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rylstone kandos history

Kandos and Rylstone History P.28

kandos rylstone veteran servicerylstoen kandos ww1

 

Transcript of Laurie's tape cont.
 

laurie mcleaud

 

Laurie brought some photos taken in the Stalag to show the students.
 
Laurie: The real battle dress, the English battle dress, that's what we got through the Red Cross. We finished up, we escaped a couple of times, and on a tram at a place near Wordsberg (not sure of spelling or place) they were taking us back to the stalag.
 
On the train at Worthsburg the conductors came around and they pulled us up. There were three of us got picked up. Two of us were outside on the platform of the tram, and I was inside with the people and they were passing remarks about how good the clothes were. And the conductress wanted to throw us out.
 
But the conductress on the tram, she got annoyed with me, I don't know what she called me, but it was of a curse I think. That's when we got picked up.
 
They put us on a tram to take us to the railway station. It was four people. They sat on each side. And there were three of us. The guard with us, he stood out on the platform of the tram with my two mates, and I was inside with the people. And they were saying, oh lovely material in your clothes. They were admiring my clothes. And she wanted me out onto the platform, roaring at me. And I ignored her. I took no notice of her.
 
We had the meals with the farmer at his place. So we had mostly black bread in the morning, it's bread that's just dark. I think it's made from rye, I'm not certain.
We had, everything else was good food, it was good food. Because you had to work hard, so the food was good. The only time it was bad, was when we was in a prison camp in Serogia, we had to sort of do the best you can. We lost weight there, while we were in Serogia in Greece.
 
We farmed potatoes, all the old fashioned way. Potatoes, rye, grain, even fruit trees. And they used to make their own snaps, their own grog. They were allowed once a year to use their still. The still was sealed up and they weren't allowed to use it, but the government at the time would give them permission and they took the seal off and they were allowed to make snaps. And in the cold weather, the snaps was pretty potent. They'd give you a little charge when you were working out in the snow. And it was pretty powerful to warm you up.
 
The people did not really know the Jews were being annihilated.  They knew that they were being ill-treated. But they didn't seem to know about the big camps. No. They knew that they were abused and had to wear the star, they knew all about that. They knew that they were brow beaten, but they didn't know about the slaughter part.
 
In the night time when you are working on the farms, they put you in stalls, and if you go out in the streets they would shoot you on sight. I tried to escape a couple of times, and that's why, when you came back you had to do a couple of months locked up, and  you were allowed out in the morning to walk around for a bit of exercise. But they locked you up for a month.
 
We pulled a window out and escaped. We weren’t away long and we got picked up. We walked part of, at a place called Worthsburg.  We were trying to get to Switzerland if we could. And when we come to the river Mayne, which goes through to Switzerland, we said, we can't get across here, we'll try tomorrow. So we went to the ground in some scrub there and camped the night.
 
And in the morning we heard "Rifles Down!" and we looked out, and this was where the German troops were training. And what they were training for was camouflage. And they trained, and two of the squad had to come in this scrub, and there were 3 of us prisoners in it, and they came into the scrub and they sailed in and overthrew us, and they went out and told the bloke in charge, and they got us out, and we were in a parade ground, of all the places we picked to camp, it was a German parade ground. Of all places!
 
We ran through the forest at night when we escaped. They looked after the forests well. They had plantations. And we camped in there and at night time, and camp in there during the day.
 
The first time we escaped, we went to a work camp of Australian soldiers that were out somewhere and we went there. And from there we went to work in the sawmills. The first time we surrendered voluntarily because we were out of food. The second time we were caught on the parade ground.
 
We used to save the chocolate up for something to eat when we escaped. When I was captured they took me back to the stalag. They put us on the train and took us back. When we were captured on the parade ground, they took us back to a different village, Ladore, and that's where the mill was, a sawmill. That was the first place I saw a chainsaw. It was a big saw, and it took two men, one on one side and one on the other.
 
They had a couple of draught horses. We didn’t drive it; a German drove it. And both horses were working pulling the wagon. And one time when I was snigging a log, I hit a wasps’ nest and the wasps got stuck into me and into the horse. The horse kept going and so did I. I had some cigarettes, and I puffed cigarette smoke around myself. I had nothing to put on the stings. I had lumps all over me, all over my head and body. The American that took over the Stalag was Paton. Paton's army.
 
I learnt to speak German a bit. There's a funny thing about that too. We were working the ground. me, Belgians and Russians and that.  And I was working with the Russian one day and we was talking to one another, I didn't understand Russian, and he didn't know English, so we used to speak to one another in German, in what we picked up. And there was a German there, and he said ........."you understand Russian", I said "Oh Yeah," but we were speaking German. And he didn't understand us.
 
I saw a lot of places during the war.  I've been to Scotland, the South of England, London. I didn't get to Ireland or the Isle of Skye, I’d have liked to have got to the Isle of Skye because that's where the McLeods came from and I didn't get there, but I touched the Prague, Prague beach. I've done all those things. I had a leave pass to go up to the top of Scotland, but I never got that far. I got to Glasgow and went to Edinburgh.
 
Back from the Yugoslav border, Pompelli, Thermopylae is the place where the Spartans fought the Persians in history. And the Spartan women carried the warriors when they were killed on their shields away from the battle area.
 
Stalag, I think, means a meeting place where they keep people. A prison. Stalac 13c, originally, was for mounted troops, because where we stayed in them, they were brick stables made into dormitories. And over the doorway, they had a cover to protect the doorways for the horses to come out.
 
The girls had geese. In the wintertime, they'd get the geese in and they'd pluck all the down off the chest and the flank, and putting them in a container, and they'd let the goose go and they'd grow more, later. And they made doonas out of the feathers.
 
Greece is a mountainous country, it straightens out and you have to cross the mountains and the road goes over this pass and then you have more passes to go through. But real mountainous country it was.

 

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