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.

Known to be present

D Allary Pte RASC 2427  
H.W. Arden Pte RASC 2315  
Fred Baines Spr RE 5801 also 2056/L
A Barlow Sgmn R Sigs 5850 also 2056/L
Sidney Albert Biffin Spr RE 2449  
George C Bradbury Spr RE 5876 capt'd Crete; also 2056/L
Bertram Brown Pte 2NZEF 4010 New Zealand
A.M. Cassidy L/Cpl R Sigs 587  
D Christie Pte 2/6 Inf. Bn. 3670 Australia
John Cobb   India    
Fred Collins L/Sgt RAOC 2326  
A Comes        
Max A Crang Pte 2/6 Inf. Bn. 7479 Australia
G Davies        
Taffy Dennis Spr RE 5792 possible
A Dobson        
Joe Dooler       Leeds
George Dutton   RAOC 5903?  
Doug R. Elliot Pte 1 Cps Supp Clm 4042 Australia
G (Jock) Findlay Pte RASC 2316  
G Fraser Pte Bk. Watch 2345  
E.A. Garner Dvr RASC 2329  
Albert Gibb        
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
T (Yorkie) Holden Dvr RE 5786  
Ernest Holley L/Bdr RA 5881 also 2056/L
Ernie Jacks Dvr R Sigs 5639 also 2056/L
G Jackson   NZ    
Mark A Jenner Gnr RA 5828 also 2056/L
W (Bill) Jones Tpr RAC 5787 3RTR
Arthur T Kingsbury Tpr RAC 1938  
C Lea   RASC    
H Marshall L/Cpl RAC 8120  
A Matthews Dvr RASC 7616  
I McPherson        
C Parker   RAC    
Edgar Parry Pte RAVC 2343 also 2056/L
Ronald Peters Pte 21 Bn. 4124 New Zealand
W Pirini Pte 2NZEF 5857 New Zealand; also 2056/L
A.S. Pitcher Dvr RASC 2453  
C R Pratt Dvr RASC 5862 also 2056/L
Ron Reed        
Walter Robson Tpr RAC 2589 Derbyshire; transferred to Stalag 344
George Rutter Spr RE 5581 also 2056/L
Eric Salmon Pte 2/6 Inf. Bn. 3527 Australia
David George Smith Spr RE 5696  
Clarry Stanley Pte HQ Gd. Bn. 3807 Australia
A E Start Dvr RASC 2311  
Anthony Strettles Sgmn 6 Div. Sigs. 3811 Australia; died 27.2.43; also 11041/GW
Reggie Swayne   RASC    
R Thomas Pte 2/4 Inf. Bn. 4018 Australia
Tony Vella Spr RE 5702 Turkey; also 2056/L
W (Nellie) Wallis Dvr RASC 2438  
Percy Webber Pte RAVC 2638  
Elvet Williams Pte Welch 5841 Wales; also 2056/L
Perce Williams Spr RE 2948 possible
Jack Worsnop Dvr RASC 2299  
George Yates Marine RM    
T Zantuck Pte 2/6 Inf. Bn. 3681 Australia

Autumn 1942 Spring, 1943 Spring 1944
bradbury3.jpg (68029 bytes) bradbury2.jpg (81943 bytes) bradbury7.jpg (66236 bytes)
RASC group Colonial group Nov '42 group
Autumn 1943 Birmingham group Birmingham group
Room 4, Summer 1943   Room group
gcbradbury.jpg (66023 bytes) bradbury9.jpg (74740 bytes) macrang.jpg (9337 bytes)
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
  bradbury14.jpg (36968 bytes)  
  Weissenbach 1984  


A fatal crash

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.

Tuesday 8 May 1945

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.

Early Morning

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 End: The Jaksche Family

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.

The Russians are coming

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).

Get the Americans...

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.

The Train

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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