Deadly encounter

He asked me if I knew how to use a grenade; he quickly showed me how and then gave me two. He told me to approach the barn from the back while he went in a line to where his comrade had fallen. I grabbed the grenades and rushed behind the barn. In my excitement I pulled the pin out of one of them and held it tightly. I went right round the barn but saw nothing. The Warrant Officer waved me towards the cemetery some 100 metres away. We both reached the cart and looked into it.

Under the straw there was a huge radio transmitter, our five Polish soldiers lay dead and, nearby were the bodies of two men dressed in Polish uniforms. The third one was nowhere to be seen. We ran back to the vicarage to telephone for help. By the time we got back, the wires from the set had been pulled out and the typewriter was missing. The Warrant Officer said to me, “That bastard was here. I know what he was doing, he took our coding machine.”

Then suddenly he stopped in mid-sentence and started screaming at me that I was a little so-and-so. He had just noticed that I was holding a grenade in my hand but the safety pin was missing. This was when I realised that grenades do not explode, even without the safety pin, providing you hold them tight and don’t let go of them. Frantically he started searching for a piece of string to secure my grenade but with no luck.

I suggested that I should throw the grenade into a big dip near the river behind a house. We went together to get rid of the damn thing, walking past an outside lavatory, which was just a deep hole in the ground with a wooden hut on top of it. Whilst we were walking past, we heard a sort of muffled splash as if something heavy had been dropped into the pit. As I threw the grenade away, the Warrant Officer shouted at the lavatory door asking who was in there. There was a big bang and his left arm flew backwards. "That son-of-a-bitch has shot me", he shouted. We both ran back into the kitchen through the back door. As the Warrant Officer rushed for a weapon I pulled my Mauser out, put the magazine into it and by the time he came back with the rifle I had emptied the whole magazine into the toilet through the kitchen window. The toilet door flew open and there was a dead man sitting there. The Warrant Officer could still see movement in the corpse and shouted to be careful in case he was still alive. He could not use his