Stalag 99: the Great Escape!

Stalag Watchtower

As we approached the gates of Stalag 99 we could see the blue uniforms of the Arbeitskommando milling around within the wire fencing of the grey compound.

After a dank and miserable journey north through horrendous rain and road spray we had arrived at the camp. It’s facade gave an early indication of what to expect during our following week of incarceration. It was late afternoon as we made our way up the drive, my thoughts drifted (worryingly) to questions without answers. Was this our final destination, or merely a transit camp prior to a transfer to something even more austere? Would we even fit in and/or be accepted by the remaining inmates?

As we crouched in cold and cramped anticipation among the damp rocks below the lighthouse awaiting some maritime salvation from our turmoil. In the half-light of the cold evening mist the outline of HMS Lusty could be seen breaking through the evening fret and spray. Could it be that our frantic and hastily sent signal had actually been received, despite the passing of so many years since my morse test at the Cullercoates Radio Station?

The prospect of rescue was finally at hand and escape from a week of purgatory in a caravan at Whitley Bay was imminent…

To be fair, various ‘day release’ trips from the camp had at least provided some solace and escape from the camp conditions. Better rations at the Gibraltar Rock in Tynemouth, more good food at Sambuca on the quayside in North Shields and a trip to the clothing store at the Royal Quays.

At Alnwick we had observed around 50 riders on Harley Davidson motorbikes in the town square. Apparently they were part way through the A-B-C ride from the Albermarle barracks, in Tynedale, to RAF Boulmer, then down to HMS Calliope on Newcastle’s quayside. All in aid of raising funds on behalf of the Help-4-Heroes charity.

If nothing else, the scenery and Northumbria coastline is some of the best in the UK and to be highly recommended however; I just find some of the orange coloured booze fuelled yocals in their designer label sports clothing a little difficult to comprehend and associate with sometimes. Strange how so many, judging by their size and despite their attire, appear to have done very little of anything remotely active since childhood? 🙂

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