At Benghaze (a prisoner-of-war-camp) a German officer handed them to the Italians and apologized for doing so. During the 5 months he was there on meager rations he sewed himself a jacket and pants from Italian tents using thread from the canvas tents. South African Blacks traded bits and pieces with the prisoners and Jack obtained a needle from them this way. Jack traded his boots for food and then had to look for another pair. He nicked them off some poor soul who was stuck in the ditch where everyone had to shit. Soon he was on the move again to Southern Greece, via ship. They were hidden in the hold whenever British subs appeared so that they could not signal to them. Aboard the ship was a lot of British food from Tobruk which the Germans had absconded with. The lads would steal tins of green peas but they all got dysentery. Jack found a bottle of cod liver oil tablets and taking 1 a day helped improve his health. They continued up the Yugoslav Coast down the Italian Coast to Taranto in Southern Italy.
Here he worked in gangs on farms, helped build an olive oil factory out of limestone. He enjoyed the wine and cheese in Italy and the Red Cross parcels which they received. After a year with the allied invasion imminent they were transported like animals to Northern Italy by train. They spent a month in Trieste and then moved into Austria.
It was winter and snowy and his job was to remove buttons and unpick seams of sterilized clothing whilst there - the clothes of people (not just Jewish) who the
Germans had disposed of. Then he was sent to a camp called (8A) in Gorlitz, Germany. Rations were never enough and the men would cook up sugar beet with stolen sugar added to it for a bit of extra food. Jack worked in a sugar factory 2 miles from camp he walked each day there and back doing 12 hour shifts and sometimes 18 hour shifts. He was sent to solitary confinement several times whilst in Gorlitz once for grafitting a toilet door with a ,hammer and sickle. He got 3 days for that in a 9" x 6" cell. One visit per day his food ration being a bun and warm sugarless artificial coffee.
He practiced his dance steps and marked the wall each time he heard the town clock chime so he could record the days. After this a remand camp for two weeks where after a medical examination he was found fit for further punishment. Off to a German solders prison, which he quite enjoyed as
he received the same rations as the Germans and could not even eat all his meals. On return to Gorlitz there was more punishment - a quarry where twenty other prisoners loaded rocks onto trolleys or pushed trolleys. They went on strike one day and refused to come out of their huts - after three days a German Officer aimed a revolver at one of their heads - so they went back to work.
Jack and five mates decided to escape after hoarding up chocolate and cigarettes from Red Cross parcels. Managing to bribe a guard to leave a lock half shut, dressing in army clothes they escaped heading towards Switzerland. They were taken in by a kind German family and given nice food and put upstairs in a loft with lovely clean sheets but they were scared that if the family were caught harboring them they would be killed so they left and after a week their food supply ran out, it was cold and although they were close to the Swiss border they could go no further and surrendered. After being interrogated for two days they were separated. Jack was sent to a camp where the prisoners delivered wood
to a cellular wool factory (the wool was made from trees). Prisoners were not permitted in the factory. While there Jack became camp carpenter.
The United States entered the war and Jack and a mate escaped again. They were hiding in a barn eating raw potatoes, at nights sneaking out to a stream to get water. They had to hide under the straw when kids came to play, jumping up and down on the two mates.
Every day they noticed convoys passing, the two boys unsure as to whether it was Americans or Russians. One day an endless convoy approached it was the Yanks and Jack and his mate
joined them for two weeks. Along the way the Yanks gave them a beautiful car to drive to Paris in, there was a dead German at the steering wheel, and he got turfed out.
Then Jack was flown to Oldsberry in the United Kingdom and on to a recuperation camp at Margate for one month. Whilst on leave with a free rail pass Jack visited Scotland and had a game of golf. He arrived back in NZ in July 1945.