The Road to Wolfsberg

The following extract is taken from the diary of Sapper Fred Carne who kept a diary throughout his time as a POW. Fred was captured at Kalamata. After enduring a grim month in a prison camp in Corinth, the POWs were moved.

8 June 1941
Left Corinth. Marched 11 kilometers, crossed canal. Arrived Kalamorka, board train for Athens. Jammed in like sardines. Greeks good to us. Stop at Athens, have rations, Board train again. Get ready for a long march.

9 June
Arrive Grayia at 4 am. March over famous Thermopylae Pass, 32 miles of dust and hell. 100's fall out, 5 die on the way. Proud to say I made it, but only just. Dead beat, sore, stiff and hungry. Arrive Lamia.

10 June
Another bridge blown. Walk 3 kilometers more, very sore. Greeks are great - throw food to us at risk of being shot. One boy killed. Got out of truck to get bread. Jerry will pay for it. The boys go mad but can't do anything.

11 June
A night of hell. Arrive Salonika, can hardly move. Jerry gets us out at point of bayonet. Walk 5 miles under terrible conditions. Beat to the wide, sleep on square in the rain. Thousands here, can get no food. Sick and weak.

12 June
Up at 3 am. Get searched, move to other barracks at 5 pm. Jerry goes mad. Marched a Greek girl and kid plus a boy up to the barracks for punishment. Hit woman with baby, just for being kind to us. Pouring with rain. Can't move a step more.

13 June
Feeling ill. Every part of me aches. Everyone the same. Thousands in this camp as well. Food very poor but Red Cross gives us an egg each. My stomach is terrible, pain is wicked.

14 June
Out at 5.30 am, roll call at 6, breakfast at 7, dinner at 12 am, tea 6 pm. All the meals put into one would not make one decent one. Jerries change bread that the Greeks bring us for our watches.

16 June
Boiling hot by day. Kept on parade for hours but feeling better. Getting over the soreness but still ravenously hungry. Tempted to change watch for bread but still hanging on to it.

17 June
2000 move out for Germany. We get sorted out. Out turn next. Food terrible. Jerries raise the devil. Takes very little here to get shot. Several boys die. The last few days have left their mark.

18 June
Malaria breaks out and spreads. Water here is not fit to drink. Get issued with pills to check the fever. Will be glad to get out of this hole. One chap dies after eating whole loaf of bread.

20 June
Got a donkey for meat. Better than nothing. Happy event, found small piece in the soup. What I would give now for a square meal. Still starving.

22 June
We are kept on parade for 2 or 3 hours at a time in the boiling sun. Tons of sickness and several deaths. Scores of lads still suffering with their feet from the march, as some did not have boots.

23 June
Getting ready to move off. Draw 4 days rations. Half a loaf of bread, 3 biscuits and tin of bacon. Some boys eat the lot in one go. Going to chance their luck on the journey. After waiting hours, put off until the morning.

24 June
After all day waiting we move off at 5 pm. Wait outside station until 9 pm. We get jammed in truck. So many men impossible to move. Air terrible, doors locked. Lie on top of each other. Everyone in a mess.

25 June
Shocking night. Take it in turns to sleep but with doors closed it is hell. Air is foul, can't get water. Two petrol tins in truck, one for water the other for lavatory - throw it out of the window. Get soup very late at night.

26 June
3 boys escape out through window at night. Trucks dirty and lousy. Sweat pours out of us and lice crawling everywhere. They won't open the doors. Several boys have dysentery. The old tin is being used some. Stink is shocking.

27 June
Get soup at Belgrade from Red Cross. First time we get out since the journey began. As the doors open the girls get shocked by the smell.

28 June
Jerry takes all our knives away as the boys cut holes in the truck to let in air. We are all filthy dirty, full of lice and dirt, smelling wicked. Nearly mad with hunger and thirst. Jerry won't listen to us.

29 June
After a lot of buggering around we arrive at Wolfsberg, a real prison camp. Can hardly walk. Lots of stretcher cases. Got a bit of bread and, what a thrill, a bit of jam. Tastes like the best I ever had.