Work Camp 1203 L

Location: Gradisch

Type of work: Forestry

Man of Confidence: Eric Shaw, Duncan McKenzie

Number of Men: 12 approx.

Known to be present

Forename
Surname
Rank
Unit
POW
Comments
G.L. (Tiny) Barker Tpr NZ Div. Cav. 118 Christchurch, New Zealand
Les (Nobby) Clarke Sgt 2NZEF 5691 New Zealand
Charlie H. Manning WO2 RAOC 2330 Transferred to Stalag 383
Duncan McKenzie Sgt 2NZEF 658 New Zealand
Bob Morton        
Jack Mullin Cpl RAC 2069 Queen's Own Hussars; transf'd to Stalag 344
Bill Perry       Dunedin, NZ
C. (Dinky) Ricketts Sgt RAC 1907 Transf'd to Stalag 344; also 2124/L
Eric (Gerry) Shaw Sgt RAC 1906 Capt'd Greece; also 924/GW?, 2124/L
G Scott Sgt RAVC 2055  
R Stanton BSM RA 5899?  
Jack R. Webb Spr NZ Eng. 184 Aukland, New Zealand; also 10030/GW
Harry Williamson Sgt 2/8 Inf. Bn. 3600 Australia; transferred to Stalag 18C?

The following are extracts from the diaries of Sgt Duncan McKenzie, 2NZEF, and Sgt Eric Shaw, RAC.

Duncan McKenzie

With the coming of spring (1942) this life of hibernation in the lager (Stalag 18A) became a bit off. Sap rising or something. So when Harry (Williamson?) came in in a hell of a stew and asked me to go on a working party - only 10 men - all N.C.O.s, all volunteers on a country job - I put my name down - to give it a trial.

So here we are now at Gradisch, working for the Graf Johann Anton Goess - and really living a life of comparative luxury and selfrespect [sic] - for gefangeners.

We came, the ten of us, - Bob Morton - before mentioned at Corinth - Harry Williamson of Aussie, Charlie Manning R.A.O.C.[,] R Stanton R.A.; “Dinkie” Ricketts and “Jerry” Shaw R. Tanks; Jack Mullin Queen’s Own; Jock Scott of the “Remounts”; Les Clarke N.Z.A.C. and myself. We came to try it out and we’re still here - most of us - 7 months after and seem likely to stay here till something happens - or we are kicked out!

It turned out to be timber work felling etc. which is “right up my alley”. The rest of the gang, especially the “tommies” had never seen an axe or a saw before, but they soon learnt, and are now passable bushmen.

Our lager was, and is in a house, or at least half a house, the rest being occupied by a “Frau” and her three kiddies, whose “Mann” is in France, with the “Luftwaffe”.

We supplied our own cook, my mate Harry Williamson falling for the job by reason of his wounded legs. A good job he has and is making of it too!

Rations were a bit messed up for the start, everyone seeming to want a cut at them, but no one wanting to be responsible. Now the “Grafin” or countess draws all our cards and we collect our own “Lebensmittel” etc. from Feldkirchen every week or month as they fall due. Now-a-days with our Red Cross Packets and Deutsch rations, we live very well indeed!

Our first defaulter, was Charlie Manning W.O.2 of Ordnance who went back to Stalag with a badly cut hand. We got, to replace him, another Kiwi by the name of Bill Perry, of Dunedin.

Bill, and Bob Morton, shortly after, decided to try for the border. After much preparation they got clear of the camp one dull evening. Unfortunately after 5 days on the hike they were picked up about 15 kilo’s away from where they started! Of course after they did their spot of clink Bill as a Pte would have to go to another camp and I believe Bob went to some Stalag well up in Germany with the rest of the non-working N.C.O.s.

These two were replaced by two more N.Zeders “Tiny[”] Barker, Trooper of the Div. Cav. of Christchurch and Jack Webb of Auckland late of the 6th field Coy. To date our strength is one down as our man-of-confidence Jerry Shaw is back in Stalag with suspected appendicitis.

In his absence I’ve fallen for his job - by vote - of “Vertrounsmann” or man-of-confidence. This job in all lagers is in practice, sort of camp leader and spokesman and general intermediary between the gefangeners and the Deutsch. One is repaid for a certain amount of discipline? For all Red Cross issues, replacements of clothes and all such matters.

Last week we obtained a new Kdo. Fuhrer (we have only two guards) and I’ve been pretty busy helping him out with his books. As in our own army every detail has to go on paper. When he could not make head nor tail of any thing new or his predecessors writing or books, he howled for Max! or the “Vertrounsman”. Not that I can read Deutsch very well or even speak it with any great fluency, but my mere presence seemed to give him moral support and between us we got everything squared up for the dreaded (by him) visit of the Feldwebel and Oberleutnant.

Yes the dread secret is out! I am known to the inhabitants of this part of Austria as “Max” or “Maxie”. It’s the best the Deutsch tongue can do with my common nickname of Mac. The “Holzmeister”, or bush boss, even goes so far as calling me “Maximillian” occasionaly [sic] - after some old Kaiser or other!

Between us - mostly by Les (“Nobby”) Clarke and myself - we’ve scrounged bits of board, nails, whitewash, cement etc. and built and messed around; till we’ve got our home pretty comfortable. Our latest job was last Sunday, when we built a bathroom in a shed out the back.

We’ve no barbed wire compound at all here; and, within bounds, can wander about the environs pretty freely. When we came here we put in a garden and believe me we got some great crops particularly of tomatoes, marrows, peas, beans and cabbage, and so many cucumbers, we could not keep up with them and quite a few went woody on us.

The winter is comming [sic] on fast, though to date Nov. 17th we’ve had no snow (last year we had our first fall on October 12th or 13th[)]. For all that I guess we’ll be able to see it through in better comfort than we did last year!

3/12/42 Made the trip to Stalag and back yesterday 27 hrs travelling, and am pretty tired today. Went in as Man-of-Confidence to speak to our Chief-man-of-Confidence on behalf of the lads. This job I still hold down, though Jerry Shaw came back from Stalag last week.

Got everything fixed up with the M. of C. all right, and also renewed my determination to keep out of that lager as long as possible. With winter comming [sic] on that place looked damn miserable! It was snowing -merely a skiff - round from Zeltweg to Wolfsberg and as far back, on the return trip as Unterdrauburg. Am afraid it will follow suit here within the next few days as there is a distinct thaw on right now - a bad sign!

26/12/42 Christmas went well yesterday, apart from a little unpleasantness between myself and the Kdo Führer, which I more or less patched up this morning; things went rather well. We had a slap up Xmas dinner with all the trimmings, including a surfeit of pork acquired in payment of my ability to use a butcher knife.

Quantities of our home made “power plus” cider furnished the necessary stimulus, and things went with a bang. (It was no fault of mine that the bang was not caused by a lethal weapon!)

It has started to snow, so it looks as if the winter - long delayed - is setting in.

3rd Jan 1943 All good things come to an end, and now we find ourselves at Ossiacher See, settling in to a new camp and not liking it! On New Years Eve; the Zugs Führer, a feldwebel called Fink, (who does not like us very much) turned up; and after demanding the ear of the Vertrauensmann [sic], informed us the camp was to be closed up - for good! We were to move on the 2ndof Jan. Just like that!

However we got packed up and said our good byes and sallied forth, leaving half the local population in tears. (The sight of male humans in tears seems revolting to me!) Female tears don’t seem so bad - panders to our male vanity perhaps?

This joint is about 20 kilometers from our old place and on the lake “Ossiachersee”, which we crossed in rowboats worked by a couple of charming lassies, Pepe and Mitzie. We are not much enamoured of our new home, there are about [20?] chaps here already and the accommodation is very cramped. There is about 2 feet of snow all round the lager, and a hell of a miserable looking forest behind us!

(Information supplied by his son, also Duncan McKenzie.)

Eric Shaw

Tuesday 21st April 1942

Well its been over a month since last writing my diary, and since then Dinkie and I have been getting a bit fed up with nothing much to do. So yesterday when they came round for ten men to go out on a new job, we volunteered. Today after a most enjoyable trip through the Austrian mountains we arrived at our new job. We are billeted in a farmhouse well up in the mountains. More tomorrow.

Wednesday 22nd April;

Today we’ve been busy in our new billet. We are a bit cramped in our sleeping quarters, but we have a big kitchen and a big stove and boiler, so everything is more or less ‘hunky dory’. We have two guards and as all the ten of us are NCOs, we don’t get warned very much.

Thursday;

We started our work today. We have been planting young pine trees on the mountain side, quite an easy job but tiring on the legs. We work from 7 till 11, two hours for dinner, then 1 till 5, not a bad job at all. We have one of the chaps, an Australian named Harry Williamson for Cook, and he’s making a damn good job of it too.

Friday;

Today we were planting trees on the top of our mountain, the Austrian chap in charge said we were 1000 metres high, that is about 3250 ft. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We are not ‘slave driven’ at all, but we do a fair amount of work.

Saturday;

Gee talk about a holiday! We finished the plants we had this morning about 9.30. So the ‘Gaffer’ took us round the mountain to show us the sights. Believe me they are wonderful, this Austrian country is worth seeing. We work for a Count P, and he and his family all speak a little English. They are really fine people, and they treat us all with respect. Apparently they have been visited by The Prince of Wales in their castle, which by the way, we visit every night to draw our daily ration of milk. This evening we went up there and they gave us a big 6ft bath, which we have fixed up in the woodshed. This is definitely the best way we have been treated as POWs.

Sunday;

Had a real English breakfast this morning. Dinkie and I scrounged two eggs, so with the tin of bacon and a tin of tomatoes we had in our parcels, we had bacon, tomatoes, and fried eggs, followed by bread and marmalade. All we needed was The People or The News of The World.

Sunday 3rd May;

Things are going on fairly well here. Our only grouse is we have very little bread, but we are expecting to get more from Tuesday May 5th. Well a little more news of our camp. Last week the Countess gave us a gramophone with half a dozen records, and believe me we have given that music some overtime during the last week. Last Tuesday night it started snowing hard and by Wednesday morning it was pretty thick, so that put a stop to our mountain work. So we worked in the big woodshed, sawing great logs and chopping wood. On Thursday I was chopping wood, when the handle of my axe caught on the block and deflected the blade onto my left hand. I got a pretty deep wound and couldn’t use my thumb on Friday morning. I went into Feldkirchen about four miles away to see the Doc. He fixed my hand up, and apparently I had severed a tendon to my thumb, its all strapped up now, and should be OK soon.

We’ve still got the snow with us, but it looks as though a change has set in today, so we should see the fine weather again soon.

May 23rd;

Well, I’ve not entered much in this diary this last month. Things have been going fairly well though. The weather has been glorious except for a few thunderstorms. All of us are quite brown now. The work is pretty hard, but we manage to scrounge now and then. Trouble is we have had no Red Cross parcels this month. But I’ve had a bit of luck, had 3 parcels of tobacco from Nan bless her heart, how I love that gal, and two packets from the Regiment. Mail here is OK, I’ve had two a week since I got here. A line or two about our work. We’ve finished planting the new trees, and now we are down to the hard work, felling and stripping trees. It is hard work, but the climb up the mountainside is a job in itself. We take our bit of dinner up there with us. My thumb has healed up, but I am afraid I’ve lost part use of it, I must have severed the tendon. By the way, we’ve our own bit of garden, we’ve fenced it round so that no stray deer can get in. We’ve got peas, lettuce, marrows, cabbages etc. So in a few weeks time we should be enjoying the fruits of our garden. There are also tons of wild fruits up in these mountains. I don’t know the name of them, but our civvy Foremen (decent old chaps), assure us that these fruits are the goods. One other thing, we’ve gone for a walk with ‘Steve’ our guard every Sunday night. Quite a change from other camps, no barbed wire thank God! We asked if we could get a football or something for a bit of sport at the weekends. Blow me down, the Count said we could use his tennis court on Saturdays, and he would supply the racquets and balls. We had our first game today. Eight of the ten of us went up to the castle, and we had from 1 till 4.30 playing tennis. Remembering the situation we are in, it was a pretty marvellous afternoon. Well that’s all I can think of just now, see what news I’ve got next time I sit down to write my diary.

June 7th;

Well things are going much as usual, only better so if anything. We had our Red Cross parcels again last week after being without for a month. Life isn’t too bad now, the only thing missing is my Nan, bless that kid, how I love her. Anyway as my Darling isn’t with me I must make the best of my life as I can until we are together again, and then my life and happiness will be complete. However, about this camp of ours. Our cook Harry, turns us up some first rate grub now the parcels are here. We hand in all our dry stuff, that is, raisins, porridge, Oxo Cubes etc, and then with Jerry rations, he sure makes us good grub. The weather here is perfect and I’m feeling really OK. The work as I’ve said before, is fairly hard, but up there on the ‘Berg’ the air is first rate. This weekend has been grand. Saturday afternoon after we had finished washing and had our baths, we all went for a swim in one of the numerous small lakes there are round here. Gee it was lovely. Then this afternoon (Sunday), after 3 or 4 hours of tennis, we ended up having another dip. For POWs I think this life beats the band. That’s all for now, except I wish this war was over, I want my ‘missus’!

Monday June 22nd 1942;

MANY HAPPY RETURNS Nan darling, 32 today and I love you more and more. I have been POW for two of your birthdays now, I only hope I am free to be with you for your next one. We’ve loved each other so long sweetheart and yet we have had more than our share of partings. The old saying “true love never runs smooth” is a truism in our case anyway. But dear, we’ll make up for lost time one of these days.

As long as we are together, that’s all the happiness in the world for us. I shall also be reminded of your birthday twofold today. One of the boys here, Nobby Clarke from New Zealand, today is his birthday as well. Well I shall write nothing more today, Nan sweetheart. Best of luck, best of health, and all the love in the world on this your 32nd birthday and all others hereafter.

Sunday June 28th;

Had a pretty bad accident on the job last week. Charlie Manning, one of our lads, had a pretty severe cut between the fingers of his right hand, when one of the other lads’ axe slipped. He has returned to Wolfsburg and is expected to be alright in a month or two. We had another lad join us today in his place, another New Zealand chap, seems a decent fellow too. Apart from the accident things go on as usual, although the weather here has been pretty stormy this past week. We haven’t stopped work any but its cut down our swimming. The chap who lives here, came home on a fortnights leave from France. He’s in the Jerry Air Force, on the ground staff. He’s been very friendly with us and is not a bad chap at all. Been suffering with the piles again lately, hope they don’t get too bad. Have to get fixed up when I get home though. Had two letters from Nan this week, and a birthday card from Gerald bless his little heart. How I’m longing to see my darling Nan and my little lad again, once again how I wish this damn war was over. We’ve no news here, we just go on hoping for the best knowing full well one of these days the guard will come and give us the glad news – “Der kreig ist firtig. Alles haime gehn”.

July 4th 1942;

Well here I am on my 33rd birthday. The best present I had was 4 letters received from home this morning. 3 from my darling Nan, and 1 from Mum and Dad, the best parents in the world. Well a little about our present abode. The weather hasn’t been too good these past few weeks, although we’ve had a few brilliant patches of sunshine, enough anyway to bring out the abundance of wild berries and strawberries that are in the hills. We’ve had strawberries and cream twice this week, also our cook, Harry, has turned out two very nice blackberry tarts. I mustn’t forget to mention our mushroom soups. As long as our Red Cross parcels keep arriving we shall have no worry about feeding ourselves. Today we also had a new issue of battledress, socks, boots, and long pants, sent from the Red Cross. Glad to see from Nan’s letters she is picking up from her illness. God has been good to ease my mind about her, by letting those letters arrive telling my Nan is picking up again. I only hope Anton our Commandant Fuhrer manages to get the snaps he took of us, so that I can send one home. It is nearly two years since I left home, so I’m sure Nan will want a glance to see what I look like after my ‘experiences’. Maybe I’ve altered I don’t know. We’ve had some news given us this week, which if true isn’t too good for us. They say Marsa Matruh has fallen to the Jerries. We POWs are calmly waiting for the turn of the tide in our favour, but this doesn’t sound anything like it. Come on Winston, we want to get out of this and get back to dear old England again.

Sunday 18th July;

Nothing unusual, life goes on much the same. I am lucky in having my mail fairly regularly from home. Last week I was unfortunate in having trouble with my old complaint, piles. I had the week off and feel OK again now. Glad to hear my darling Nan is improving in health. Hope the weather is all it should be on her holiday.

Sunday August 2nd;

Things have been going as usual. The weather has been hot and stormy.

We have been feeding very well lately. The Berg has been yielding up her crop of fruit. We’ve had, apart from strawberries, as many and more than we can eat of raspberries and bilberries. Harry our cook has made jam of the strawberries, and bottled two big jars of the bilberries. Our garden is OK, we are having plenty of beetroot and marrows and now we have cucumbers. So we have no grumbles here. We have heavy rations off the Germans because we work over 1000 metres, and we know for sure we are living here much better then the civilians in the towns. The people are heartily fed up with this war, despite the Germans promises and their propaganda. Maybe things will happen for the best sooner than we expect. The real ‘titbit’ of news I have kept till last. Two of our chaps – Bob Morton and Bill Perry did a ‘bunk’ last night. Good Luck to them, they are making for Switzerland, about 120 miles. Its rough going but they have a chance anyway. Of course today there are any amount of ‘flapping’ Officers coming up here, questions, searches, but we’ll settle down to normal in a few days. One more thing, I received my second clothes parcel from Nan yesterday. Bless her she’s a Darling. A really useful parcel too with my new boots as well. I’m all set now, clothing, boots and underclothes all new. Just ready for the trip home!

Sunday 23rd August;

Well well, since last writing in my diary Bob Morton and Bill Perry have been captured again. They were only out for about 5 days. The ‘bunker’ is pretty full at Wolfsburg with lads trying to escape, it seems pretty hopeless. When the two lads hopped it we had to find a new Confidence Man. I’m proud to say I got the vote. I only wish I could speak German a bit more. My little isn’t good enough, but I learn a new word every day, so I’ll probably manage OK. We also have a new Commandant and guard, both of whom seem decent chaps. Had no mail for over 5 weeks now, I expect the hold-up is censorship at Wolfsburg, here’s hoping for next week. Last week Dinkie had a pretty nasty axe cut on his leg, but not severe enough for him to go back to Wolfsburg. None of us want to go back there, our only hope now is they can find a job here for us for the winter. We can put up with the hard work for a decent living space and conditions, so here’s hoping.

Sunday 20th Sept;

Life goes on as usual. We’ve had two more chaps join us from Wolfsburg, they are New Zealanders. We’ve had a slight change in our work lately. Previously we used to strip the bark from the trees and the Germans use this for tanning. But recently the sap has stopped running from the trees so that makes it impossible to strip the bark, so we go through the process of ‘shaving’ the trees now. Couple of days last week Dinkie, Mac, and myself did a bit of threshing for Joe our gaffer. We enjoyed the two pints of home made cider he gave us. Just one thing I must record here. Last week I managed to scrounge an Edelweiss, a rare flower which, we are told, only grows above 14000 ft. Nobby and I were talking to the Commandant and he (the Commandant) kindly offered it to – well, I got it but Nobby said it was definitely meant for him. It’s a shame really (for Nobby), probably I’ll send him a photo of the flower after the war!! In my early days as a POW, most of my diary was taken up with my daily menu. Maybe this can be understood. Food, food and more food was our daily topic. Until the Red Cross parcels came we were not exactly starving but what we called ‘bloody hungry’. So I entered in this book what was uppermost in my thoughts, hence the daily menu. But now I sit here more or less comfortable in a good camp, decent conditions, a good cook, and to Prisoners of War excellent grub.

So may I be forgiven if I once more give a menu here in my diary in appreciation of the changed conditions. This was our meals today, a repetition of most days. Breakfast - bacon, tomatoes, and fried bread and marmalade. Dinner - stewed or braised beef, marrow, beans and potatoes, mint sauce and gravy. Stewed apples, custard and cream. Tea - Salmon, tomatoes(fresh) and cucumber, fruit, cake and jam. Supper - biscuits, cheese, and cocoa. That is, I think all I need to say. I will enter no more menu’s unless we revert back to old times, which I sincerely hope and pray we do not.

Sunday 11th October;

Since last writing I’ve had 3 days off for my old complaint of piles. They are a damned nuisance, I feel perfectly fit except for this complaint. One thing I mean to do is to get these seen to when I get home. The weather for October has been grand. All last week we were working for the Graf picking potatoes and maize. Dinkie had a day or two off doing cook as Harry had a bad cold and had to stop in bed. Suited old Dink messing about at home, he don’t like the Berg. Had no mail now for a month, hope everything is Ok with Nan and Gerald and all at home.

Sunday 8th Nov;

Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote three weeks ago. I was pretty bad with my stomach. The civilian Doctor sent me to hospital with suspected Appendicitis. That was Thursday October 22nd. On Friday the Commandant took me to Klagenfurt but the hospital there was full of their own men, and I was ordered to go back to Wolfsburg. I arrived here (Wolfsburg) on Sat 24th October. Was examined by the English Doctor and was told my trouble was not Appendicitis but probably my Liver! I was salt and tablets for a week, meanwhile I was feeling pretty rotten in my stomach. So next Monday I reported sick to another British MO and was told my trouble was Gastritis. I was then given different tablets and tried a week of those, and that brings me to today. Well I certainly feel better but still have little twinges in my tummy, maybe I’ve strained myself. So now I’ll see what the next few days bring. Glad to say I have at last received mail from home. 6 from Nan bless her, 1 from Mam and Dad, and one from an old school friend, Horace Sellers. Everything seems to be alright at home now, I wish I was there. One gets terribly moody here at times. I wonder how this life will affect us in later years. Still one must live in hope and not get too down in the mouth, at least I’ve got the finest little wife in the world waiting for me when I get home.

Sunday 15th November;

Well here I am, still in Wolfsburg. I’ve been examined again for my stomach, and the MO feels convinced my trouble will not ------ anything serious, and he told me I am quite OK for work. So I’ve decided to go back to the job tomorrow or soon as possible. Last week I had a game of football, and blow me if I didn’t badly sprain my right wrist! My wrist is pretty well all right again, but I’m still wearing a strap. November 11th we had a Remembrance Parade, and a picked party of us formed a Guard of Honour and marched down to the Cemetery in Wolfsburg for a service over the graves of our lads who died here. Everything went very well, and we had a nice wreath to lay on every grave.

November 29th;

Well this time I sit down to write back at Gradish our working camp. I got a bit fed up with hanging around Wolfsburg, so I asked the MO to give me a good ‘once over’. He told me I had no need to worry about my complaint turning to any thing serious.

So I packed up and came here on the 20th. I still have mysterious (to me) pains but I’m not unduly worried since having the MOs verdict. The weather here is glorious, cold and frosty, but sunshine all day. I found everything here OK, nice to see old Dinkie again. Mail is sadly lacking again. Today we all went up to a big pool by the castle and had quite a bit of fun on skates the Graf so kindly lent us. None of us are any good yet, but we shall have a good try to become so through the winter. One piece of news we had yesterday, is at the same time both good and bad. The Red Cross at Geneva tell us that from December 1st we shall only be able to have one food parcel every two weeks, instead of every week as at present, owing to transport difficulties. For our tummy’s sake that isn’t the best of news, but at the same time its pleasing to know that the Germans find themselves pushed for transport. This definitely fits in with the war news we have heard lately, so if by pulling in our belts a little means a step nearer our victory, we do it with a smile!

December 29th;

A month since last writing this diary. Quite a lot happened since then. About a fortnight ago, we were all called out to help in putting out a fire. It was in a village about two miles away. We went along with the little Fire Engine from our village and found quite a big barn blazing away like the devil. Anyway to cut a long story short, we did our bit to prevent the fire from spreading and quite enjoyed the experience. Things have been about the same since then. The weather has been perfect, no snow yet but no rain either. Xmas we had a really fine time. I cant write down here half enough, just how good our ‘Employer’ is to us. One thing I can say, we are all very proud to have known them. Xmas eve we were all pretty well ‘under the weather’. Xmas Day itself we simply had a marvellous time. I have a menu card made out by our employers which shows what kind of meals we had. We all had a rattling good sing-song in the evening, ending up in a Bridge contest. Yesterday, Boxing Day, we spent very quietly, and now we start work again tomorrow, very satisfied with our Xmas break. I only hope my Nan and Gerald and all at home had a good time, and here’s hoping and praying that next Xmas will bring us together again.

March 1943;

Well, well, Mark Twain once said he started his diary off very well, then got to the state of – got out of bed, breakfast, dinner, tea, and back to bed. A few days of that, then unless anything exceptional happened, he forgot all about his diary. Well I’m afraid I’ve also reached that stage. Life as a POW is rather monotonous. We try and make life as interesting as possible of course, but we haven’t an unlimited field of opportunity. As NCOs, Dinkie and I have had the privilege of working or not working as we deemed fit. Stalag and its squalor, overcrowding etc never appealed to us, so we preferred to be out at some working camp, - not necessarily working, enjoying the scenery perhaps!! Anyway after spending a nice Xmas at Gradish , where we made some very fine friends, we had to move on to another working camp owing to Gradish closing for the winter. This working camp was the same work – timber, in a place called Ossiach. This again was a place surrounded by glorious scenery. This little village was on the shores of a lake called Ossiach Zee. We stopped there for a month, but soon got fed up with working in 20-25 degrees of frost, so we packed in and returned to Stalag on January 29th. After 3 weeks (21. 2. 43) we found Stalag worse than even a working camp. We heard of some of our lads working out on a farm, and volunteered to go there. So here I am tonight in a little hut with ten more lads in a valley just outside of a place called Spittall, 60 miles from Vienna.

We do farm work and timber, things are not too bad.

(Information supplied by his sons, Gerry and Gordon Shaw.)


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