Jack Calder - With the Russians

Running time
4 min 33 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Eventually we caught up with what we believed were the Russian forces. Nobody could speak English. The only language we could converse with them was in German. Our German was a little bit better than what theirs was. Not very good but a little bit better... We tried to convince these fellows that we were escaped prisoners of war, was having some difficulty in doing it. Then a car came along and a woman poked her head out the window and says, "Are you boys in trouble?" Just like that. But as a Cockney, a Londoner...

She looked at us both and she says to Taffy, "I know where you've come from. You come from Wales don't you?" Said, "Yes." "The other bloke I wouldn't have a clue." I told her, she said, "Oh, that place way down the bottom of the world." That's what they knew. Anyway, it turned out that this woman was a doctor in the Russian army. She had done her training in London pre-war and she'd spent something like 5 years in London. It was where the Cockney... her voice came from. She put us on the strength of her unit. We stayed with her unit until after the war had finished in Europe.

Around about, I think the war finished in Europe about the 5th of May or something like that. 5 or 6 days later, she said, "Do you boys know the war is finished in Europe?" Said, "No nobody's told us." She said, "Well, it is." "Oh good. What do we do now?" She said, "Well, you've got to go back to England, whether you like it or not, you must go back to England." I said, "Well, how's that going to happen?" She said, "Well, you've got 3 avenues open to you. You either go down to Odessa on the Black Sea. Take the risk of a boat taking you back to England. It might take 6 months. It might take 12." "That's out." "Or you can go over to Italy, where the British forces were." And Taffy says, "No thanks, I know what the red tape will be like, if we get over there." "Or you can go up to Czechoslovakia along the border and meet the Italians...sorry, meet the Americans." "Well, I think we'll do that." She said, "Good."

The Russians had been supplied with vehicles made in America and Canada. Every vehicle they had was either American or Canadian. She gave us, what they called, a Canadian all steel utility, a small vehicle. Two 44-gallon drums of petrol and says, "On your way." Of course, we were down in Bulgaria. We went on our way, we had no problems at all, eventually we got on to the river Elbe, I think it was and the American troops were one side, Russian troops were the other side. We let it be known that we wanted to get across to the Americans, which we did. We left the truck where it was.

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