When springtime rolled around we decided to go to a work-party to escape. Mem wanted to go to a party which consisted of Jews in the British Army. I swapped over with one Herbert Fellner, I think he came from Birmingham. We went to a large camp at Katowitz. This was a huge coal producing area on the Polish border. There was Beuthen and Hindenburg on the German side and Katowitz and Sosnowitz on the Polish side. The whole area was undermined by coal tunnels.

Our camp had a parade square surrounded by our individual huts, cookhouse, etc. There were about twelve men to a hut, it was quite comfortable after Lamsdorf. Our food was communal, everything including Red Cross parcels went to the cookhouse. Some astute trading of coffee and cigarettes greatly helped the bulk of food available, and strangely enough, in this Jewish camp I had my best rations during captivity. The Germans treated us like other British POWs but if you escaped and were caught in the vicinity you were generally shot, always with the same story, shot while refusing to surrender, etc.
Mem and I got jobs working over ground as it would have been much more difficult to escape if you were working as a miner underground. I was cautioned never to complain of being sick, as there was a German midwife who examined you and if you looked physically able to work underground you went. Over ground we would do odd jobs carry rails, timbers, etc. The Jews were a frustrating lot for the Germans to get any work out of.
They would always argue and squabble amongst themselves. So if four men were carrying something it was never a simple matter of picking it up and going, an argument would follow which men should go to which end. Then once you got going someone would stop and complain his partner wasn't carrying his full share. They were full of tricks and dodges and actually accomplished very little work. At noon we would stop for a lunch break. We had a tin shelter and when you were in there it was a noisy cacophony of Hebrews, they all seemed to speak at once. There was an Australian Airforce swop over there as well, so we would bang the tin sides and they would be quiet for a few moments then start all over again. The Jews were from all over Europe. Most of them didn't look very fit and few of them had done manual work before the war. They were a quarrelsome lot, squabbling amongst themselves with the occasional fist fight. Many of them did not like the work-party and were always trying to get transferred back to Lamsdorf. Some even resorted to drinking benzene so their heart would race and some filled a rubber hose with sand and would try to break their arm. The German woman midwife who checked medical complaints would accept the racing heart but unless the broken arm was externally visible then the POW was back on the work-party, often with a hairline fracture.

One fellow named Talk was from Vienna and he was always meeting guards from there. He even got one guard to take him to a local brothel. Talk and the Australian chap, Bill Reid, did escape and got back to England. Another one I recall was an Arab Jew. He was a happy go lucky type and he managed to get some raisins from the Red Cross parcels at the cookhouse. Sunday was a day off and he was distilling the raisins into alcohol but the pipes he had scrounged for distillation were coated with benzene so the alcohol was undrinkable, he was most disappointed in the result. This was the time of the "Great Escape from Sagen, which was made into a movie. The authorities were very angry over the Great Escape and a circular came to all camps, essentially saying that any POW caught escaping would be shot. In fact they weren't, but our camp commander was fearful of Mem and I getting shot so he informed the Germans about us.

We were sent to an International Camp at Teschen, Czechoslavakia for a few days. This camp was a transit camp and had Italians, Russians, French Foreign Legion Spaniards, a few British and other odds and sods. The Italians were in a great dither, the Germans told their erst while allies that they had to go and fight with them on the Russian front. The Spaniards, who were all Communists, said they would cut the Italians throats if they agreed to German demands. Every afternoon an Italian Padre in a red robe would gather them into a hut and they would all be talking at once deciding what to do. Fortunately for them, the Germans eventually figured that as fighters the Italians would be a liability, so they sent them out to work-parties.

Mem and I were sent back to Lamsdorf and after the usual two weeks in the bunker, everything was back to normal. It had been an interesting excursion to see how the German war effort was being maintained in spite of all the shortages they had. Also to work with the civilian "slave workers and German civilians who were all old or crippled in some way. We also saw the Jews with their pyjama like cloths with the Star of David on the back. They were all old men, children and women and they looked to be starving and in desperate condition. At Teschen the resistance fighters would come down from the hills and harass the Germans, almost on a nightly basis. They would kill any German soldiers they could overpower.

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