Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Scraper's Diary, Wednesday April 9th, 1947


Last night Gunner Say dropped a bottle of the scent I had bought on the black market and broke the cap. I therefore extorted forty cigarettes from him and gave him the bottle. I changed the cigarettes into 200 Marks.


Thursday, April 9th, 1947

Yesterday morning we walked round the town and found many lovely pieces of silver jewellery that we were far too impecunious to purchase. I bought a cigarette box and some German stamps from a little shop by the bridge. I walked into the shop intending to ask for pre-war stamps that showed Hitler's face; when I was inside I realised that I had no idea how to say this in German and the Philatelist seemed to understand neither English nor my efforts at speaking French. As this was probably the last opportunity I had to buy stamps, I scratched around in the remnants of my schoolboy Latin and tried that.  To my surprise and great delight he understood me and replied in Latin. Neither of us could be called fluent, by any stretch of the imagination; nevertheless, I successfully purchased the stamps I wanted.

The main shopping street here is incredibly quaint; one stretch of it is merely a cobblestone pavement about ten feet wide, with shops staring each other out on either side.

In the evening we received another Naafi ration of cigarettes, also our free issue of fifty. There was an immediate exodus to the station, and ninety percent of the cigarettes were disposed of.

After a cream cake supper in the Naafi, Mike and I went to the cinema, and we saw "Perfect Strangers".


Friday, April 11th, Cuxhavn

Baggage Room

I am sitting on top of a three-tier luggage rack in the baggage room at Cuxhavn docks. Rumour has it that we do not board ship until ten, so I shall endeavour to summarise the events of the past two days.
It's a difficult task, the light is poor, the seat is hard, and I have already been interrupted three times to enter into discussion with my fellow loafers, or to add an air of erudition to their impenetrable ignorance.

We visited Rendsburg station black market for the last time on Wednesday evening, and spent an amusing half hour inspecting the various goods that the Germans eagerly proffered us, without having any intention, or wherewithal, to purchase them. In a moment of absentmindedness I filled my pipe, and then, in a moment of weakness, offered my pouch to a labourer who had been earnestly drawing on an empty pipe for many minutes. I looked down and found a queue of four pipes waiting expectantly beside him. When they had all been satisfied and supplied with matches, I held up the pouch and said "100 Marks?" A bloke took it, punched it, prodded it, then tipped the contents onto the table. Having scratched around in this for a minute, shaking his head the while, he offered me thirty. I took thirty-five and kept the pouch.

The light is now worse, all that is shed on this paper being the willing rays of a 60 watt bulb some twelve feet away that has to illuminate fifteen feet the other side of itself. I doesn't seem to be concentrating on the job and the  fellows seem dim and vague, a crowd of meaningless shadows, drifting in infinite boredom.

Yesterday morning, we loaded the lorries, and drove to Kiel.

Mike, Len and I hitchhiked the laborious five miles into the town only to find that the shops were shut.

There was a string concert last night, which, considering that it was the first for three weeks, went well.
Supper was laid on for 9.30. We arrived at the cookhouse at 9.50 and found the place in darkness. We trooped up to the YMCA, which was also shut; we returned to the billet and packed the instruments with the loot in the boxes; we are now hoping and praying that these boxes pass through customs unopened, as band kit. Lights out at 11.30, after one or two altercations with late comers. Reveille this morning was at five.

Having an hour off this afternoon, Mike, Len and I went round the shops, in a desperate attempt to get rid of our last marks without suffering a loss. stamp shops seemed to be non-existent, so i bought two large, utterly unpackable wooden plates, only to stumble over two stamp shops five minutes later.

Now we are off to the Naafi gift shop, I have 10 shillings in my pocket.


  1. I'm really enjoying following the Scraper's doings!

  2. Scraper's tales are wonderful history and really reflect well with humor and warmth the times for these guys.

  3. Friko, you inhabit so many dimensions at once!
    You are a multi-faceted jewel. Boring? never, not to those with eyes to see :)

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  4. Ah, the wonderful 'Scraper'. His diary extracts are perfect to start my Sunday with. You know, I can see his exploits making excellent TV viewing.

  5. oh such a telling tale and so illuminating it is good to see that even the scraper had hours of tedious boredom!

  6. Have you bought any of the Naafi tea they're selling at the moment to raise money for 'Help for Heroes'?

  7. I don't know who the Scraper is [your husband maybe?] but with these diary excerpts I feel as though I'm right there beside him, he writes so well...

  8. Vicki Lane - tthank you, Vicki, his travels are almost at an end.

    Tabor - you are one those who has been faithful to him, thank you.

    Cloudia - flattery will get you anything. Aloha!

    Martin H - Sadly, I doubt it; not enough sex and violence.

    her at home - the whole trip must have been seriously boring.

    Fran - round here? you are kidding. where can you get it?

    Molly - thank you, Molly.


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