Work Camp  2124 L


Location: Spittal am Semmering

Type of work: Farm & Forestry

Man of Confidence: W.O.  Wyatt, (5736?)

Number of Men: 12 - 15

Known to be present

? Brown        
? Churchill        
? Cope        
? Dean        
? Florian        
Leslie L. Frame Cpl R Marines 4381  
? Handler        
? Howe        
? Kennedy        
? Lindsay        
William Marsden L/Seaman HMS Gloucester 4854 also 242/L
? Petter        
C. 'Dinky' Ricketts Sgt RAC 1907 also 1203/L
Peter Roughsedge Cpl RAOC 2629 St Helens; transf'd to Stalag 18C
Eric Shaw Sgt RAC 1906 also 1203/L
R.S. Wyatt CSM RE 5736 Possible

Photos provided by Keith Marsden, Gordon Shaw and Rod Johnson.

Diary of Sgt Eric Shaw

March 1943;

   Well, well, Mark Twain once said he started his diary off very well, then got to the state of Ė 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 Iím afraid Iíve also reached that stage. Life as a POW is rather monotonous. We try and make life as interesting as possible of course, but we havenít 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 Ė 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.

April 27th;

  Still at Spittal. Here two months and having quite a decent time.  Quite a few events have happened since we arrived.   After a few days here, Dinkie and I noticed things were not so bright regarding the grub. We were then being fed by the people down at the farm. Both Dinkie and myself knew just what we were allowed for grub from previous experiences, and as we saw it someone was making a good thing out of it.  So we got together, had a good Ďtickí and demanded to do our own cooking. After a lot of arguing we started off on our own cooking with Dinkie as cook, and what a difference. When we received the ration cards we could see what we had been robbed of.  Anyway, now with the help of our Red X parcels we are doing as well as anybody. I had a go at cook for three days when Dinkie was off sick. Wait till I see Nan, Iíll show her a thing or two (sez me).   Iíve had a few letters from my darling during the last month, and I can't help feeling more in love than ever. Maybe next Easter will see us together again.   We manage to get a little news through, and today we hear Africa is practically finished. All we want to see now is our lads having a crack at Europe.   Back again to news of our camp. Last week we had four more lads join us bringing our total to 15.   Our Easter holidays went off very well. We finished work Saturday dinner time till Tuesday morning. Saturday evening we had a Ďbooze upí. We had a barrel of beer in for a fortnight and doctored it with 6 packets of raisins, yeast and sugar. It was sure a devils brew! We were all merry and bright and had quite a good sing-song.    Sunday we spent sun bathing, by the way, the weather has been glorious the past week, and we are all looking perfectly fit and brown. Monday morning we had a game of soccer followed by a game of rugby. Much to my disgust I stopped a hefty blow on the chest. I went to the Docs this morning, and he said no bones were broken, but I am now strapped up with plasters for a few days.   Before I shut up for today, I must once again mention here that the people who though obviously cowed by the Gestapo, are nevertheless inclined to the British. Although POWs, we flatter ourselves we are doing our little bit to bring home to these people that the British are not a nation of savages and bullies as their eternal propaganda desires them to think. And in fairness I must say, the people we have met here in Austria, are in every respect similar to the people at home, and I am proud to say I have managed to make quite a few friends.  I must add, one day last week four of us climbed up to the top of Kampalp, 1765 metres (5300 ft). What a glorious view we had, it was marvellous. Away to our east we could see Vienna about 60 miles away, and away behind us was peak after peak of the Austrian Alps. A sight I shall never forget.

May 15th 1943;

  Well at last weíve had definite news that the trouble in Africa is finished. At last we have made some real move towards victory. But until we are fighting here in Europe, Iím not going to guess when the war is likely to finish. The Jerries have a lot on hand, but they are far from beaten yet. We see from the fields here probably half a dozen long trains loaded with troops and transport going towards Italy each day. What strikes us as most queer is the numerous wheeled vehicles and horses making up most of their transport. Still we shall have to be more patient than ever, and in the words of a great politician Ė ďwait and seeĒ.   A couple of weeks ago, after a game of football, we had ten minutes each way at rugby. As usual when I try to play that damned game, I sustained an injury. I badly bruised my chest. I thought I had broken a rib, but after visiting the local Doctor, he stood me off for ten days all strapped up. Iím out at work again now but still a bit shaky on my chest.  My pal Dinkie had to return to Stalag last week for an operation on piles. Heís been suffering pretty badly of late. His complaint is different to mine in that he has external piles, whereas mine are internal and bleeding.   Received, also last week, another clothes parcel from my darling Nan, gee sweetheart how I miss you. For about ten minutes before writing this I have been looking at your photo, you and my Gerald. Maybe darling it wont be too long before I see you both again. Good night darling, God bless you and keep you safe.

7th June;

  Since writing last, Dinkie has gone back to Stalag for a probable operation on piles. He went back about three weeks ago, and last week he sent word for me to go back also. Since then Iíve tried to get back, although candidly I should like to stop on here till the summer. Still I may go back next week.

10th October 1943;

  Well Iíve given the old diary quite a miss, and yet I feel I should mention one or two things thatís happened since last writing in this book.   Firstly I went back to Stalag June 17th, and damn it if I didnít meet Dinkie coming out of Stalag to return back to the job. Well as can be imagined we were both pretty wild. In the few minutes we had together, we decided I should stay in Stalag for a day or two and then back to the working camp. I stayed at Wolfsburg for a fortnight, then came back here, once again in Spittal.   Since being back, great things are happening as the world knows. We have done fine in the advance, when I say we, I mean the boys at the front. The news we have here to date is, the line in Italy is from Naples in the West to Trimoli on the East Coast. The Russians are advancing further every day; in general things are sure looking rosy.   We here at Spittal, had a great thrill here on October 1st. We had an air battle directly over our heads. We couldnít see anything because of the clouds, but the music of the machine guns could be heard quite plainly. Our planes carried on to their objective however and gave them hell. Their objective was Vienna Neu Stat. This was the second time they had bombed that town. Great work lads, we are not forgetting London in 1940, go to it.

(Information kindly supplied by Gordon & Gerry Shaw.)

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