Work Camp 107 GW

 Location: Graz-Wetzeldorf

Type of work: General labouring

Chief Man of Confidence of the Company District: Pte G.T. Willoughby

Man of Confidence: BSM Robert Fry

Camp Leader: WO A.E. Hollands

Doctor: Captain J.R. Warren, South African Medical Corps

Number of men: 468

Known to be present

A.J.E. Angell Bdr RA 9293 Manchester
Jack Bavister Pte 21 Bn. 4192 New Zealand
 John North Bilby Cpl RAC 9132  
Robert Henry Bush Sgmn 1 Cps. Sigs. 3380 Australia; also 27/HV, 415/GW, 929/GW
Ken M. Cowdell Pte 2/28 Inf. Bn. 274240 Australia
William Rex Ducket Pte 19 Bn. 8941 New Zealand
J.H. Du Plooy Gnr   9507 South Africa
Robert T Fry BSM RA 9470 MOC
William Bruce Gleeson Gnr 2/1 Fld. Rg. 4394 Australia; also 1731/L
William Alexander Hadden Sgmn R Sigs 9332  
A.E. Hollands WO RASC 9424  
Richard (Dick) Huston Pte   5989 New Zealand
Horace Jarvis A/Cpl 2/28 Inf. Bn. 6602 Australia
Stan Jarvis Pte 2/28 Inf. Bn. 6568 Australia
Colin Arthur Jones Smn RN 4677 HMS Gloucester
John McWilliams Pte 2/28 Inf. Bn. 6456 Australia
Curtis Michaelson Sgt 135th Inf. Rgt. 9414 Minnesota, USA
Charlie Payne Cpl 2/28 Inf. Bn. 8905 Australia
William Donald Pinder Dvr RE 2213 Lichfield, Staffs; also 955/GW
Arthur Plowman Spr 6 Fld. Eng. 3648 New Zealand; also 10760/L, 11701/L, 253/L
Gerard H. Pollock Spr 2/1 Fld. Rgt. 5204 Australia; also 76/HV
Harold Procter Tpr RAC 5684  
Sidney William Puzey Pte Green Howards 39642  
J Reece Cpl R Sigs 39440 One time MOC
Ed C. Riebling Pte 2/28 Inf. Bn. 8904 Australia
Les Shardlow Pte 2/28 Inf. Bn. 6591 Australia
Laurie Curtis Smith Bdr Natal Fld. Art. 8913 S. Africa
James Stephens Pte RAVC 4173 also 76/HV, 511/L
David Gibson Steven Cpl A&SH 7523 Midlothian; capt'd Sicily; Italy POW
John Derrick Surtees Gnr RA 39416 Capt'd N.Africa; Italy POW
William Corbett Tomkins Cpl A&SH 7550 Dundee; capt'd Sicily; Italy POW
Denys Henry Vette Dvr 4th RMT, 2NZEF 723  
Ern Wahl Pte 2/28 Inf. Bn. 6603 Australia
J.R. Warren Capt SAMC 9518  
Henry White Pte W. Yorks 9488 Capt'd Tobruk; Italy POW
James Thomas Wildes Dvr RASC 7668 also 18D,  224/L, 331/L
Jack Woodyard Pte 2/32 Inf. Bn. 7398 Australia; also 373/GW, 218/GW, 975/GW
ID Tag from 107/GW worn by John McWilliams

The Schlossberg tunnels


Date of visit: 29 November 1943

General Description

This camp is quite new and was formerly occupied by civilian workers. It consists of nine sleeping and living barracks, one barrack used for infirmary and Red Cross parcel store-room, two cookhouses with adjoining dining rooms, two washhouses, and two huts with latrines. The camp is situated on the northern outskirts of the town amidst other barracks for civilian workers, but separated from them by barbed wire.

Present Personnel

468 British prisoners of war all from Italian captivity. Amongst them are approximately 300 non-commissioned officers, of whom only 27 have definite proofs of their rank. These 27 men will return to Stalag and the rest will have to stay on the work until they have their status recognised.

Interior arrangements

Each barrack has three rooms with 20 beds each, of the double tier wooden type, palliasses and two good blankets. In every room is a good stove, two tables and 20 stools; no wardrobes, but small shelves are provided. Electric light.

Bathing and washing facilities

Satisfactory. Good facilities for washing and bathing. Hot showers are available once a week on Saturdays and Sundays.

Toilet facilities

Adequate. Large urinals and other accommodations. Pit-type.

Food & Cooking

Cooking facilities are very satisfactory. Ample accommodations in the two cookhouses where British personnel does the cooking under German supervision. Ration scale is provided and about 20% of the men receive heavy workers rations.

Medical attention & Sickness

Capt. D. Warren is resident Medical Officer. There is a good revier in camp and three medical orderlies look after the sick. There is a daily sick parade and the British doctor decided whether a man has to go to work or not. Medical supply and dental treatment unsettled.


The clothing position is very poor. The men are particularly short of good boots as well as of all sorts of clothing. Once more the Delegate heard the same complaint about Stalag Markt Pongau where all extra clothing, blankets and boots had been confiscated.


Laundry is done by the men themselves, but hot water is rather scarce for washing purposes.

Money & Pay

Unsettled so far. The men’s employer is the Stadtgemeinde and they are at present engaged in digging air-raid trenches.


A canteen will be installed at this camp, but so far the men had no pay and therefore were not able to buy anything.

Religious activities


Recreation & Exercise

No equipment. A fairly large space within the barbed wire is available and will be made ready for a basketball field. Indoor games will be asked from the Y.M.C.A.


In order.

Welfare work

Unsettled. A Welfare Committee has been organised.


The main complaint was about the poor clothing and shoeing condition. In wet and cold weather the men suffer under these insufficiencies. The Delegate of the Protecting Power made strong representations at the conference with the camp authorities and in presence of the accompanying officers. It is understood that a consignment of shoes and uniforms is on the way from Stalag and therefore the question will settle itself. Some minor points were amicably settled on the spot.

General impressions 

Materially speaking, this is a very good camp. The chief man of confidence, Pte. Willoughby, is an old-timer in this district and knows how to discharge his duties.

Date of visit: 26 June 1944

Location: Graz-Wetzeldorf

Man of Confidence: Cpl J W Reece

Number of men:640

This is a large British Labour Detachment, nearly all the men in which are engaged on ground-levelling work, in connection with air-raid precautions for the municipal authorities. The Camp makes a good impression. The prisoners are housed in 14 huts containing 3 rooms each, in each of which an average of 17 prisoners are accommodated.

There is a great deal of open ground in between the huts, which is much appreciated by the prisoners and which they use for Sports. The food rations are the regular ones. The meals are prepared by ten cooks in two large kitchens. The camp has moreover, just been given the use of a special kitchen for the preparation of the contents of Red Cross food parcels. The prisoners are – on the whole – well clad, but a large proportion of them have no second uniform, as they have come from camps in Italy. They complain that for the past two months they have not had any beer. The delegate was assured by the Commandant of the Company that in the future the possibility of obtaining beer shall be renewed. There are about 1500 books at the camp. The prisoners have formed a small theatre group, but they lack music and instruments and would like to receive musical equipment sufficient for 12 players. Sports are well organised. The prisoners are visited by the chaplain once every three months. The Camp Infirmary is very well arranged, it comprises a ward of 16 beds, an isolation ward containing two beds, a dressings room and an examination room. On the day of the visit there were 7 slight cases there. There are enough drugs and dressings for the present strength of the camp.

This camp also comprises a special assembly centre for prisoners for the whole district who require dental attention. This centre has been officially open since the beginning of April 1944. Minor dental attention is given by a British dentist; but for more complicated treatment (or when artificial dentures are necessary) the prisoners have to wait in the camp until they are called to the main camp to be treated there. Unfortunately they have to wait for a long time in poor conditions, since the German authorities do not supply them with a special diet suitable to their defective dental state. Since the opening of the camp only 26 prisoners have been able to be sent to the main camp. At present 96 prisoners are waiting to go there and if they continue to be assembled at the same rate as they have been during the past few months, they will still have to wait for a very long time before they are able to obtain treatment. The delegate discussed this state of affairs for a long time with the officer from the Stalag who accompanied him. The gentlemen stated that the question was being given serious consideration at the Stalag with the object of arranging that the patients shall be passed through more quickly. In regard to the question of special diets for dental patients, the German officer in charge of the camp stated that he had done all that he possibly could by approaching the representatives of the Ministry of Food in order to obtain such diets (including white bread, etc). But, a local German professor having stated that black bread was better than white, the officer of the Camp stated that the Ministry of Food now relies upon this statement in order to refuse to issue the white bread asked for.


John McWilliams and the Schlossberg Tunnels

John McWilliams was moved from an Italian POW camp in late 1943. After a short period of time in Stalag 18A/Z at Spittal, he was sent to 107/GW.

In central Graz there was a castle on a hill called Schlossberg - meaning castle hill. It reminded the Western Australians of Kings Park when seen from the river side, although it was probably higher. It rose abruptly from the surrounding ground and was composed of limestone. The Germans had built air raid shelters into it at the start of the war. It was found to be such good rock for tunnelling and very safe for making air raid shelters that the Germans extended the excavations. The aim was to build factories underground away from the bombing.

 The tunnels were made by blasting, which reduced the rock to rubble. The extent of the rubble varied according to the hardness of the rock but perhaps forty to forty five feet per blast. Teams were organised and given titles, e.g. blasters, cutters, gougers, etc. The work appeared to be a bit hit and miss and was most certainly not organised by engineers. Outside there was an area where big concrete blocks were made. They were about twice the size of an Australian concrete building block. They were dried and treated to make them waterproof. The blocks were brought in and built up in a "tunnel shape". When the top of the tunnel was completed there was a variation in the space between the concrete blocks and the rock. In some places it might be 0.75 of a metre and in some places more. It was the prisoners job to get in with lanterns to pack pieces of stone into the gap, the idea being to make it solid so that no little rocks could fall, gradually build up and cause a cave-in. It was very dirty work and water had to be brought in to dampen things down so that the men could get back to work quickly after blasting. The means of cleaning the dust out of the tunnels was completely inadequate. The men would emerge with a layer of limestone over them after a day's work. The rock was a similar limestone to that common in Western Australia although probably more compact.


John McWilliams in 1975 His son, Phil in 2005 Tunnel interior

Escape from 107/GW

The following account comes from the MI9 questionnaire completed by Sapper Arthur Plowman, 2NZEF on his return to the UK in May 1945.

Escaped from Graz. Nov. 20 1944. By a tunnel which took a month to dig. (Tunnel 25ft. I and all others dug it from our barracks to adjoining Russian workers barracks which were unguarded.)  Altogether about 90 men escaped before tunnel discovered. Headed S.S.W. with a S.A. soldier, J.H. du Plooy, and called at a small farm camp where we were given extra foodstuffs to help on way. Headed for Yugoslavia and slept in hay barns. Weather cold and wet with snow on hills. Travelled by day and avoided contact with civilians and all villages.Finally 7 days later picked up by two Border Police at Frusen on Drau (?) and returned to main lager Wolfsberg for interrogation and 21 days imprisonment.

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