Digital Archive – Voss Collection: Biography of Dietrich Voss
1926 - 2006
DIETRICH HEINRICH KARL VOSS
For You “Gerry” as I have always known you
I feel very privileged to have been allowed access to your memories. It has been a labour of love for a lovely man.
I am sorry that it has taken me so long to complete and I am most grateful for your patience throughout my many
During all the years that I have known you, even during your illness, you have remained a cheerful, kind, good and loving friend and I know that was how Geoff saw you too.
On this your 80 th birthday may I wish you many more happy years.
Dietrich Heinrich Karl Voss
My life began on 19 December Nineteen twenty-Six in a small house on a street called Grunenstrasse, in Schwerrin, Mecklenburg , Germany . The picture below is the only one that I have of me with my mother and father, I am sure I am in there somewhere!
My fathers name was Dietrich Voss; he was forty-six years old when I was born, having been born in 1880. I do not remember if he had any other Christian name.
My Birth Certificate
My mothers name was Ida; her maiden name was Oberlander as I remember from the names of my Uncles (her brothers). At thirty-six years of age she was ten years younger than my father, having been born in 1890.
I was my father’s only son, although as he had been married before I already had two half sisters who I seem to remember were about 10 and 8 years older than I was.
My two half sisters lived with their own mother and my memories of them as children are a little faded although I can remember the name of one since I visited her over the years and she helped to find me a job when I left school. Her name was Annie and she was then living in Mecklenburg
Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the younger one, although I can remember that she lived in Lubeck !
Annie with her husband Heinz Wille and her sons
My father worked as a night watchman at a factory in Schwerrin and my mother worked on the land when work was available. I remember a happy home; my parents were kind although my father was stricter than my mother when the occasion demanded that I needed telling off.
I was given pocket money, pennies which I enjoyed spending on sweets & chocolate (have always had a sweet tooth), and sometimes marbles, a game I loved to play with my friends.
Another game I remembered playing was I think called “Pig in the Middle”, three at a time played throwing the ball to each other, over the head of the one in the middle.
The one in the middle had to try to catch the ball to be able to change places with one of the throwers.
Children today all over the world still play this game.
In Germany at that time, and I believe it is still the practice, children didn’t start school until they were six years old.
I can clearly remember my first day at school, walking there with a large paper cone in my arms, filled with sweets and chocolates, provided by mother and father, to share with my friends and classmates.
Although I do not have a photograph of myself at that age, I did later in life receive this photograph of my sister Annie’s son Carl Heinz on the day that he started school and this shows him carrying his cone of sweets.
What a good way to celebrate becoming a boy big enough to go to school.
When I was very young I enjoyed school, but not so much as I became older. The classes were single sex and further divided into age groups. I remained in this school until at the age of nine years we moved out of the town to the village of Schwerrin Gorries where I attended the village school.
I have sadly lost contact with many of the friends that I made during those days as a result of the many changes during the intervening years. Two friends from my very early years were the son & daughter of a farmer in Schwerrin Gorres, their names were Ursula & Kurt Heil.
These are photographs which were sent to me in later years, Ursula in 1947 and Kurt in 1948.
I do still have contact with another old friend, Günter Grohning who writes & occasionally telephones. I have learned from him over the years of the fate of others that I knew, including my relatives. Here he is in his wedding photograph.
Living in the village was a carefree life, although to earn my pocket money I was expected to help with jobs in and around the house. My parents kept two nanny goats whose milk we drank and whose kids were sold to help the family income. We were close to the railway line and my father was able to tether the goats on the embankment to graze.
This grazing was free of charge but as the grass was a little sparse it was one of my jobs, and one I enjoyed, to move the tethers from time to time during the day to allow the goats to move along the bank. I would also go out along the hedges and ditches and collect fresh sweet grass for them.
I seem to remember that we had plenty of vegetables in our diet, but sprouts were not known in Germany , or at least where I lived, at that time.
We were lucky that we lived close to a farm and we got eggs, extra milk if we needed it and some pork whenever they killed a pig.
As with most boys, I loved being out playing with my friends, we loved running and jumping in the loose hay when it was cut and I was frequently told off by my father for trailing it back in through the house, when it had clung to my clothes, causing extra work for my poor mother.
My love of farming and the open air obviously started very young.
Near to our village was an airfield where the local farmer was allowed to graze both cattle and sheep and I earned extra pocket money during the long summer school holidays by looking after them and making sure they didn’t stray.
I was helped in this by the dog belonging to the farmer.
I didn’t have a dog of my own as a boy although neighbours did & I enjoyed playing with the puppies when their bitch had them, as this picture shows.
When I was 12 years old I was allowed a more responsible position and one I loved.
I was allowed to sit on the back of the horse that pulled the dray onto which the farm workers were tossing the newly harvested sheaves of corn. At a word from them I was able to move the horse on and stop wherever necessary. I was in heaven as I loved horses.
That was the summer just after I had taken the entrance exam for the Grammar school and I was waiting for the results. I passed the exam and in the September I started my senior education. The Grammar School was a large building on the outskirts of the town of Schwerrin , a medium sized town.
In the town was a large lake which was called “Pfaffenteich”. The railway station was on the other side of the lake but a small boat ferried passengers across for a small fee, a very useful short cut. At weekends you could also hire a small boat just to mess about on the water and have fun. I remember lots of ducks which we would feed.
I was almost 13 years of age when I started grammar school, I found it very interesting at first and some of the teachers were very good.
I studied Mathematics which I enjoyed, History & Geography (which I didn’t enjoy so much because the teacher was very strict) Woodwork, and a little about religion, but not much.
Our first introduction to a foreign Language course came at the end of the first year. It was English which I enjoyed. I never thought at that time that I would ever be living in England .
Later we were to study French but I found this very difficult, I just could not twist my tongue around the pronunciation.
At this time the war had not made any great impression on me.
Living in the countryside we were not particularly affected. The first foreign plane I spotted I just thought was lost!
Soon sirens would begin to sound, but mainly at night.
The first time that I was aware of the seriousness of war was when an announcement in the newspaper during 1940 advised us that rationing of food would be necessary and that ration books would be issued, one per household.
Meat was the first thing to be rationed, but since I was never a great meat eater this did not affect me greatly. My mother was a good cook and we always had plenty to eat, vegetables were in good supply as were plums and apples. We also had a bonus of plenty of skimmed milk from the nearby farm.
The next things to be rationed were tea and sugar and this did bother me since I had (and still do have) a very sweet tooth. Fortunately we were able to obtain saccharin which made things a little better.
Before long we were subject to visits from a warden to check that we had good blackout provision and they would afterwards make spot-checks to make sure that we were observing the blackout and also going to shelter when the air raid siren was sounded.
If raids happened during the school day then we just had to stay in our classroom since the school didn’t have any shelters or cellars.
We did not have separate air raid shelters at home either, but used the cellar, which was under the house. There wasn’t any access to this cellar from inside the house, we could only enter by going down a small flight of steps outside the house, taking with us any provisions we thought we might need.
As a young boy I did not really appreciate the possible danger of the situation, I found it quite exciting and would try to open the cellar door to see what was going on when a particularly loud bang had been heard. My parents would tell me off and insist I close the door, in truth I had found it quite frightening on opening the door to see the glow of flames so very near!!
One particular night when the all clear was sounded we discovered that the village had been bombed and 40 houses had been hit. The railway line near to our house was not damaged but the nearby airfield had been hit several times.
Immediately following this, the government ordered the guns which surrounded the airfield to be silenced and so hopefully prevent further bombing of the village, however, bombing did continue, sometimes 2 or 3 times each week.
School life continued and I enjoyed and was quite good at my English lessons. I continued to attend the youth group with my friends which I had joined at the age of ten years feeling very grown up, especially in my storm cap and overcoat, as you see me in these pictures.
My friend Gunter always wore a trilby hat as you can see below.
During the evenings and holidays I was still helping out at the farm, guiding the horses and sometimes helping take milk into the factories in town. This was carried in churns on the cart.
School life was affected by the fact that many of our male teachers had now gone to war & had been replaced by women teachers.
Very soon it became obvious to my teachers that my heart was not really in being at school, and so my headmaster sent for my father and advised him that he was wasting his money keeping me in education.
My father sensibly decided to take note of what my head master was saying and so my schooldays came to an end.
The Start of My Working Life
My real love was farming and so in 1942 I left school and the next part of my life began.
After about a fortnight at home my sister Annie found me a job at a farm near to where she lived.
The farm was being run by the farmer’s wife, her husband being away at war. There were two other men working with me, a Frenchman and a Pole we got on quite well together.
We lived in an extension on the side of the farmhouse, each having our own room. Food was provided by the farmer’s wife and we took it back to our own rooms to eat.
The pay at the farm was not very good, but enough to manage. In the evenings after work we would sometimes go into the nearby village and meet up with other young men and walk and chat.
The work was general farm work but I was disappointed that horses were not used on the farm. Heavier work was done using a tractor. My sister Annie lived about 2-3 miles away and I would usually visit her at weekends and she would do my washing for me, I stayed at this farm for about 8 months.
The next farm I went to allowed me to gain more experience, it was a larger and more modern farm. They grew corn, had a milking herd and also two horses, this was much more to my liking.
The family there were very good and I and two other workers lived in the house with the family.
Although they did have a tractor it was only needed occasionally and so the fact that petrol was in short supply did not cause a problem.
My normal daily routine began by rising early, about 6:00 am. Following a drink of milky tea with saccharin (sugar being rationed),I would first go out to feed, water and brush the horses then do the milking, about a dozen cows, which was done by hand.
When milking was finished we went in to breakfast which was usually brown bread and raw bacon and sometimes coffee, which was not rationed.
The next job would be to prepare the horses for whatever job we had to do that day.
It was particularly hard work at ploughing time walking behind the horses, but I enjoyed being with them. We did not use nosebags on them; they ate when we came in at mid-day for our main meal of the day.
We would also stop mid afternoon and have the drink we had taken into the fields with us, this was usually cold coffee.
At the end of the day we would sometimes walk or cycle into the nearby village and meet friends to talk, we would often meet up outside the schoolteacher’s house.
Sometimes we would travel in as a group in a horse drawn cart such as the one below.
I am not in this one, it is a photograph sent to me in 1950.
I was occasionally given the job of taking the mare from the farm to another farm nearby to be serviced by the stallion.
I was usually very nervous about this once I arrived at the farm, since the stallion could become very frisky and this could be quite dangerous for the person handling the mare, luckily however, I never came to any harm.
Then in October 1943 my peaceful life underwent a dramatic change, my call-up papers arrived.
This was to be the end of my innocent boyhood.
My parents were naturally very upset because I was only allowed two weeks home leave before I had to report to the army for training.
They must have been hoping that I would never be called up but unfortunately I was included in the very last call up in Germany, that being of those born in 1926 and so I was very unlucky having only just been born in 1926—the nineteenth of December to be exact!!!
I believe that this was the last photograph taken of me in Germany ; I was not quite 17yrs of age.
I saw my home and parents for the last time on Sunday 31 October 1943. This was when my parents saw me onto the train at Schwerrin Gorries; I was going to Czechoslovakia to an army headquarters training camp.
Both my father and mother died whilst I was a prisoner of war. My father was the first to die; this was whilst I was in America , my mother later when I was in England .
Several other young men of my age were also going to the same training camp. I can only presume that they felt the same way that I did, a mixture of excitement and apprehension at what lay ahead together with some sadness at leaving home.
On arrival in Czechoslovakia I was put into the infantry, although I cannot remember my unit or army number, and we began training, although for a while we were still wearing our civilian clothes since we were waiting for our uniforms to be organized.
Once our training was over we were then transported by lorry through Hungary and finally by train to Italy .
My memories of this time are unclear but I know that we arrived at a camp just outside Pisa .
The people seemed to be quite friendly and we spent most of our time checking the population, I never new quite why!!
One of the benefits at that time was that there was no shortage of wine.
My memories of fighting at that time are of burning cornfields and trying to grab a little sleep whenever I could.
We did not by now have weapons, we had run out of ammunition and either lost or discarded our guns some time earlier, we were trying to hide and get away from the advancing soldiers.
We had very little cover but they were able to shelter behind their tanks as they advanced.
On my final day of freedom I remember coming to a large culvert, a fellow soldier and I jumped down and tried to hide. We could hear the advancing tanks and voices getting closer and then came the words I will never forget—
“ Come on my German soldiers” .
I looked up and there was an American soldier standing on the top edge of the culvert beckoning to us to come out.
My part in the war was over; I had served just 8 months.
So began the next period of my life as a prisoner of war.
A Prisoner of War
Prisoner transport was by lorry and as we passed through the towns the people there stoned the lorries we were travelling in.
We were taken to a camp, I don’t know quite where, we were housed in tents, sleeping on the ground.
I do not remember having any fear, I realised that for me the war was over, my captors were mainly kind and food was plentiful.
The majority of American soldiers were very good, but just as with all nationalities some were not so good.
It was at this time that I saw a black person for the very first time.
I remained in a prison camp in Italy for about 3 months; the ground was a sand/earth base, no grass at all. The main building where food was cooked and washing/toilet facilities were available was a solid brick building.
Time passed slowly and I played cards with other prisoners. Football was also played, and although I have followed the local team here in Pershore for many years, I never had any interest in playing.
The number of prisoners increased with the addition of more men who had obviously been fighting in the dessert as was apparent from their uniforms.
The time then came for us to be moved, we were transported to a port (I do not know its name) and put on a freighter bound for America . The journey took 26 days and during this time our food, again in good supply, was all tinned. During the journey we would occasionally see a plane passing overhead.
On arrival in America , I was taken to a camp where all my details were taken, I was then allocated my living quarters. This was a tent which I shared with one other man.
Work was then allocated to all prisoners. I was sent to Missouri where I was part of a group used to pick cotton.
The fields in which we worked were those where the black pickers would not work because it was such a poor crop and they were paid “piece work” in other words by the amount picked, and they could not earn good money picking it.
The work was quite painful at first because the cotton plant had large thorns which if you were not careful, would tear your fingers quite badly. This very quickly taught me to be careful when picking the cotton.
We wore large”pockets” made from hessian sacking which were slung across our chests so that we could pick directly into them. They were about 6 feet long and the poor crop meant that it took a very long time to fill them.
Once full these pockets were collected by black workers and taken back to the farm for drying.
Although we worked hard we were not paid in normal money but in “camp money” this could be used in the camp shops to buy extra’s like crisps, sweets, cigarettes etc. We didn’t really need to buy extra food because we were very well fed.
The time spent here was quite pleasant it was the summer after my 18 th birthday and the weather was very warm.
Sadly during that summer of 1945 I received a letter from my mother telling me that my father had died, he would have been 66yrs of age at that time.
These two photographs were sent to me during my imprisonment and show my parents in their later years.
At the end of the cotton picking we were moved to Carson POW camp in Colorado .
We travelled by train which only had very small slits for windows so we didn’t see very much of the land we were travelling through. All the food we were given for the journey was canned and we were each given a small can opener which I kept for many years, but which became lost at some stage.
Arrival in Colorado was a bit of a shock weather-wise because it was very, very cold. We were housed in tents and these had some form of heating but I can’t remember what sort.
The work we had there was beet pulling, we were not set a particular quota per day, we were just there until it had all been pulled. We were working alongside men who had never done farm work and so were very slow, we had to help them and teach them how to do it.
The camp guards were not unpleasant but we were not allowed out of camp other than to go to work.
We were allowed to write home as often as we liked and obviously from my letters my mother was concerned about my working in the extreme cold because she sent me some earmuffs to wear.
They were made of metal but covered inside and out with a soft plush fabric so that they were comfortable against the skin and the band which goes over the head is adjustable so that when not in use they would fold and fit
I still them have to this day and here I am modelling them.
Although I didn’t have any particular friends in camp at that time, a group of about six or seven of us from the camp in Missouri fell into the habit of hanging about together.
One of these was a man who had been a tailor, and whilst we were all required to wear a uniform, ours being khaki, he was allowed to make his own from some black material, (I never knew where he got it from) it was very well made and very smart).
Unfortunately the look of it was a little spoiled because he still had to stitch identification marks on to it to clearly identify himself as a prisoner of war.
These marks were in white cloth and were a figure “P” on right arm and leg and “W” on left arm and leg together with “PW” on the back of the jacket.
The rest of us had these same letters, but in black fabric on our khaki uniforms. These identification letters are shown quite clearly in the following photograph
When the harvest was over we were given other work to do around the camp, one job was helping out in the officers mess, laying tables and clearing up. During this time I put on weight because the sergeant told us to help ourselves to any food we wanted, opening tins for anything that was not already out.
The Americans always ate very well but they seemed to waste more than they ate, so that the pigs at the local farm did very well.
Loudspeakers played out the news each day and this is how we heard that the war was over.
I was so glad to hear this news and my first thought was “When are they going to let me go home?” Before leaving this camp our small group had this photograph taken, sadly I do not remember their names.
Everyone was naturally very excited but as the weeks passed we began to realise that possibly this wasn’t going to happen very quickly, particularly when our heads were shaved and we were given new clothes, ordinary shirts and trousers but still with the letters on them clearly marking us as POWs.
We were then taken to a boat and only then did we discover, from the crew, that in fact we were being taken to Belgium . I was very upset at the thought of not seeing my family in the near future.
I was not to know that I would never see them again.
This journey was to take ten days and at first food was handed out carefully (again all tinned) but towards the end of the journey we were given more food than we could possibly eat. This was because anything left over would have to be thrown away because the ship had to be cleared at the end of the journey.
On arrival in Belgium we were taken to our new camp which was about half an hours drive from the port, this was an old paper mill with several floors and lots of steps. This was not a good place to be, we were always inside with absolutely nothing to do.
The only exercise we had was the run down for food, which when we got it was very poor. A very watery soup for our main meal and sandwiches at other times, meat, cheese or jam plus either coffee or tea.
How I longed for some of the food we had wasted on the boat.
I was near to the top of the building which held approx 400 men and we all slept in camp beds.
The flights of steps were stone with wooden hand rails and by the time I had run to the bottom there was sometimes little food left.
I was in this place for 5-6weeks and lost a lot of weight.
Rumours were circulating of a move soon to England , this was confirmed by an American officer.
We were told that we were going to be sent to a large camp in England to be dispersed as necessary, wherever workers were needed.
This proved true and early one morning we left by boat for England , fortunately not a very long journey.
Life in England
On 15 th May 1946 I arrived and I was issued with documentation called an “Aliens Order 1920”.
Details on this document which is shown next, indicate that I carried an identity certificate, number WO/NR 233 issued by the camp commandant of 48 German PW.WKG. Camp, but I cannot remember if this was issued in Colorado or Belgium , but since it refers to “Wkg camp” which is a “working camp” then I assume it was Camp Carson , since we did not work in Belgium .
This document shown in the following photographs is in fact a continuation, since as the first one was full up; it was withdrawn when this one was issued.
Only the final page remains of the original and this was glued inside the back cover of the current one by the issuing officer in Hereford in 1952.
Note that I had to pay for this document. It cost 5 shillings ! The equivalent of 25pence in today’s money.
I was required to report all changes of address to the local police station right up until May 1961 when the Aliens order of 1960 cancelled the requirement.
One side of last page of original Aliens Order
Reverse of last Page of original Aliens Order.
I was then transported, by lorry, to a large camp in Presteigne, Herefordshire, together with about 300 other POWs. Food here was better being brought in twice a week by lorry.
I remained there for about 3 weeks until I was moved as part of a group of 50 men, to a smaller camp in Dorstone in Herefordshire where we were told what jobs we would be going to.
This work was allocated as much as possible according to our previous civilian jobs. I was one of a group of 10 who were dispersed to various farms.
During this time I continued to receive regular letters from my mother.
Although I was required to return to the camp each night, I was trusted to come and go unescorted, a walk of about 2 miles. A warden would check with the farmer regularly that I was turning up and working well. At the farm I worked with the farmer, his wife, daughter and another woman. They had 12-14 cows to be milked.
The weather in the winter of 1946/47 was very bad, the snow was so deep that the lorry couldn’t get through to the camp and so the farmer used horses to get rations through.
During this time the milk could not be collected so the farmers’ wife made butter and gave the skimmed milk to the camp to save it being wasted, a welcome addition to the usual rations.
Although at the end of the war I could have returned to Germany I decided that since my parents had died and that returning prisoners were being sent to the Eastern Front by the Russians, I would be better off staying in England.
The farm I was working at was Newton Farm Westbrook, Hereford ,
It was owned by a Mr Timmins, we got on very well together and in late 1947,( I was nearly 21 yrs old by then) he applied for me to stay on, not to be moved to another farm.
From then on it was only an occasional police check to make sure there were no problems.
I worked there with a lovely horse called “Kit” who was very sure footed and when working in the fields, never stepped on a plant.
On Kits back
Mr Timmins had a son Joe who was married to Hilda. His daughter Nellie had married a man called Trevor, and his other daughter Kathleen who was still at home, had a Dutch boyfriend in the next village whose name was Pieter Stutz, whom she later married.
Kathleen would drive her father into market whenever he needed to go, since he couldn’t drive and neither could I at that time.
Cath with the car
I could manage to drive the tractors though and drove between the farm and the camp in Dorstone.
Life settled down to a pleasant rhythm, we were allowed out socially and I became friends with two other POW farm workers, Franz Marson and Kurt (whose surname I forget).
Franz and I on a day trip from the village.
Unfortunately I lost touch with Kurt when he moved to another area, but I kept in touch with Franz even when he returned to Germany .
He returned to live in Waldneil and we kept in touch until he died.
I was very pleased when later in life he and his wife Annaliese came to visit me when I lived at Tilesford near Throckmorton.
During the 1970’s they went on holiday to Austria and sent me the photograph below.
As you can see, Franz had lost a great deal of his hair even then, but fortunately I have managed to keep most of mine.
Living in the countryside suited me, I acquired a bicycle and was able to ride between the camp and farm since it was nice and flat.
I also enjoyed going into town when I could and did this by bus since the roads to Hay-on-Wye were very hilly, and it was a long way to Hereford .
I had by now bought my first civilian suit, and thought I was very smart. What do you think?
Although I could have gone to the Cinema in town, I never was much of a cinema fan. I enjoyed looking around and talking to friends.
I didn’t have a girlfriend at this time, however I did notice that ladies clothing here was quite different from that in Germany .
At home skirts were a little shorter and more of a costume style (similar to Austrian National Costume).
Kathleen’s boyfriend would help at very busy times such as harvest, other times he would come over and we would listen to Gramophone records or watch T.V.
They married in later years as this photograph shows, and eventually converted part of the farm into a café.
We remained friends for 50 years but sadly since Kath’s death in 2000 we seem to have lost touch with Peter.
In late 1949 as sometimes happens when people get older, Mr Timmins changed and became miserable and extremely difficult to work with.
That, combined with the fact that Kath and Pieter were married, meant that I was not needed as much as before, and so I made the decision to move on.
Although still under some restrictions as a POW, I was able to move to another farm as long as I informed the police.
I learned of a farmer, Mr Allan Davies, The Parks, Almeley, Nr Kington, Herefordshire who needed help. The farm was not large being only 60 or 70 acres.
I applied and was taken on and lived in, I was there from 1949 until 1951. They were very nice people and Mrs Davies was an extremely good cook.
They had two daughters, the older one, about 18yrs old left home whilst I was working there. This left the younger daughter who was about 15 at the time, but quite unexpectedly Mrs Davies became pregnant again.
This came as quite a shock to them (and everyone else) but a very happy one, and in due course another daughter was born.
Her name was Elizabeth but she was always known as “Tooty”. In the following photograph she is being held by her father, Mr Davies, and the cattle dog is next to me.
Tooty with me
During my time at this farm the police checks ceased.
I am unsure exactly when, although I was still required to report any change of address and this remained law until the Aliens order was amended in 1960 and the final stamp in my aliens order certificate of registration was added on 20 th May 1961.
It was also during my time at this farm that I received news from my aunt and her son Hans, that my mother (her sister) had died, and so I had now lost both parents.
My aunt had to send a form for me to complete and sign to enable her to claim a small amount of money that my mother had left.
As a prisoner of war resident in England I was not allowed to claim it.
The Parks farm was a mixed one, consisting of a milking herd of 12 cows, some sheep, poultry and two dogs.
One of the dogs was specially for rounding up the cattle and needed to be a much tougher dog than a sheepdog or he would not have lasted long around them.
I enjoyed working with the dogs very much, they had been very well trained by the farmer.
I was sorry that they didn’t have any horses, but I was kept busy with general work and Mr Davies drove the tractor, but I also drove on occasions.
Mr Davis and Tooty watching over the hedge.
Some arable crops were being grown, potatoes and mangols (these were for cattle winter feed).
We made some hay but not in a big way, the land was more of a smallholding than a farm but although there was a good sized garden there was not much fruit.
A long drive led up to the farm house and at the bottom of the drive was a large sanatorium where people were treated for a variety of illnesses.
After a hard week’s work I enjoyed my time off and made friends easily with farmers sons and other workers and we would go to a local pub or to the point to point around the Wye Valley.
Most of these meets were within 2-3 miles, so we usually travelled by bike.
One of the places I remember going to was The Westons at Bredwardine.Most people had a small bet and although I knew nothing about betting I did occasionally win a couple of pounds. I never lost a great deal because I didn’t have much to bet with in the first place!
No matter how the betting went, they were very pleasant days and usually ended up in the pub in Almeley where some of the nurses from the sanatorium had come for a drink.
It was here in 1950 that I met my first girlfriend, Sylvia, who later became my first wife.
She was actually working in the Sanatorium at the bottom of the farm drive and living in, since her home was some distance away in Bosbury.
At this time I couldn’t drive so some of my friends who had cars, taught me. I bought an old Austin Seven which my friends always made fun of, describing it as a “matchbox on wheels.”
I took my driving test in 1950 and passed first time.
When my days off didn’t coincide with Sylvia’s she would go home to Bosbury by bus, but when they did, I would drive her.
On one trip to visit her, I suddenly came upon a flood across the road. I couldn’t stop in time and ploughed straight into it with the result that the surge of water flooded the distributor and caused the car to breakdown. I didn’t have any mechanical knowledge then and so I was stuck.
I stayed in the car all-night and then the next morning pushed the car into town when I knew it was time for a garage to be open.
Fortunately I was able to phone the farm and let them know what had happened and that I would be there as soon as possible.
Sylvia was a pretty, friendly girl who liked to dance, although I have never been a dancer. We married in 1951 at Bishops Frome in Hereford when I was 25 years old.
The car had to go once I was married since I couldn’t afford to run it. It was by then a very old car anyway and as far as I remember, it went for scrap.
Whilst I was with Mr Davies I also regularly worked for his brother-in-law a Mr Frank Roberts at Staunton-on-Wye and when he heard that I was getting married, he offered me a full time job and a cottage which was on his farm at the bottom of the drive near the road.
This was the first home of my own. There was no electricity laid on but this was provided by a generator belonging to a Mr Gerry Williams and we paid him for the supply.
The cottage had 2 bedrooms, living room with a bathroom/toilet off it.
A kitchen which had an electric cooker, (Sylvia was a reasonable cook.) There was also a small garden.
We stayed there for about 4 months, until one day my wife mentioned that there was a job going at a pig/cattle farm.
This was at Stoney House Farm, Stanley Hill, Ledbury.
[Editor’s Note: More recent history takes the remainder of the narrative outside of the Ewyas Lacy area, and – with the exception of Dietrich Voss’ concluding words below - has been omitted for that reason and to protect the privacy of the Voss family]
Overall, looking back over my life, I can say that it has been very interesting. Mostly good, but some parts bad, although compared to many other people I consider myself to be quite a lucky man… Although I was unlucky to have been called up, only being eligible by 13 days, who knows how my life would have turned out if I had been born in 1927!!
Sitting comfortably October 2006.