Work Camp 223 L

Location: Eisenzicken (near Oberwart in Burgenland, East Austria)

Type of work: Farmwork

Man of Confidence: Unknown

Number of Men: 30 approx.

Known to be present

Richard Ballentine Dvr RASC 8225 Manchester; also 522/L
Ronald Edward Bell Sgt R Marines 6929 Gosport; transf'd to Stalag 383 & Marlag
Jack Bissett Pte RASC 156120 Edinburgh
Stuart Hardie Blofeld Tpr RAC 5805 Birmingham; also 522/L
Joseph P. Burke Pte RASC 5768 Co. Durham (possible)
A.J. Clarke Pte 2/2 Fd. Pk. Coy. 5197 WA, Australia
Alexander McNeill Connell L/Cpl RE 5724 Ayrshire; also 863/L
W Davis        
K.D Dennis Pte 2/2 Fd. Pk. Coy 5198 WA, Australia
J.R. Gardner Pte 2/4 Inf. Bn. 3002 NSW, Australia
Robert Edward Graham Sgt R Marines 6787 Gosport; transf'd to Stalag 383 & Marlag
John Halley Pte 2/11 Inf. Bn. 7053 also 110/L
Thomas Hawksworth Sgt R Marines 5879 Burton-on-Trent; transf'd to Stalag 383 & Marlag
Eric Hipkiss Dvr RASC 5723 also 522/L
John Hogg Spr RE 5793 Berwickshire
Mervyn Patrick Martin Pte 27 M.G. Bn. 3001 Wellington, NZ; also 232/GW
Thomas Francis Morrissy Pte 2/6 Inf. Bn. 5154 Victoria, Australia; also 522/L
Albert Robert Nelson Spr RE 5792 Newcastle; also 863/L
Les Pearce Parfitt Sgt RA 6216 London; transf'd to Stalag 383
Doug Pattison Pte RASC 156121 Edinburgh; transf'd to Stalag 17B
E.W. Pierce Pte 2/8 Inf. Bn. 5153 Victoria, Australia
Stan Prout Sgt R Marines 5880 also 522/L, transf'd to Stalag 383 & Marlag
J.A. Radford Tpr RAC 5735  
Albert John Revans EA R Navy 5804 Plymouth (HMS Gloucester)
Luke Robson Dvr RASC 5831 also 522/L
Arthur D. Thompson A/Sgt 2/6 Inf. Bn. 5152 Victoria, Australia; transf'd to Stalag 383
K Watts Pte RASC 5722 Birmingham
J.F. Welsh Sgt RA 6215 Southall
Frank Wright Pte 2/4 Inf. Bn. 2997 NSW, Australia; also 232/GW, 101/GW, 863/L
coxpam02.jpg (64705 bytes) coxpam04.jpg (38168 bytes) pow0031.jpg (21054 bytes)
Radford, Welsh, Parfitt, Prout, Hawksworth Watts, Burke, Patterson, Bissett, Blofeld Graham, Dennis, Robson, Clarke, Bell
  coxpam06.jpg (45773 bytes) coxpam05.jpg (25616 bytes)

The following account is an extract from the diary of Sgt Hawksworth.

July 30th. Stan (Prout) and I took a chance and joined a party of 30 to leave Marburg and work on a farm. Our destination turned out to be a small village called Eisenzicken near the Hungarian border. We must have looked a sight because the women and children were scared stiff and peered at us from behind windows and doors. No wonder either, for most of us wore beards and had on uniforms of all nationalities. I had a Yugoslavian hat, Greek tunic, belt, and baggy Yugoslavian breeches. We were taken to the place that was to be our sleeping quarters, a room 18 ft x 14 ft with two shelves for sleeping down each side and then given a chance to bath and shave. From now on it was obvious things were going to get better. Later on in the day the farmers came en-masse to collect the man who was to work for him. The method by which this was done reminded us so much of a slave market that we had to laugh. I was taken along to the Wolfel house and introduced to the family. At first they seemed a weird lot to me but I was to find out, leaving aside their absolute ignorance, they had hearts of gold. They stuffed me full as an egg with food and when I arrived back at the lager I found the other fellows had received a like treatment, some of them much to their present discomfiture. It was amusing in those early days to watch one another trying to talk to the farmers in sign language. With all these benefits after our early treatment it was only natural we should look for snags. We found the snag in the length of time we were to work... 6 a.m. till 9 p.m. These people beat a Chinese coolie for work. I for one didnít care how long we worked as long as I got my belly full for doing it. I was also fortunate in getting what was probably the best house in the village for food. With good food at the farm and a weekly Red Cross parcel of food, it was no wonder I weighed before winter the heaviest I have ever been, but when my system got used to food again, I soon went back to normal. Now we were able to eat regularly, we soon were in high spirits and considered it only a few months before it would be all over. How I scoffed at Sep when he said the war wouldnít finish before 1945. At least it proved to me that he didnít think Germany would win for their propaganda said England was on her last legs.

Probably the most memorable day for me was the day I got my first letter telling quietly that I was the father of a little girl. All my troubles dropped away like an old coat and my relief; well no words can describe it. Later the lads used to tell me what a snappy, grumpy fellow I was till I got this first letter. Certainly it was a long while before I found anything to grumble about. Our first Christmas under the circumstances was a great success and Iím able to boast I was able to get good and drunk on wine whilst a POW. By now we were building, together with a number of gypsies, a road to the village. It was an extremely cold winter and several days reached 34 degrees of frost. When we ran out of stones for the road we had to quarry our own at a place about 10 kilometers away. This meant we had to leave the laager even earlier. However, during the winter work on the farms eased off and we were able to get a couple of hours leisure at night. As 20 of us were living in the one small room, some had to lie on their bunks while the rest cooked etc. in turn. Life now was just a song as long as the Red Cross parcels came regularly. We were still wearing the old clothes they gave us in Marburg and did we look funny in our patches and rags on our feet but what did we care as long as we were in good health. No one seemed to worry now they were getting mail and everything at home was alright.

When the news of motherís death came through it knocked me heavily even though I had half expected this would happen before I got home again.

In spring our uniforms came through the Red Cross and we were able to make our German guards look quite shabby. Most of us considered ourselves by now fully-fledged farmers doing the ploughing, scything and any job that came along. Except for the long hours, I had nothing to grumble about on my farm. I was treated with the greatest respect and shared all their troubles and joys. In fact I was just one of the family.

After nearly 12 months over a half of our party were sent to another village a few kilometers away (probably Oberwart). Stan was among these, but we were unable to do anything about it. However, we were still able to see one another occasionally and as he had drawn a rotten farm, he engineered his way back to Stalag with a promise he would get word back to me of how things were. I was to down tools and go in immediately on receipt of this. We had heard that N.C.Os were not working any more but had no means of verifying this until now. Having received the letter saying he had gone up to the marine laager, I decided to stay on at Eisinzicken over the Christmas. Early in January I downed tools and refused to work and after many threats was sent into Wolfsberg.

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