ERIC POOLEY'S STALAG 18A
Like Michael 'Peggy' Parlon, Eric Pooley was a member of the 2/5
Battalion. And, as was the case with Parlon, he was captured in
Greece on April 29, 1941 after the Germans parachuted onto the Corinth
His account of being left behind at Kalamata -'Puckapunyal -
Death to the Eagle - You'll be Sorry - offers some rare insights
into the experiences of the POWs who rode the cattle trains to Stalag
SO BEGINS THE TALE:
SOJOURN IN THE REICH
The events which preceded the surrender of Greece: There were 11,000
Allied troops brought to Corinth, formerly a Greek Army Headquarters,
which originally adequately catered for 3,000 men.......
The Corinth camp was already a dysentery ridden, bug infested,
waterless encampment ....We settled down to a bitter month or two,
trying to get some protection from the icy Spring nights and the
heat of the midday sun, under most difficult conditions. The men
were in the frame of mind that they were let down and we were now
facing something that had not been in our focus - hunger - it was
striking us in great waves - and lack of water.
We had experienced this in Libya, and now it was an endurance test
to get enough to fill a steel helmet, until more could be brought
into the camp. Lack of overcoats and blankets made nights hideous.
The hospitals contrived out of outbuildings were filled to the passages
and there was little or no drugs or equipment. Flies and fleas crawled
over all and sundry.
Another factor to cope with was, of course, when the battle of
Crete continued - to their discomfiture - a company of SS men was
sent to institute reprisals.
The food supplied to the British at this time amounted - man per
week - 1lb of rice, and 1 1/2 lbs of bread or biscuit, 2 ozs sugar,
2 teaspoonfuls of olive oil. ...................
My worst experience was copping a dose of dysentery - and had a
few days of it. There is no doubt the water was the cause of it.
It came from a very unhygienic well and, of course, one had to use
it and drink it, and that was the result - dysentery. It was killing
Shortly after Greece fell the move up to Salonika began. The first
batch tramped out of camp. The British had blown up Brallos Pass,
so the weary, and by now weak prisoners were forced to march the
30 miles in one long staggering struggle up the mountain and down
the plain to Lamia.
They were driven like cattle at the point of bayonet in an epic
march, which no-one who endured it will ever forget. Five men in
my party died.
The heat and the dust of that hot June day was tremendous as we
struggled down to the station. One German guard died in our midst,
the other guards were all relieved of duties as soon as they arrived.
One picture stands out in my mind. It was on top of Brallos Pass.
About 30 sailors of the H. M. S. Gloucester trudged barefoot along
the road, the only garments they had was what they had on when rescued.
One sailor's feet were bleeding and blistered. A German officer
stopped and said to the bearded one - in English - 'get in'. The
reply was 'I don't ride with any bloody Jerry' and he plodded on.
That was the spirit that day; we asked for nothing and expected
TO BE CONTINUED