Work Camp 785 GW
Location: Weissenbach an der Enns
Type of work: Paper Mill
Man of Confidence: Sgt F Collins
Number of Men: 59 approx.
|A||Barlow||Sgmn||R Sigs||5850||also 2056/L|
|George C||Bradbury||Spr||RE||5876||capt'd Crete; also 2056/L|
|D||Christie||Pte||2/6 Inf. Bn.||3670||Australia|
|Max A||Crang||Pte||2/6 Inf. Bn.||7479||Australia|
|Doug R.||Elliot||Pte||1 Cps Supp Clm||4042||Australia|
|W.P. (Ginger)||Greatrex||Spr||RE||5766||also 1107/L|
|Norman||Hodgetts||Gnr||2/3 Fd. Rg.||5851||Australia; also 2056/L|
|Ern J.G.||Hodson||RQMS||RA||5896||also 2056/L|
|Ernie||Jacks||Dvr||R Sigs||5639||also 2056/L|
|Mark A||Jenner||Gnr||RA||5828||also 2056/L|
|Ronald||Peters||Pte||21 Bn.||4124||New Zealand|
|W||Pirini||Pte||2NZEF||5857||New Zealand; also 2056/L|
|C R||Pratt||Dvr||RASC||5862||also 2056/L|
|Walter||Robson||Tpr||RAC||2589||Derbyshire; transferred to Stalag 344|
|Eric||Salmon||Pte||2/6 Inf. Bn.||3527||Australia|
|Clarry||Stanley||Pte||HQ Gd. Bn.||3807||Australia|
|Anthony||Strettles||Sgmn||6 Div. Sigs.||3811||Australia; died 27.2.43; also 11041/GW|
|R||Thomas||Pte||2/4 Inf. Bn.||4018||Australia|
|Tony||Vella||Spr||RE||5702||Turkey; also 2056/L|
|Elvet||Williams||Pte||Welch||5841||Wales; also 2056/L|
|T||Zantuck||Pte||2/6 Inf. Bn.||3681||Australia|
|Autumn 1942||Spring, 1943||Spring 1944|
|RASC group||Colonial group||Nov '42 group|
|Autumn 1943||Birmingham group||Birmingham group|
|Room 4, Summer 1943||Room group|
|George Bradbury||I McPherson||M A Crang|
|Duff Cooper||Ernie Jacks||Jock|
|Ozzy||Jack Worsnop||Baines & Rutter|
|Manchester group, 1943||RAOC group, 1943||Room 2, 1943|
|Mark Jenner & Lager cat||Joe Dooler||Percy & Yorky|
On the night of 20th August, 1944, a bomber of the South African Air Force crashed near to the Work Camp. All of the crew were killed. They were buried by the POWs from the camp.
Thanks to Gill Bradbury, daughter of George Bradbury and John Collins, son of Fred Collins, for the names and pictures.)
The following excerpt is taken from 'Arbeitskommando' by Elvet Williams.
Weissenbach a.d.Enns already had a British POW camp. Its inmates had been absorbed into the village work-force, and that work-force lived on and for the paper mill. The mill straddled the village between road and stream. Timber stacks occupied more ground than the mill itself.. The huge stacks kept the prison camp, sited on the narrower back road, out of sight of main village life.
The camp consisted of only one building. It also bordered a road, whilst its compound contained a narrow useless area, enclosed by barbed wire on all four sides.
The entrance door of the building opened straight into a dining room or common room extending the width of the hut. At the far end an identically situated door led down several steps into the compound stretched along the bank of the stream but separated from it by barbed wire. From the right of the common room a central corridor passed along the longer end of the building, with doors opening on either side into small barrack rooms, each with four double bunks. On the left, the common room showed three doors. The first was the entrance to the guards quarters, which meant that all their comings and goings had to be an intrusion into common room activities. The second door had two different padlocks with two different keys, one held by the Germans, the other by the British, and belonged to a small room used as a parcel store. The third door, against the further wall, took one into a short corridor lined on both sides with zinc troughs serving as wash basins and equipped with taps for cold water. the corridor led through another door into the Big Room, a dormitory spanning the width of the hut.
The casement-pattern windows opened outwards for air, but not for short cuts, since strong iron bars were set into the frames. The only stove in the prisoners' quarters squatted in the middle of the common room, ensuring that most off-work hours would be spent away from the bunks. The great attraction of the stove lay not so much in the amount of heat it threw out to warm the room, but in its versatility, attributable to its large area of hot plate and its rear oven.
A further significant improvement in our lot was that lighting was by electricity, in every room.
The following account and photographs were sent to me by Richard Schlager, an Austrian from Vienna, who was born in Weissenbach and lived there as a child.
The day on which the Second World War officially ended, was one of the most eventful in the whole war in this little Steier village on the borders of Oberosterreich.
According to the eye-witness accounts of my grandmother (at the time 32 years old) and my mother (13 years old), tragedies and dramas were played out in the village and surroundings which will be described briefly below.
To set the scene, an English POW camp had been set up in Weissenbach. The barracks included living accommodation, a cook house (the former "40's" house which served as living accommodation for our family in the 1960s)and the wash-house. (the wash/cook house was in use up to the break-up of the settlement in the 1980s.) The settlement lay close to the former Cellulose factory, opposite the woodpile.
The existence of the POW camp was probably known to the English soldiers who were advancing from the South, because on 8th May 1945, at 8 o'clock in the morning the community offices in Weissenbach on the Enns were filled with English soldiers. These soldiers looked as though they had spent the night of 7th/8th May on a "straw camp" which my grandmother, who worked in the council offices, and who amongst other things was responsible for the "Fleischbeschau" (?) immediately noticed, as the "straw camp" had not been there the day before. As the Town Mayor, Mr Delmonte, contrary to his normal habits, was not yet in his office, all the other town officials went back home as well.
The mayor was at the time at the community doctor Dr. Jaksche's surgery. A tragedy had taken place there the night before. The community doctor, an ardent Nazi had exterminated his whole family. First his two older sons had to shoot themselves, and then Dr. Jaksche shot his three younger children, his wife and himself.
When the Mayor came back to the community offices from the doctor's, a Russian officer arrived there coming from the direction of Altenmarkt.
The conversation between the officer and Mayor Delmonte according to my grandmother, was about lines of demarcation, that had been set up in the middle of the Enns, and the advance or rather the non-advance of Russian troops due to the fact that in the town an English POW camp existed and that American trrops had already advanced as far as Buchauersattel (about 10km father in the direction of St. Gallen.)
Following this conversation, the Russian officer went back to Altenmarkt. This remained the only visit of a Russian soldier to Weissenbach.
The town of Altenmarkt remained occupied by Russians for a considerable time. During this time there were stories of many rapes (the cries of the women could be hear across the Enns).
For the locals, the visit of the Russian officer led to a fear that Russian troops could occupy the town.
In order to avoid this, some locals drove with several English POWs through St. Gallen to Buchauersattel to persuade the American troops to move as quickly as possible in order to reach Weissenbach. The American troops had however got stuck in a huge engagement with the retreating German army in Buchauersattel.
According to the accounts the American troops immediately drove with Jeeps and lorries to Weissenbach and together with the British soldiers who had arrived the night before, carried out negotiations with the locals.
A Reich's train from Hungary with so-called "Jewish goods" had been standing at the station in Weissenbach for weeks guarded by the Volkssturm. On the 8th May however, the train was plundered, with most of the locals (mainly older men, women and children) taking part.
According to the accounts there were some grotesque scenes where two women would fight over a shoe, as each wanted to have a complete pair. In the train there were rolls of cloth, shoes, clothes, tinned foods, medical instruments and every type of household article. According to my mother, former English POWs had themselves made suits ("Steier suits") out of the material and it was possible to see locals with suits made from the plunder of the 8th May 1945 right up to the 1990s.
|The camp stretched from no.112 to no.117. The Cookhouse was no.114 and the Wash-house, no.115|
|After the war, this camp was used by the factory as homes for the employees. No.114 was my home from 1958 until 1975.|
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