- Contributed by
- CSV Media NI
- People in story:
- Alex Dickson
- Location of story:
- Alexandria, Egypt
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 30 January 2006
The POW Camp
After a few months at that camp I was transferred to another camp again near Geneva on the Canal Zone and it was 2718 Independent Austrian Prisoner of War Camp.
As the name states the prisoners were all Austrian in the German army of course. I had quite a busy time there more or less the same as the last camp, except something unusual cropped up whilst I was there. The General Staff wrote to all prison camps saying they were disturbed the way payment had to be made to prisoners in goods because it took up so much working time and could each prison camp suggest what they would consider a better method of doing it.
Well I thought and thought about this and I put in a proposition that each camp should have a special wooden hut built as a shop. The hut would be stocked with all the items that they would normally buy and that each week the amount they earned would be entered in an account in the shop to their credit and when they wanted goods from the shop they signed a chit for what they wanted and that was debited from their account. We had two prisoners who were paid the higher rate, one and a half pence an hour, full-time in the shop who kept the accounts and issued the goods.
I recommended this scheme and it was accepted by the General Staff as the best proposition and we were ordered to put it into effect and to see how it worked over a couple of months. Well I did the job reasonable quickly, I got the shop built and staffed and all the rest of it and it did work out remarkable well and saved an awful lot of work for the young officers, I mean, we no longer had to sit issuing razor blades and stuff it was all done through the shop.
Then they issued an instruction throughout the Middle East to every prison camp that this new scheme was now in operation at 2718 Independent Austrian Prisoner of War Camp and that in their opinion every other prison camp in the Middle East should do exactly the same thing because the workers in camps were being paid correctly and there was no money changing hands.
They suggested that two officers from each camp should visit 2718 prison camp to see this system in operation. Well this happened, it was really rather funny in a way, nearly every day there were a couple of officers arriving, some of them from long distances, they would report to Major Crabtree, who was my CO and he would immediately send for me. He would say, "Look, Mr Dickson here are another two people to see round this new scheme about the shop, I am too busy to show them round, would you show them round and explain it all to them"
I was quite happy to as he was an old first war officer and I think I knew probably more about the scheme than he did as I had set the scheme up, so I was kept quite busy doing this.
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