while we pour it on the fire to keep it going.
Another cold nights sleep saw us into the next day nicely.
Breakfast sorted and then the troops hit the road once more leaving us to break everything down and pack up the wagon for the next meetup.
We did have the assistance of Freddy Krugger again who enjoyed his morning beer that we gave him while we all had coffee.
Another airport run completed to collect more VIP’s and then back into the town for the biggest pizza’s you ever did see.
The troops were sleeping in the building you can see below, it was a great facility and the heating was on full. This building was actually used back in 1945 as a stopping point.
Support party slept in the workmen huts, which again were red hot and had the luxury of showers!
VIP’s now fully integrated, German army assisting and it was off on the final leg to the rail head at Sprenburg.
Got to the old rail head and setup the flag and boogie box ready for the end of the march.
Nearly ran over some old bloke who looked like the lion out of the Wizard of Ozz, so much for somebody telling me he was an undesirable.
Hung around abit and then finally our troops rounded the road at the bottom, got the veterans to lead them on the finally push and the end of the march.
Time for a parade and a very moving poem.
Once the parade was over, it was time to get in the coaches and get off to Kliczkow Castle for a meal and some drinks.
This was a particularly good night had by all!
Listening to the speech by one of the veterans really made it for me and brought a tear to my eye I tell thee.
After ragging a few students to break dining in rules, we had our meal and popped to the bar for pictures and a few drinks.
Got rid of the students early as they had a flight to catch.
Tucked away a few Scotch’s and fell asleep in my cosy hotel room to the sounds of Led Zepplin, didnt hear any snoring here either!
Up early feeling very rough.
Off to Berlin to start the journey back to blighty.
Arrived in Berlin late afternoon, parked up all the waggons, checked into the hotel and out for a steak and a swift half.
Now being the sensible person I am, I decided not to drink much and get an early night. It then took me nearly two hours to navigate the 10 minutes from the bar that we were in. Yep, I got proper lost!
I carried on walking down the main road for miles not wanting to admit that I was lost. Eventually I spotted the 7.5 tonner at the side of the road and I then used this as a beacon to guide me back to the hotel. I wasnt going to admit to everybody that I was lost but I couldnt help myself.
I think this night is where operation “Bum Sick” might of started as a few team members were feeling the burn.
Ahh, a day of sightseeing for a handful of us. We did the normal tourist stuff, Brandenburg gate, Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie.
I must recommend the “Topology of Terror” museum! It has a long piece of the wall and its on the site of the SS HQ. Very very interesting and its free to get in!
Had me a burger at McDonald’s next to Checkpoint Charlie and got a taxi back to the hotel.
Quick shower and off out for yet another steak and a beer.
Op Bum Sick was taking hold a bit now along with potential heart attacks as the journey was taking its toll on the support party.
Earlyish night as a drive to Bruggen was on the cards.
Drive to Bruggen with a poorly team member.
At least we could have a single room here.
Team feeling tired.
Bum Sick rearing its head again.
Cheap meal in the grill
Early night as big drive back to Blighty.
Bruggen to the Eurotunnel.
Thought we were going to have hassles with the vehicles again but they had actually been booked under the correct types. 4×4 left ahead to rush our poorly member back to base. He was dosed up with Imodium to keep in the bum sick by the way. Oh, we did give them a bowl just in case!
Minibus went ahead also and left us in the 7.5 tonner to slug it out at 56 Mph all the way back to Cosford.
Smashed a bargain bucket on the way back tho, bonus.
Just got to say that we all had a great time. Great bunch of lads and we laughed all the way!
Would I do it again.
Yep, I think I would.
Words of note:
Bum Sick / Ohh Shit / Ohh Train / Turkish Taxi / Get Bent