I enlisted on 16th February 1940 at Stoke on Trent. We trained at various places in
England and then in September we sailed for Egypt on the "Brittanic" and fought the Italians
in the desert. Suddenly we were ordered to board the "Ulster Prince" and we sailed for
Greece in March 1941. We were to support the Greeks against the German invasion of their
country but this turned out to be a military disaster and I was captured near Corinth by two German
soldiers who told me the war was over for me.
It was on April 29th 1941 that I started life as a Prisoner of War and was fearful of what lay ahead. We were taken to Corinth Camp for a while and then were forced to march to northern Greece where we were herded into cattle trucks 50 - 60 to a truck and traveled right through Yugoslavia into Austria on a nightmare journey. Eventually we found ourselves in Stalag XV111A.
While in this main Stalag, some of us were detailed to work on an Airport which was against the rules for any P.O.W. to work at a military establishment. The Red Cross found out and sent us back to XV111A. I was sent to a working camp - GW199 near Hohentauern, in the mountains of Austria, where I spent the next 4 years working in a mine. Conditions gradually became bearable, especially when Red Cross parcels began to arrive. These were indeed life savers.
There were a number of us in the hut who played musical instruments. I forget how we came across these but I would imagine we bartered our cigarettes with the villagers for them, and so we were able to entertain ourselves. I played the violin.
One day an American airman crashed nearby and we attended his burial and we were able to send photographs of this to his family.
|Ken Millington on right with violin||Burial of US Pilot|
It was to the Americans that I owe my life. While working in the mine I badly damaged my leg in an accident with a truck and was taken to the local hospital and operated on, without anaesthetic, when they took 39 pieces of flesh from my thigh to fill the hole in my leg. This turned septic after a while and I was very ill by the time Germany capitulated. Some Americans came to the hospital looking for one of their officers. He was not there but the nurse pointed me out to them. I was immediately taken under their wing and given lots of penicillin and so eventually was on my feet again after 3 months in a German hospital. I was flown home and spent another 3 months in hospital at Stratford-on-Avon which was near to where my parents lived. so ended an unforgettable 4 years in captivity.