The reluctant benefit tourist.
This is a part of my life which I was reluctant to accept initially to come to the UK,having been forced to come as a POW. I wrote this piece many years ago and just came across it again.
It was a grey ,drizzly morning when we left the compound in Belgium.The year was 1946.We were taken to Antwerp where there were three boats waiting for us.We were sure they were to take us home to Germany.
We soon learned that we were to be taken to the UK,and all the soldiers that were running about were going home on leave or discharge.
Our journey across the sea did not take all that long. Many of my mates and some of our guards were seasick.I was fortunate not to suffer from seasickness.
Once we arrived at the other side we were assembled in a big hall at the harbour, the name of which I never discovered. There were long tables and we were handed cups of tea. That was our first free benefit in this land of milk and honey.
Our next journey took us by train to Scotland.the carriages were luxurious compared to what we had been used to in the past.The blinds were drawn and we were not allowed to open them during the journey.
No doubt the reason for that was that the authorities did not want the population to see all those benefit tourists coming into the country.
We arrived in Scotland just South of Edinburgh and we were ushered into very comfortable accommodation. It was like being in a holiday camp,and our rations were better then those of the civilian population at large.
We did not work,and were generally idling all day. What a benefit. After a while we were given a choice to volunteer for work on the land in England. Some of us did, and we were soon on our way South.
I worked on farms until 1948,when I was given a chance to remain in this country as a civilian worker. By that time I had used up all my free benefits and had to start earning a living, which I did.
You may well ask what benefits is he talking about? Well free food, free accommodation, free clothing, free health care and lots of other benefits.
Let me tell you,the greatest benefit to me was the experience of a different form of government.
I had been indoctrinated to be a good obedient citizen of a dictatorial state. Now, without any obvious indoctrination, I was experiencing free thought for the very first time in my young life.What a great free benefit.