Work Camp 980 GW
Location: Veitsch (Gross Veitsch)
Type of work: Magnesium mine
Man of Confidence: Unknown
Number of Men: 117 (20 Australian, 20 New Zealanders)
|J.W.||Barker||Gnr||7 A/Tk. Rg.||3832||New Zealand|
|Ernest T.A.||Butcher||Pte||21 Bn.||3339||New Zealand|
|J.||Carter||Tpr||Div. Cav.||855||New Zealand|
|J.D.||Caskie||Pte||Div. H.Q.||310||New Zealand|
|Frank P.||Chitty||Spr||6 Fld. Coy.||244||Gisbourne, New Zealand|
|Maurice V.||Collins||Pte||276||New Zealand|
|Matthew W.||Ellis||Pte||2/6 Inf. Bn.||7117||Victoria, Australia|
|J.E. (Ted)||Fearon||Tpr||Div. Cav.||194||Taranaki, New Zealand|
|William R. (Bill)||Foggon||Pte||2/11 Inf. Bn.||3678||Australia|
|L.W.V.||Francis||Spr||6 Fld. Coy.||3852||New Zealand|
|George||Graham||Pte||28 Bn.||4123||New Zealand|
|Bernie J.||Groom||Pte||2/6 Inf. Bn.||3728||Australia|
|Stanley||Hancock||Pte||2/11 Inf. Bn.||3662||Australia|
|J.||Hilford||Pte||24 Bn.||4216||New Zealand|
|T.P.||Jones||Pte||21 Bn.||4253||New Zealand|
|Christopher Robert||Kelly||Pte||21 Bn.||7537||New Zealand|
|M.M.||Kunst||Pte||1 Cps. Tp. Supp. Clmn.||2889||Australia|
|Basil A. (Silver)||Lacy||L/Cpl||19 Bn.||222||New Zealand|
|J.E.W.||Lamb||Pte||22 Bn.||5814||New Zealand|
|J.A.K.||Lang||Pte||2/11 Inf. Bn.||5710||New Zealand|
|R.H.||Lodge||Sgmn||1 Cps. Sigs||3800||Australia|
|G.F.||Mallett||Pte||1 H.Q.Gd. Bn.||2351||Australia|
|Thomas||Marsden||Pte||Cam. H.||1216||Argylshire, Scotland|
|Keith Robert||McCollum||Pte||4175||New Zealand|
|W.J.||McKinley||Pte||19 Bn.||47||New Zealand|
|A.W.||Miller||Sgmn||Div. Sigs||158||New Zealand|
|D.B.||Motion||Pte||24 Bn.||597||New Zealand|
|L.||Pepperell||Gnr||2/2 Fld. Rg.||5751||Australia|
|A.R.||Pulford||Pte||24 Bn.||1002||New Zealand|
|Joe P.||Ryan||Pte||18 Inf. Tng. Bn.||3802||NSW, Australia|
|Leon Gabriel||Savage||Pte||H.Q. 6 Div. AASC||5813||Australia|
|A.F.||Scott||Pte||1 Cps. Tp. Supp. Col.||4062||Australia|
|G.A. (Snowy)||Storheim||Pte||2/1 Inf. Bn.||3836||Australia|
|L.D.J.||Sutherland||Pte||18 Bn.||4182||New Zealand|
|Frank H.G.||Wheatley||Pte||5868||New Zealand|
|R.H.||Williams||Pte||1 Cps. Ptl. Pk.||3982||Australia|
|Ben J.||Wilson||Pte||22 Bn.||5894||New Zealand|
|R.F.||Young||Pte||H.Q. 6 Div. AASC||5105||Australia|
Photos provided by Doug Beckett, son of 'Joe'.
This is a special Labour Detachment. The men from whom it is recruited are
mostly prisoners who have made attempts to escape or have shown some opposition
to the discipline of the camps.
The prisoners of war are lodged in barrack huts of the usual kinds, well
built. Generally these are provided with two-tier bunks having palliasses and
two blankets issued by the company for which they are working. These blankets
are often small and thin but most of the men have a third blanket which is their
own personal property. At night they cover themselves with their greatcoats. The
heating is not satisfactory as there is not enough coal for the four stoves
which are installed in two large rooms.
The footgear is in a deplorable state as magnesium is a very abrasive rock.
In other cases shoes, as well as trousers are taken away at night and put
outside the cantonments where at the present time, everything freezes. In the
morning the prisoners are obliged to put their shoes near the stove in order to
get them soft again and the leather obviously suffers from such treatment. At
the moment most of the prisoners work in wooden shoes with all the discomforts
and risks this entails (chilblains, rapid deterioration of socks, danger of
slipping on ice, etc.). It is also necessary to wear gloves but the Directorate
of the Company have only put 50 pairs of leather gloves at the disposal of the
prisoners who are working in the mine. Those who have none are obliged to work
in woollen gloves which very rapidly wear out.
Food is prepared in the communal kitchen of the Company. This has caused complaints as the men who are working in a quarry situated at rather a high altitude have their meals brought up by 'teleferique' and are often cold. They are also very monotonous in kind. During the week previous to this meeting, the prisoners had been supplied five days running with a mixture of potatoes and cucumbers. Meat is served at most but once or twice per week. Rebellion against this state of affairs has already flared up and one of the men was wounded by a rifle shot though both his buttocks.
The food rations correspond to those of the civilian population.
Money and Pay
The number of working hours is not very large; 8 hours a day, 5 on Saturday
and Sunday free. The prisoners complain that the work in the mine is rendered
painful by having to wear wooden shoes. The basic pay is 0.70RM per day. The
prisoners have no opportunity to spend their money.
There is no canteen. It is extremely difficult in this district to procure
even articles of essential necessity such as razor blades, tooth brushes, tooth
powder, toilet paper, paper, pencils, black boot polish, cigarette papers, etc.
The Detachment has been visited once ot twice by an Anglican pastor and a
Catholic priest. The catholic prisoners are not allowed to attend the
celebration of Mass in the local churches.
Recreation and exercise
There are no indoor games. Sports are not indulged in much as the work is
arduous; moreover, besides having not much leisure time, the prisoners have
neither sports equipment nor a suitable ground on which to play outdoor games.
Nevertheless the prisoners' physical state is satisfactory.
A very considerable slowing-up of mails has taken place since the summer.
While at that time letters between England and the camps took two or three weeks
to go and come, it now takes as many months to make the journey. Moreover, one
letter out of three, either outgoing or incoming, never arrives.
The living conditions of the prisoners are fairly satisfactory as a general
rule and the civilian population is well disposed to them. The country is
pleasant and the climate is healthy. The New Zealanders and the Australians have
now become perfectly acclimatized to it. The collective food parcels service
functions to the satisfaction of everyone. It is the matter of correspondence
and of the clothing situation which causes concern at the moment.