Work Camp 107 GW
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
|Jack||Bavister||Pte||21 Bn.||4192||New Zealand|
|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|
|William Bruce||Gleeson||Gnr||2/1 Fld. Rg.||4394||Australia; also 1731/L|
|William Alexander||Hadden||Sgmn||R Sigs||9332|
|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|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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|
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.