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Janette Dams page 2

morning, and not only that, I got two bars of chocolate and it was rationed. It didn’t matter that it was plain chocolate which I didn’t like—it was an extra treat!
I used to go to the Manor, when the Leaches had it. Mrs Leach used to run a sort of girls' club one night a week, and one of the things she taught us was how to ring the hand-bells.

It was Christmas Eve 1946, and there was a whole group of us, because you need a lot of girls, and we were ringing the hand-bells and going round all the houses. We met up with a bunch of German prisoners of war and we thought we’d ring to them. When we played Silent Night, the tears ran down their cheeks. I was only fourteen at the time, and that sticks in my mind.
There must have been about 100 German prisoners of war arrived in this part of the world in August or September 1946. They came here to work on the beach and clear all the mines from Blakeney to Mundesley, and they took over the old army-camp which used to be where Catriona Court now stands, and before that Myngs Terrace. The R A F had it first, then the army. I think the POWs were in between the two. They were there for 15 months from August ‘46 to November ‘47, and the first winter they were there, the prisoners gave a party for all the younger children of Kelling School. They took them up to the camp here and every child had a toy—I know my sister Jasmine had a doll’s pram—and all the toys were made by the prisoners. They were very clever, they had wheels that went round and dolls’ houses and I remember a big round board with chickens on it pecking. That Christmas, there was an appeal over the radio and in the press: ‘If you have a Prisoner of War camp near you, invite a P O W into your house for Christmas’ and my mother—although we were six of us home at that time—she said, ‘We’ll invite somebody.’


My father used to act as trainer to the local Salthouse football team and he knew the chap who ran the football team for the German prisoners of war, so he said ‘We’ll have Paul’. My sister and I, we happened to know this one who had been a prisoner of war in America and spoke English with American slang—you can imagine can’t you—so we said ‘Can we have Helmut, Mother?’ and then mother said, ‘I’ll tell you what, we’ll have a third. That chap who plays the goal-keeper in their football team, we’ll invite him’ . . . so that was how I met my husband.

He came to the house for Christmas tea. I was going to be 15 in January, and I was 17 when we married. He was nine years older than me, but he looked very young, and he was very young in his outlook too. Eventually, after he finished here, he was moved away to another camp. He was still a prisoner of war for quite some time after that and I used to say to mother, ‘Could you write to the commander of his camp, and ask if Kurt could come down for Christmas?’ Then he’d come down for a couple of days . . . and I wouldn’t see him again for three or four months. But we kept in touch with letters, and eventually we got married. The war was over and I think the village people, individually, they liked the Germans who were here, but the war was very much in their minds still. Some people in the village had lost members of the family. To think that one of the village girls actually wanted to marry a German—that didn’t go down very well.
I remember people who I’d known all my life who looked the other way when I went past, and I remember one old lady who used to spit on the ground. But not everybody was like that, and we were very happily married for thirty-seven years.


The Salthouse Football Team 1949

Kurt is goal-keeper for the Salthouse football team, after the War
Standing, from the left

Wally Cooper, Janette's Dad trainer to the Salthouse football team, Ken Brown, Dan Harrison, Robin Cooke, Dougie Fuller, Kurt Dams (the goalie), Vic Holman, Tom Cooke, John Holman.

: Don Woodhouse (from Kelling), Laurence Woodhouse (from Kelling), Basil Holman, 'Tiddles' Woodhouse (from Kelling) and Charlie Holland.



Kurt Dams with their two boys

The POWs had the dangerous job of digging up the mines
from the beach. Here they are with a collection ready to be exploded
  Kurt with their two boys

                    Jannette with her seven brothers and sisters later on

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Val Fiddian 2005