Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 7, No. 7 July 26, 1944
Comes he from Salamanca?
Comes he from Salamanca?
Salient met affable, fair-moustached Signalman Cyril, ex-V.U.C., in the Terminus. Likes a pot, talks easily when drinking.
Captured after a year in Egypt and Syria, during a night attack by the British (then up to Alemein), in a nine-month camp-shifting tour he saw Benghazi, Tripoli and Camp 75, close to Naples; looked in at Tutorano's Camp 85; finally settled at a New Zealand working camp (78/1), overlooking the recently important Pescaro valley and river. His comments on the camp: "Conditions in general very good, and the Italians sufficiently kind. Our main problem—food. Until Red Cross parcels became regular, we fed poorly in all but the working camps (double rations)." Cyril emphasised the importance of these parcels, hoped this was sufficiently understood at home.
With the armistice on 8th September, Italian guards were pleased but bewildered; two days later sloped off to their families. Over-ruling protests of loud-voiced officers, our boys walked out. Advised and assisted by the local populace, they hid around the then German-free area. Two weeks later Jerry turned up, recaptured many. The rest trickled south, early in October; Cyril and his pals travelling in uniform were picked up by a German ack-ack team, 15 miles north of the British lines.
It look an interview with a Crete-campaigning Major-General, who had met New Zealanders before, to establish them as ex-prisoners, not paratroops. The Germans returned them to Camp 21, at Chieti. This was fortunate. Ex-prisoners had built an efficient escape tunnel, unknown to the camp authorities, known to a British naval commander travelling with Cyril. The attempt was made, but the tunnel had collapsed. Then they tried low cunning, lying in their foxhole for four days. When the hue-and-cry was over and the guards relaxed, the Anzacs climbed over a wall and made for their Italian friends near the Popoli Pass and 78/1. Installed and fed in mountain caves, they waited for the nearing artillery to reach and pass them. Three months later they were still waiting: it was evident that a winter line had been established; the mountain must go to Mahomet. After three more snow-bound months, early in March, a guide of the Italian underground ran them through the lines. By the 20th they were in British hands on the Adriatic front.
The village below the cave-dwellers was Austrian-held. Treason flourished, desertions were rife. Among the escaped prisoners in the hills was a student of Vienna University; he was recaptured, publicly shot in the village square. His last ringing, memorable words: 'I am not a German, but an Austrian; I am not a traitor, but a patriot. Long live Austria.'
Another deserter, knowing the mountains, offered guidance to the British; the snow alone prevented it.
Our signaller's message: 'We owe our escape to Italian peasants and town dwellers. In spite of the death penalty for whole families, in spite of a completely German-controlled food supply, a British P.O.W. is sure of food, shelter, and assistance in an Italian home."
Untidiness and Vandalism
Dick Daniell reported that some irresponsible, infantile persons were eating their lunches in the Gym. and leaving paper on the floor and halfeaten sandwiches under the seats. "I thought they taught them tidiness at High School," said Jack Barr. "Yes, it's the Primary School type that leave them," said Jack. During a discussion of Social Committee grants, the Exec. was told that one of the sports clubs was in the habit of putting the forms outside while practising. As a result, many had been ruined by the rain, wind and snow. "This vandalism must stop," said the Exec., and action is to be taken against the culprits.
As the result of a motion by Margaret Beattie, the committee of the Wellington Public Library will be written to, regretting the curtailment of hours, and hoping they will soon increase them again. An N.Z.U.S.A. report from Gib Bogle announced that Joynt Scroll would be held this year at Lincoln, and Bledisloe Medal in Wellington. The Debating Club is to deal with these matters.
The meeting closed with a discussion on I.S.S. finance. Stan Campbell suggested a Sunday night concert, and Margaret Orr agreed to pass the idea on to her committee.
Bob Anderson sends news of the many other boys he sees in the Base Hospital at Bari. Peter Mitchell has been seen there and also Wilf Watson and Gordon Stuckey, who was reported wounded lately.
The following is an extract from a letter from Gnr. R. J. Larkin, which will be of more interest to older students but does show that V.U.C. lives even in the Middle East:—
"We had a jolly good trip over — Brian Vickerman and Thaddy McCarty (both reverted to sergeant's rank) were together with Norm Russell, some of Wellington's legal fraternity who travelled in much the same luxurious state as I did. In Maadi we were welcomed by Jim Garbett and Cam Wylie—both captains in administrative jobs. Bart Cahill, who preceded us, is a corporal (reverted from his Territorial commission) and feeling rather like Rip Van Winkle as he'd been held back for courses on intelligence work, courts-martial and so on—he has had so many briefs as defending counsel that he farmed one cut on me—a sure sign of desperation! I need hardly add that my victim was given 90 days even after I'd said all I properly could on his behalf plus a terrible lot more that any self-respecting S.M. would consider proper!
"Here at advanced base I've met Harry Arndt and Sandford of the Cricket Club. Harry is legal sergeant and Sandy is a W.O. in the Archives Section, as is also Doug Edwards. Dick Connell, who just recently was again gazetted after dropping his pip to come over here, had Harry, Doug and Sandy along for a brew in his tent when he knew I was here—very thoughtful of him as it's difficult to see everybody you'd like for long enough to exchange news. It was a great experience to hear how Doug Edwards met a chap looking like a cook until he found it was Lt.-Col. J. L. MacDuff, M.C., and how Dick Simpson as a G3 at Div. H.Q. was working out a problem relating to the mule transport of a battalion and how well John White and Dick Wild were doing, and Dennis Blundell.
From other parts of the world we hear that Bruce Mason, after a week in the Soviet Union between convoys, is now taking a course in Japanese in Britain for a liaison officer job.
Note.—We are still keen to receive excerpts or letters from any student overseas. Letters written to individuals are our main source of information.