Saturday, 17 October 2009

The Scraper's Diary, March 25th, 1947,

Wilhelmshaven ( continued )
The Writing Room, Church of Scotland,

Wilhelmshaven has been bombed quite efficiently, and is largely in ruins, at least, it is in the centre of the town, and by the docks.

Out of the window, in the tranquil air, I can see a few gaunt walls and grotesque brick remains, that are rapidly greying to silhouette. A church tower, sturdy, but gutted, points a purposeless finger at the urgent clouds and emphasizes the delicate tracery of the trees, black against a fading sky.

A lorry has pulled up in the street below and vomits soldiers and their profanations on to the pavement. They enter the canteen and are happily lost to hearing, and the scene assumes a strange peace, somehow a harmony, from its intrinsic decay and senility.

At Dusseldorf you left barracks, turned left, turned right, and thumbed a lift into the town, over two miles away. There were shops plentifully among the devastation.

At Dortmund you turned left, crossed a field, and turned left again, and then hitchhiked or walked the mile and a half to the centre, as you pleased, and there was scarcely anything but rubble in the centre.

At Osnabruck you turned right and hoped for a lift. It is two miles from barracks to town and though the town does not appear excessively damaged, there are few shops open there.

At Oldenburg the camp is but a mile from the town, where all shops are open, and full of many things to take home, if you have marks or cigarettes.

And here, at Wilhelmshaven, you leave barracks and scarcely any vehicles pass you as you walk the mile and a half into the uninteresting town.

However, we are only two in a room, and each room has running water.


  1. Tranquility and peace in the middle of the devastation. I can picture the spill of light from the open canteen door. The thought that luxury was two to a room and running water, though, makes it very real.

  2. That is so interesting to read. No one knows how things must have been without those diaries.

  3. The Scraper's diary certainly paints the lonely portrait of a man at war, struggling with the threat of death and the bare essentials of life. The lack of privacy and the intense loneliness must have been soul wounding.

  4. it was all so sad . . . my son gets this whole piece of how there are no winners in any war . . . i remember being in a koln and seeing the old church tagged with spray painted anti r.a.f. comments - in the early 1970's. that made it all real for me. steven

  5. Friko you are up early. I would love to know the history of this diary it is fascinating stuff. Will you point me in the right direction to find out more about this scraper and where the diary came from?

  6. Hi Friko

    Another excellent extract from The Scraper's Diary. There's so much to consider in these 'bite-sized' pieces. I very much look forward to reading more.

  7. It’s very enjoyable to leave my road and walk down memory lane with your Scraper’s diary

  8. 'However, we are only two in a room, and each room has running water.'

    The human power to accept certain fates knows no limits. Thanks for this post.

    Greetings from London.

  9. Hi,
    Please visit my blog and pick up your award.

  10. Pondside - not a good time

    QMM - it is good thing that people bother to write them. Nowadays our blogs are our diaries

    Bonnie - I wish there were no need for soldiering ever again

    steven - I wonder why that was still there in 1970, was it new?

    her at home - of course I will

    MartinH - thank you, there will be more

    Vagabonde - thank you for coming over

    A Cuban - If you must, you must

    Unseen Rajasthan - It's very good of you to come all this way, thank you

    Herrad - thank you, I will

  11. I really enjoyed reading this. I love your description of the bombed town, particularly the church tower.

  12. The post war devastation in Germany must have seemed overwhelming, at least it felt so to my Aunt and her family. Very sad and unpredictable times. The words "bombed efficiently" are very cold and unfeeling. Thank you for sharing this insight, Friko.

  13. Hi Friko - Thanks for commenting on my new blog layout. You can do it! Go to dashboard then choose layout and then choose New Template. Click on one you like and beneath is a Preview button. If you like it click on Save Template. Thats it! if you change your mind just do the same again to choose a different one. Hope it works. I am enjoying Scraper's Diary.

  14. I think my father in law was stationed at Osnabruck after the war but I am not sure when. I will ask.
    An interesting read.

  15. Hi Friko. Your best diary so far. I really enjoyed the writing. Very well done.


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