Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : History Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

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 Canal.

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 18A.

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 dozens....

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 nothing.

TO BE CONTINUED


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