“School children were encouraged to work on the land during the summer holidays, and I, along with friends, went to work for Nell Brothers in Woolram Wygate… At Nell Brothers I met my first Germans, and I remember how drab they looked in their dark grey prisoner-of-war uniforms. We were not supposed to even talk to them, but we did, and the men were friendly and nice; one told me that in peacetime, he had worked in a bank. Later, I was telling my mother and father about chatting to the Germans and my father told me he had also spoken to one on a railway station when he, father, had been waiting for an engine to arrive. The German had just been to the dentist and was with an army escort. Father gave him a cigarette and they chatted about the First World War, where my father and the German’s father had both fought; they could hardly believe that it was happening all over again. So I did not get into trouble from my parents for breaking the rule of ‘not fraternising with the Germans’!”
“Christmas 1944 arrived… on Christmas morning I went to a United service at the Baptist Chapel. Before the service began the Minister told us that in the congregation that morning was a choir from the German prisoner-of-war camp, which was at Fulney. During the service the choir would sing a carol, ‘Silent Night, Holy Night,’ and it was to be sung in German…the whole congregation was absolutely still as we listened to this most beautiful carol. It was the first time I had heard it, and I am certain many thoughts were like mine – why war? After the music had died away, the minister prayed that all men and women would soon be free to return to their own homes in peace. The ‘Amen’ to that was heartfelt and without exception.”
Extracts from “Memories of Spalding 1933 – 1953 Growing Up in my Fenland Town” by Joy Hanes Ferguson.