Tyers, Alfred (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 31694
Department
Sound
Production date
2008
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 720, Number Of Items 24
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

Purchase & License
Object description

British private served with Durham Light Infantry Depot in GB, 1940; NCO served with Infantry Base Depot in France, 1940; served with 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry in France, 1940; POW in Germany, 1940- 1945; private served with Durham Light Infantry and Royal Engineers in GB from 1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Badajoz, Co Durham, GB, 1918-1940: family including reasons for living with grandmother; details of family home; work on farm as child; background and memories of grandmother; memories of childhood including education in Satley; shopping at Co-Op in Tow Law; leisure activities; discipline; further memories of childhood; education; details of civilian work on farm; civilian work at Wolsingham Steel Works including relationship with colleagues and work making shell cases. REEL 2 Continues: work making shell cases including details of pay; reason for leaving steel works; civilian work at Wolsingham Sawmills; other jobs worked including in quarry; leisure activities; civilian work as apprentice stonemason; awareness of and reflections on events in GB and Germany between wars. REEL 3 Continues: reaction to outbreak of war and early Naval events of war; process of joining army in Durham, 12/1940; arrival and contents of call-up papers; reaction of parents; journey to Brancepeth. Aspects of period as private with Durham Light Infantry Depot in GB, 1/1940-5/1940: uniform issued; return home with civilian clothes; first meal in army; march to Willington; accommodation; sleeping arrangements; parade ground; morning procedures; breakfast; utensils issued; physical training; Salvation Army presence; washing facilities; reaction to situation; story of reprimand for not shaving; details of hospitalisation with pneumonia in Brancepeth Castle; posting to medicine and duties; details of training; visits to cinema; march to New Brancepeth; accommodation; pattern of training; description and opinion of bayonet training; opinion of training in general; story of accident during bayonet training. REEL 4 Continues: details of firing course on Whitburn ranges; embarkation leave; story of late return following recall including learning to dig trenches and events on arrival. Aspects of period in transit from Durham, GB, to Rouen, France, 5/1940: march to Durham station; details of journey to Hartlepool; accommodation; breakfast; issue and testing of anti-gas equipment; train journey to Southampton including stop-off at Union Jack Club; activities on docks including issue of French money; reaction to posting abroad; voyage to Cherbourg including escort from Isle of Wight; activities on arrival including first impressions; reactions to possibility of facing action; train journey to Rouen including rations. Aspects of period as private with Infantry Base Depot in France, 5/1940: scenes on arrival; march to base depot; accommodation; sorting into sections and selection leader; first duties; evening activities; visit to stores and duties given to section. REEL 5 Continues: support given to Royal Engineers including withdrawal to Arras. Aspects of operations as NCO with 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry in France, 5/1940-6/1940: news of counter attack; troops present at Arras; supporting units; initial opposition faced; shelling of German positions; advance and POWs taken; description of German counter attack and withdrawal; surrender of French and Belgian troops; details of withdrawal through and beyond Arras; formation of composite battalion; details of duties at observation post in Saint-Omer; knowledge of situation in France; withdrawal to Dunkirk; scenes on beaches and in docks; attacks from Junkers Ju-87 Stukas; reactions to situation; evidence of looting; refusal of places to refugees; morale; arrival of troops and tanks; disposal of vehicles; news of Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister. REEL 6 Continues: knowledge of wider events; opinion of Winston Churchill; duties on docks; news from GB; parade and orders received to face Germans; reaction to orders; details of march out from Dunkirk; discovery of abandoned British camp and items gained; instructions for defence against air attacks; movement of march; description of attack from aircraft; medical treatment given to wounded; raid on farmhouse; movement along coast; role of battalion; burial of Bren tripod; evacuation of wounded; contact with French artillerymen and information gained; rations found; story of reconnaissance patrol taken into town; scenes of refugees; march to farm; positions dug; details of fire fight with German troops. REEL 7 Continues: information gained later from German troops; departure of farmer; continuing support from Royal Navy; disposal of Bren; situation following action; sighting of flares; decision to discover source of flares; orders given to patrol; information gained from chateau; movement forward from chateau toward flares including plan for evacuation; story of wounding and capture. Aspects of period as POW in transit, 6/1940: march away including reactions to capture; interrogation from German officer; handover of personal possessions; reactions to situation; march to and scenes inside church; medical treatment received; arrival of and talk with British POWs; population of church; socks gained from German medical staff; shelling of church and shelter taken; reactions to situation; fresh shelling and casualties; evacuation from church; contact made with French medics and German troops; scenes of wounded and their treatment. REEL 8 Continues: physical state; scenes of transport and infantry in area; talk with infantryman including German knowledge of situation; information gained from British POWs including reactions to situation and journey to Amiens; medical treatment received; details of French POWs in barracks nearby; march to railway station; conditions during train journey via Luxembourg to Trier; story of march through town; details of camp and POWs present; talk from German officer; sleeping arrangements. REEL 9 Continues: rations received before leaving Trier; train journey across Germany including latrines and rations; activities during stop in Berlin including contact with Red Cross nurses; journey to Thorun and march through town. Aspects of period as POW in Stalag XX A, Germany, 6/1940-9/1940: details of camp; processing on arrival; division of bread ration; description of Fort 15; sleeping arrangements; background of POWs; further details of fort and processing; clothing situation; air activity; climate; rations; knowledge of war; organisation in camp; washing facilities; division and care taken of bread ration; hunger; defences around camp. REEL 10 Continues: treatment from guards including selection for work camp. Aspects of period as POW in Tiegenhof, Germany, 9/1940-12/1941: journey to farm in Tiegenhof; non-working POWs with party; accommodation; sleeping arrangements; division of POWs between farms; POWs posted with; reception on arrival at farm including first meal; sleeping arrangements; memories of guard from Alsace-Lorraine; details of work on pea harvest including memories of civilian colleagues and rations; illness and death of Lancashire Fusilier POW nicknamed Puck. REEL 11 Continues: further details of Puck's illness and death including threat of strike; story of being hit by farmer; relationship with civilians including between fellow POW, Ally McDonald, and various civilians; work on rye harvest; decision to remain disciplined; gaining and passing on news of war's progress; morale; problems with making an escape successful; relationship with civilian children; knowledge of wider events; story of train carrying Hitler; story of troops passing through Tiegenhof including civilian attitude to Russians; knowledge of Greece Campaign; details of pay. REEL 12 Continues: items bought with pay; air activity; sounds of gunfire at start of German invasion of Russia; civilian morale; winter conditions; knowledge of events on Eastern Front; arrival and sources of Red Cross parcels; contents and distribution of parcels; bartering with guards; rations; evening activities; background to movement away from farm; march to new farm, 11/1941; details of period on second farm; refusal to work and reaction of farmer; clothing and mail situation; code used in Ally McDonald's letters. REEL 13 Continues: train journey to Stalag XX B at Marienburg. Aspects of period as POW in Stalag XX B and various Arbeitskommando, Germany, 12/1941-11/1944: reception on arrival; description of work in sugar beet factory including treatment of Russian POWs; sugar allowance and searches on leaving factory; accommodation including heating; washing facilities; ersatz coffee; details of roll calls; rations; thoughts and conversations about food; eating of bread ration; leisure activities and cigarettes; parcel received from home; bartering with guards; collection of rations from Marienburg; suicides among POWs; story of search for missing POW after roll call; effect on morale of news from war; maintenance of discipline; hospitalisation; Russian air raids. REEL 14 Continues: weather; journey to forest working camp, 2/1942; details of camp; reception on arrival; morning procedures; climate; details of work and own non-cooperation including problems with clogs; rations; uses of timber including exhibition in local town; method of escape; walk away from camp and into Luftwaffe training camp; talk with guard; continuation of walk toward town; capture and handover to military; interrogation from German officer. REEL 15 Continues: treatment from Germans; march to prison; reception on arrival including plans for escape; period in civilian prison including rations; scenes of displaced people at station; train journey to Marienburg; details of the bunker; court martial; description of period in the bunker including rations; medical check after release; later periods in and effects of the bunker; back issue of Red Cross parcels; sharing Red Cross parcels contents; posting to farm near Riesenburg; make-up of colleagues; details of farm and farmer; accommodation; first night on farm; memories of fellow POWs; decision to escape; burial of family dog. REEL 16 Continues: rations; treatment of Polish workers; issue of Red Cross parcels and mail; attitude to working parties; hospitalisation in Marienburg with fake complaint including methods used by British POWs to avoid work; details of working party alongside canals; story of POW strike; return to hospital with fake complaint; posting to forest working party; description of walk away from camp including rations; story of French workers; arrival in coastal town; story of talk with civilian. REEL 17 Continues: details of railway working party; description of camp; journey to work; breakfast and sleeping arrangements; female workers in area; description of work undertaken including acts of sabotage and breaks; own duties on site; imaginary games played to delay work; return journey to camp including search on arrival; dinner; evening activities; story of fight with Irish POW; German attempts to enlist Irish POWs; period worked on railway; story of fight between POW and German guard, 7/1943; details of subsequent strike and results. REEL 18 Continues: story of travelling to camp in ration truck and smuggling of margarine into camp; German attempts to regain missing items including hiding places; details of punishments given including story of clearing latrines; result of letters written by a POW to the International Red Cross; background of guards; gaining knowledge of war's progress; return to hospital in Marienburg; parade and presence of Italian POWs; story of air raid, 9/1943; clearance of bomb damage including casualties. REEL 19 Continues: return to railway working camp; confusion over presence of Italian POWs including German opinion of Italian troops; assistance given to wounded German troops from Stalingrad; details of work on railway; importance of Red Cross parcels. Aspects of period as POW in transit through Germany, 11/1944-5/1945: weather conditions; news of journey west; preparations for journey; departure from camp and start of march west; details of march including sleeping arrangements; air activity; rations and accommodation gained on farm; movement of march; route taken; contact with retreating German Army and crossing of Vistula; destination of march; shelter taken from snowstorm, 1/1945; conditions underfoot, 2/1945; dealing with casualties; air activity; refugees on road including story of stampede; rumours about Russians; shelter taken on farm; arrival in POW Camp near Belgard, Stalag Luft IV. REEL 20 Continues: details of Stalag Luft IV; reception on arrival; accommodation; medical treatment; journey to port town including importance of tea; accommodation; division of Red Cross parcels; crossing of Elbe; march to Stendal; accommodation with American POWs; work clearing bomb damage at railway station; rations including story of carrot train and air raids; length of period in Stendal; details of bomb damage; looting in town; rumour of handover to Americans; signs of battle departure from Stendal; contact with American POWs including rations gained; continuation of march and collapse in ditch; scenes of departing column; help gained from Americans and walk to forest including scenes of battle; arrival in forest and shelter taken; quiet during night. REEL 21 Continues: situation in forest including method of digging-in; rations; description of Allied air raids; search for water including determination to not surrender and mental state; story of transport column; signs of tanks; decision to surrender; movement out of forest; contact with Germans and knowledge gained; scenes in area; contact with German civilians; collection by Americans; scenes of German and Allied POWs; reaction to situation; story of American NCO offering guard duty work; accommodation allocated; haircut and shave. REEL 22 Continues: rations and subsequent problems with stomach; walks around town including story of Messerschmitt attack; desertion of town; story of journey to join POW column; story of night with civilians; disappearance of column in morning; story of journey to find POW column including surrender taken from German airmen and lift gained from civilians; directions gained from Americans; reception on arrival at US Headquarters; journey with German officer POWs including details of guard and demands made by a POW; end of journey and directions given; arrival in and state of Brunswick; activity on streets. REEL 23 Continues: walk to barracks; reception on arrival; state of barracks; events during wait for flight away from Brunswick including visits to local farms; orders given for journey to Hamburg; drive to Hamburg area; details of camp arrived at; allocation of flight number and wait for departure; description of Douglas Dakota flight to Brussels; mental state; processing on arrival; visit to Brussels; activities during wait for flight to GB including on airfield; talk with pilot before flight; story of Avro Lancaster flight to RAF Abingdon. Aspects of period as private with Durham Light Infantry and Royal Engineers in GB, 1945: debriefing in High Wycombe; exchange of money and processing; activities in High Wycombe; division into medical grading; posting given to each grade. REEL 24 Continues: details of leave; reception on arrival home; details of journey home including problems with mental state; marriage, 26/5/1945; problems settling into civilian life; story of train journey to Pangbourn; details of posting with Royal Engineers as billet orderly; granting of compassionate leave; return to unit and period in Wantage; breakdown and hospitalisation in Oxford; story of visit to cinema and to Auxiliary Territorial Service units; demobilisation on medical grounds; mental state. Aspects of period as civilian in GB from 1945: return home; ongoing medical treatment in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; registration as disabled; civilian work and details of pension.

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