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Stalag XVIIIA was in Wolfsberg, Austria.
My husband's uncle, Walter Gossner, known as Bill, was a POW at Stalag xviiia.
My Grandfather was a POW, in Stalag 18a, but sadly only lived for 3 months on his return, I have little knowlage of what the existance was like, and would like to find out more, I recently managed to get his medals released after many years of trying He was Bbdr, William Walsh (Paddy) Royal Horse Artillery (nick name DAD, as he was one of the oldest,about 38 yrs) Taken Prisoner at Creat, Previosly fought through Palastine and Escaped fron Tubruke.
My next door neighbour Mrs Eileen Jenkins and I were having a chat one day about tracing relatives and how our respective parents and grandparents had served in the forces during the two great wars. Eileen produced a photograph album which contained a series of letters and pictures of the series of events leading up to her father's death in 1942 in Stalag 18A POW camp.
Her father was Arthur Duggan and was captured in Corinth, Greece 1941, the two friends who looked after him prior to his death were W. Jordon of the R A.S.C. and W Pearce of the Royal Engineers.
I found the album most interesting and decided to look to see if there was anything on the Web about the camp and subsequently came across your Website I printed off several pages and gave them to Eileen, she was enthralled and has read every word several times.
In Eileen's album are caricature drawings made by her father of some of his fellow POWs (they are brilliant) and she has asked if I would contact you to offer copies of these to anyone who may recognise the men depicted in them, so here they are. Individual copies and attachments can be sent to whoever requires them.
My father, John Caleb Rivett, was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery on a radar battery in Crete and was captured there in 1942. He spoke good German and he was much in demand as an interpreter and negotiator in general. He never dwelt much on his war-time experiences - he answered our childish questions when we were children, but it is only since he died in 1997 that I have found more from my mother about their experiences of WW2. She was Joan Davis at the time, in the ATS. She has just told me of quite a coincidence which she is keen to follow up, if anyone has any information.
After the war, she wasin a London Tube train and opposite her was another young woman whom she recognised as a fellow pupil at their primary school. She was also a Joan. They re-introduced themselves and both announced that they were now engaged to be married. Mother said that her fiance was just back from POW camp - so was Joan's. Mother said that hers had been in Austria - so had Joan's. And so on.... It turned out that Dad and the other fiance were both in Wolfsberg. When Mum next saw John Rivett she mentioned this to him. He was delighted - he had been good friends with the other man, whose name was Brickwood - a brewing family in the West Country.
If this is of any interest to anyone who remembers my father, John Rivett, or can give me any links to Mr Brickwood, my mother would be very pleased to hear through me at email@example.com
I have received an email from a niece of Jeff Brickwood's as follows:-
I saw your request for info on a chap called Brickwood. I am the grand-daughter of the brewing founder and one of my uncles served time as a POW his name was Jeff Brickwood and my auntie is Joan. I guess he is the chap? They emigrated to Australia just after the war and only returned a couple of times to visit, the last time in 1988. He died in 1990 aged 70. My father and his next brother up are the only two of the 4 brothers left now and they are 81 and 83. Joan is still alive and lives in Perth, they had 4 children who are all grown up and some are parents themselves. She has a huge family out there.
Tessa Norgrove (nee Brickwood)
A prisoner's tale by Ossie Phillips
I was one of many British prisoners of war captured in Greece in April 1941.
In mid December 1944 I was in a working camp of 60-70 located about 120 km south west of Vienna on the main rail line to Italy. The camp was just across the road from the village railway station.
We had quite a bit of musical talent in the camp and a few instruments - a violin, a clarinet, guitar and several mouth organs.
One of the Austrian guards, who was something of a schemer, approached us one day with a proposition by asking if we would like to have the use of a grand piano for Christmas. Improbably though it seemed, it appeared that a family living in Vienna owned a valuable grand piano and were conscious of the possibility of it being damaged in an air-raid and had contacted a close friend living in our area with a proposal that the piano be railed to this lady for safe keeping until the war was over.
Physical labour not being readily available, the local lady had asked one of the guards if PoW labour could be used to move the piano from the railway station to her home.
The guard had apparently seen in this an opportunity to ingratiate himself with both sides of the proposition and therefore approached us with offer of his own design.
In blissful ignorance of the whole story, we accepted the offer and manhandled the grand piano on to a sledge from the railway station to the camp. We unscrewed the legs and carried the piano into our sleeping quarters. Next we took out part of the dividing wall in the building to double the community area - this was relatively easy because the prefab sections were bolted together for easy assembly.
We had a wonderful musical Christmas, using our various talents to the full. This talent included an Australian who had earned a place as a solo pianist in one of Queensland's radio stations.
After using the piano during the Christmas week we had to take it apart again, load it onto a sledge and then a party of us had to push and pull the load for more than a kilometre along the snow and ice covered road to the lady's house.
On arrival we found that it then had to be taken up a narrow flight of stairs and reassembled in a large lounge room.
I was not fully competent in the German language, being self taught during my years in captivity. I had however learned enough to be regarded as an interpreter. When we were all set to leave I heard the woman ask the guard something about "der Klavier Stimmer". In a flash of inspiration I guessed the whole background to the various stories the guard had used to get the innocent compliance of all the parties concerned.
I intervened in the conversation to say that "No, the piano tuner had been unable to come with us because he was quite small and we needed a party of strong men to do the heavy hauling and lifting required".
She then said that she was not a good player herself but that she would like to hear the piano being played. I replied that one of our party was quite a good player and I then asked one of our English mates to sit down and play. This he did to the lady's satisfaction. She then produced a bottle of Schnaps and glasses and treated us all to a drink.
We then left to her words of profuse thanks and our promise to convey her appreciation to the 'piano tuner' for his help.
I had correctly guessed that while the guard had offered us the use of he piano as a bribe to do the heavy lifting involved, he had persuaded the recipient of the piano that after transport on a train it would have to be tuned and that fortunately there was a piano tuner among the Gefangenen in the PoW camp. Because he had to go out to work with the other prisoners, the piano would have to be left in the camp until after Christmas, which was when he would have the free time to do the tuning.
P.S. There was no piano tuner!
T O (Ossie) Phillips (NZer)
Ref: Ossie notes TPA Misc. reports
29 April 1941 - Taken prisoner in Greece Kalamata in southern Greece
Coming from Athens across Karinthos canal. Then canal bridge was bombed. British navy due at night didn't come. Scattered into hills during the day. German motorised units took Kalamata on Thursday night. Sergeant Jack Hinton got VC - utility truck drove at Germans and took guns.
Strafed and bombed during daylight. 3rd night saw lights at sea. Germans had British naval liaison officer - wounded only, taken off by navy.
Italian navy a threat 'Battle of Matapan'.
Fell asleep on beach - weak, hungry and no sleep. "Just march to the end of the beach boys", British voice on German armoured vehicle.
1 day on beach.
Train to Carnith - held 6 weeks. Train via Athens north near Lamia Tunnel bombed - march X range to Larisa.
Train to Salonika (1 week), no food.
On 1st '1000' train load out of Salonika on Sunday night with a loaf of bread (ryebread) and tin of ham and 2 biscuits - shut in trucks (goods) not cattle trucks. 50 to truck. Totally enclosed except for window 6ft up in diagonal corners, doors padlocked - no water, not enough room for everyone to sleep, not express trains, shunted off main lines regularly. Guards up front 2 per trucks, 2 allowed out per time for toilet or water bottles.
Belgrade on the Wednesday - 50% UK, 25% NZ, 25% Aust. Prisoners. New loaf of bread between 5 at Belgrade on Wednesday. X Yugoslavia to Maribor (Marburg).
Austria then Wolfsburg on train 2pm Friday pm. To Klagenfurt and Spital by truck (road) over mountain range Radstodt, then to Flachau (small town only) in 1 day. 150 POWs - winter - 32°C about August-March road building.
Stalag 18A (18 = German army area).
58 moved higher up mountain (hut and barb wire compound)
Then rail to Bischofshofen To Villach (main junction) then up to Bruck (Murz River) Kindburg and Mitterdorf (small villages) walking distance
Building a factory - blacksmiths shop - move into (volunteer) over winter.
(1 year - 18 months) then walked to next village. Germans
Railway job. Sub contracted by joinery and timber yard factory (prisoner work) dissatisfaction went on strike because of facilities and conditions.
Company commander a Captain - a Major (German) came from Graz to sort it out.
No facilities for washing or clothes or showers. Major quite amenable - fussy about cleanliness "Perhaps Germans didn't mind being dirty but we were particular" negotiations Ossie.
Could make wooden tubs and could fit up shower (18 x 3 + 2) 74 camp bunks in huts/rooms. Room at end for sick and medicine - 2 people max. Germans kept numbers reasonably constant. Guard took Ossie to plumbers to get rose of sprinkler to fit shower - made job last day or so. Jack Lapworth made tubs - week or two - stretch job out. Commandant decided not worth sending guard - local listened to Swiss radio and took notes in German gave to Jack (3 years). Brought notes back to camp. Ossie translated to English daily. Rest out on railway during day. Guards German and Austrian.
Translator for medicine/dentistry (didn't work on railway). Prisoners and local doctor or dentist. Eastern Austrian accent (dialect) (rural accent). Dentist.
Dr. Fellhubber (medical) aged 65 - real gentleman - appalled with Dr. Arklman (dentist) 40 yrs. Woman "Blondie" Annie 20-25 yrs (receptionist and dental work) got map of Austria - school atlas. Annie asked for home address. Ossie gave her. Could hear guns or bombing noise.
1945 Train back to Bruck. Instructions from Berlin. Thousands on the move. Made up into groups of 1000 to march across Austria (4 x 250) groups. Thru Leoben, X ranges, 18 days march to Bishofshopfen. Split (5 groups of 50) marked with so many metres between groups. Geneva Convention. Slept under trees - dirty and tired.
Bischofhopfen 10,000 prisoners many USA.
Showers not working - Johnny and I went to Commandant to get showers going - heated water all 50 hot showers - many had lived dirty possibly for months because couldn't get it to work. Just lay on grass in group of 50. Radio loud - heard Churchill say "the war would finish at midnight". 2pm 8th May 1945. Close to toilets - still had Red Cross parcels - eg. tea. Took door off toilet for fire to heat water for tea. Prisoners stripped wood off - building gone between guard walking around. Buried wood under greatcoats. Guard couldn't believe. 1st week of May.
War ended 9th May 1945.
Stole German truck - radio/radar. Stripped radio gear out - got 28 in. 4WD diesel 3-5 tons. I wheel drive not working - smashed it. Drivers - Jack Lapworth (from Leicester, UK) and Johnny Gross. 4-5pm in afternoon. Drove to Zell-am-See (by lake). Stopped often. Ossie had to talk way through German army officers. German troups on road waving. Asked for roads to autobahn between Salzburg to Munich. Asked Captain ( German) heading west north to autobahn. Driving truck on steep mountains, narrow roads, bridge - USA soldier had gun ready.
Ossie had to walk over bridge with hands up over bridge (midnight) and explain who are we. Very touchy situation. Called mates - went with tommy guns to back of truck - cheer from men on trucks. Crossed bridge - got out and heated water over fire then went on.
Reichs Autobahn 2am, foggy, fighting had been on between 2 big USA Negroes, frightened, trigger happy, nervous. Negotiate - could understand.
Heading west to Munich. Roadblock sign detour. Went for miles. Argument with drivers. Turned but had to go back same way. 3a.m. came to village with village green roundabout. USA troops around fire. Had to convince USA who they were. "are we on the right road to Munich?" to USA sergeant - woke up senior sergeant in guest house. Not impressed - spoke German. Ossie answered in German - nearly caused trouble. 10a.m. Munich - same tank of fuel. City of shambles 3 nights of bombing, 2 nights x 1000 bombers and 1 night of 1500 rubble on road just enough room for truck. Directed to aerodrome - run by USA army corp. all Negroes except 2 majors. Problems. Waited for several days for transport - told of aircrash - DC3's fitted for cargo as passengers but no seats. 28-30 people all on same plane.
Canadian Red Cross parcels at village - dried fruit (raisins and prunes) made wine August 1944. Barrel of beer purchased through commandant. Made vile wine - distil? - obtained copper pipe of railway loco and tub (wooden) (Nov.) snow fallen. Used jam tin and fed copper pipe through. Boiled water/snow and kept snow in wooden tub. Tested alcohol with match and burnt blue colour. Stove and use at Xmas - still vile. Xmas eve bash - Englishman ill "Tich" with alcohol poison. Doctor called - not usual as prisoners normally went to doctor. Xmas night doctor walked through snow.
Commandant and doctor - Ossie check patient.
Nov. 1947 wedding to Connie - met pre war.
Letter 1947. Drs. Imprisoned (3). Can you help? Dr. Kosar leading Nazi in village. Invalided out of Stallengrad - from Annie Gross? Sent letter reply "Commander"
English Army Forces in Eastern Austria in Vienna respond as medical orderly/translator of PoW camp. Support Arkel and Fellhubber, no support for Kosar. Letter from commandant. Thanking for letter.
Staff Sergeant Johnny Broome (accountant) senior person. Complaint made about commandant - removed as a result.
Flew to Brussels - medical check and issued with soap and allowed out on leave.
Report back urgently - all 28 marched to train station 10p.m. - France to station near Lille city. Small station marched still in group of 28 just after daylight - line of Lancaster Bombers lined up - bombers were in full active service.
24 per Lancaster bomber - divided up through plane. Ossie to navigator sent (Blister). Stood all the way to UK. Landed near Guildford south of London. All 28 safe in UK - amazing that arrived together.
10 months in UK. Then sailed for NZ/Aust. Got off at Perth. AWL. Trans Australia rail.
The above is a transcript of an interview I did with my father, during the 1990's, he died in 2000. Dad spoke very little about the POW period apart from odd funny stories. He was always very kind in his comments about the Austrian people. Tom Phillips
I have photographs of my late father, Edward Charles Victor Thompson 'Ted" taken inside XV111A. He was captured at Tobruk and was reported missing to my Grandparents on 22.7.1942. I know he was in this Stalag as I have photos with the Stalag stamp sent to him by relatives. Have a copy of his diary written on toilet paper this indicates he was captured on 21.6.1942. He spoke little of the war.
I am aware that Dad worked at the Graz railway station unloading potatoes most of the time!!! and the local people dropped food for the prisoners sometimes down trouser legs !!
My father was much loved and adored by all who met him. I am anxious to trace anyone who might remember him.
Thank you Diana Watts
My grandfather was a CSM in the RE and was captured in Greece in 1940 and held in Stalag 18a and 383. His name was Frederick William Maclaren ("Mac").
The members of his company.
I have an album of photos and other stuff from both camps, including his camp tag for 18a.
List of Prisoners
- A Ball
- "Arty" Bender
- Pte Eric Black (shot dead by a German guard, Leople Bruckner on 15 April 1944)
- J Bolinger
- H J Bran
- Pte Douglas Wilson Bulmer. HQ 6th Div AASC
- E Cashmore
- Ed Chatterley
- E Chatwin
- W Cole
- Maurice Copus
- W Dear
- Edward "Teddy" Patrick Dorian Read his Story
- Arthur Duggan Read his story
- Charles Fairman
- "Les" Farn
- "Pat" Fury
- Stuart Gibbons
- Walter "Bill" Gossner Read his Story
- L/Cpl Allan Goyen. HQ. 17 inf Bde.
- A Gregg
- Roy Harpwood
- W Harwood
- R Hooper
- Joe Johnson
- G Johnston
- W.T.Jordan. R.A.S.C.
- H A Kaplin
- "Norker" Knight
- R L Leggo
- Gordon W. Leigh
- George Smith Longster. Royal Corps of Signals. Read his story
- CSM Frederick "Mac" William Maclaren. R.E.
- J McDermid
- Pte E.J McDonald
- C McEvoy
- Padre McIver
- John Mann
- R Mason
- Arthur May. 3rd Batt Royal Tank Reg
- W Oliver
- Pte William Ottaway
- J Parker
- Michael 'Peggy' Parlon Read his story
- Dick Pattinson
- W .G.E. Pearce. Royal Engineers.
- T O (Ossie) Phillips (NZer)Read his story
- Eric Pooley. 2/5 Battalion.Read his story
- J Reid
- John Caleb Rivett. Gunner, Royal Artillery Read his story
- "Blondie" Robson
- John N Russell
- Laurie Stodart. 2/2 Army Fd Workshops.
- F Suddaby
- P Tarney
- Stan Tyquin
- Bbdr. William "Paddy" or "Dad" Walsh. Royal Horse Artillery Read his story
- Eric Williams
- L H Wright
If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.
If you have a story which you would like to share, or a website dedicated to a POW camp or prisoner of World War Two please get in touch. Add Your Story
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