Apart from the hour between 11 and 12 in the morning when adults were allowed to queue for bread and milk in the corner shop there was still a strict curfew for all villagers without special permission to leave their houses. We had water but no electricity and food was beginning to be very scarce. We had very little left in larder and cellar, although the soldiers had not stolen what there was; they were keener on drink than on food. Bread was available, the Americans had supplied flour for the bakers to continue baking bread. The lack of electricity meant that bakers had to knead the dough with their feet, in a wooden dough trough, and bake it in the old-fashioned brick ovens. Farmers were allowed to tend their cattle and fresh milk was delivered daily.
Mother hated to leave me alone in the house while she queued for food, she returned as soon as she could, never stopping to exchange news. She and I were rather isolated, without any means of communicating with anybody other than a quick word with neighbours over the fence in the garden. The gardens were not overlooked from the street but Mother lacked the courage to stay outside for long. You never knew when the next search party would arrive at the door and demand instant access.
Mother didn't know what had happened to Father. The fighting to the east of the village towards the nearest town on the left bank of the Rhine was still going on, we could hear artillery fire, the drone of aeroplanes; there was a lot of troop movement and tanks continued to rumble along Main Street on their way to the front.
Mother knew that Father was in a camp about 100 km to the north of us. At the beginning of the war he had been a dispatch rider, travelling between units on the Western Front. He never saw action; as luck or misfortune, whichever way one likes to look at it, would have, he was seriously injured by opportunist fire from a low flying enemy plane which spotted him crossing the yard at his overnight accommodation, while visiting the latrines at night, carrying a light; an action which was strictly forbidden.
Father was near death; it took many months before he could leave the field hospital; after that he was transferred to a hospital inside Germany. For the rest of his life he carried a large piece of shrapnel in his gut, too close to the spine to be operable. He was never fit for active service again.
He was, however, declared fit to serve as a guard at a forced labour camp. which held mainly Poles, where he spent the rest of his war.