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His narrow escape when an Allied formation bombed Oflag 79 near Brunswick, on August 24 last was described by Sapper R. H. Arroll, who said he was "fortunate in being on the right side of a brick wall at the time." "Lying as close to the ground as he could get, added Arroll, he "said a few prayers." The bombing, the result of a mistake, led to three prisoners being killed and 40 wounded. At the time the camp held 2000 officers and about 400 men. It was from this camp that he was released on April 12 when troops from the 30th United States Division were passing through.

"It was a great sight to see the tanks coming," said Sapper Arroll. "We knew that the Allies were pushing ahead. The artillery barrage, which we could hear many miles away, was terrific." He referred to the effects of bombing of German towns and mentioned how the morale of the prisoners was raised when they saw up to 1200 bombers, with half as many fighters as escorts, passing close to the camp on their missions over Germany. Sapper Arroll is not likely to forget his experience while oeing taken from Salonika to the prisoner of war camp at Lamsdorf. Leaving Salonika on New Year's Day, 1942, the 43 men in his party were packed into a railway van on a journey which occupied 15 nights and 14 days. Conditions were unbearable, the weather being extremely cold and each man having only one blanket. All moisture inside the van froze and 'their food, which was carried in another van, was "frozen j stiff."

The treatment accorded to prisoners of war he described as being "generally fair." There were exceptions as the result of brutal German guards and he knew of occasional shootings and bayonetings.

Leaving with headquarters of the New Zealand engineers in the First Echelon, Sapper Arroll served in Greece and was among the several thousand captured by the Germans in Spahkia Valley, Crete, on June 1, 1941.

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Bibliographic details

NARROW ESCAPE, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 170, 20 July 1945

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NARROW ESCAPE Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 170, 20 July 1945

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