- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Alexander George MALLETT 4399868
- Location of story:
- LEROS Isle to STALAG 17B Germany
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 February 2005
Alexander Mallett in his Green Howards Uniform before he was shiped out too Syria
Foreword (written at rear of book)
This logbook was given to me for my performance in the play “Face at the window”. Owing to it being uncensored and am taking a great risk in putting the whole truth about the Germans or putting in anything detrimental to the German propaganda and its military. Triumph the surrender of LEROS, the island on which I was taken prisoner. I also ran the risk of penal solitude at a concentration camp for the anti German notes about the administration of prisoners of war. At one time, I had to bury this book for 3 months to escape detection by Gestapo and SS troops.
Page 1 (My autobiography before taken prisoner)
I joined the Kings C. Royal Regiment from the Green Howards. My station was in Syria. After a long journey from Egypt, I ….. arrived at my new regiment near Beriut, Syria. Saturday evening it was the 3rd of October 1945, Hot, dusty and mosquitos, we arrived washed, fed and changed into clean kit. We were shown to our tents, little did we know we were to change camps the following morning, but we did. 4 o`clock in the morning, we were told to pack our kit and be prepared to move out at 6 o`clock, yes, 6 o`clock we were supposed to move. It was 4 o`clock in the evening before we did. What a day. I was told it was through malaria that we had to move camp. I did not wonder at all, for it was absolutely stinking with malaria and disease. The regiment was already under strength by 200 men. Through malaria, fly fever and dystenry. God almighty, 200 men, fit men, ready for battle, struck down inside 1 week. The other camp was below a little village named Sarafang, quite a good site. It was clean and tidy and just a small percentage of disease. The camp was prepared for C.O inspection. It passed, that was to be our camp for three weeks hard training
Believe me, it was training. I never did so much walking and climbing in all my life. We only saw the camp at nighttime and then we did not see it. It was dark and we were so tired. Long distance marching, different climbing, forced marches without water, forced marches without food, oh god, when is it going to end. We soon know. The C.O called a parade, he said we could have two days rest and we were to move to another camp. He also said he would be proud to lead us into battle and so we suffered the latter. Yes, the 31th of October 1943 we moved from Syria to Alexandria, Egypt, landed at Alexandria on the 1st of November 1943, determined and after 4 hours waiting, got onto the trucks and drove through the Egyptian night to the docks. Imagine our surprise, when we boarded, a very fast destroyer bound for, well the C.O knew and we only guessed. After a very cramped voyage, we landed at Leros, an island in the Dodecaise on the morning of 4th of November 1943 after marching for miles round and round the island (no transport), climbing steadily all the time, we got to our destination. At last the place allocated to my company B. The Company Commander, they split us up into platoons to different sectors of the defence. Of course that was more climbing for my platoon. We settled down for a rest in our new position facing the sea about 1000 feet up. Night drew on and we managed to sleep till dawn. Then it started. Phew! Stukas during the day and blasting trenches in solid rock during the night.
Page 3 (After the battle of Leros Isle) 12 solid days, 11 nights that happened, no sleep, men on the edge, cold and hungry. The platoon moved down to the beach, yes the battle had started, the enemy had done the impossible after his sea invasion has failed, losing 9000 men at the time he landed troops by parachute. Oh hell, what a mess, it was absolute massacre, mass murder and dead and wounded, lying around, jeeps flashing back and forth to hospital. That were being bombed, click, click, gun going 25 pounders, going … guns, more and more paratroops, pushing towards the right (no stukas), Germans pushing back during the day, helped by his aircraft. 2 days battle, ammunition firing out for all guns and small arms weapons. The Navy could not risk ships to send ammunition, what we were firing was dropped by the allied planes. I saw two dougs which flew over the island at nighttime. 2 more days, firing ammunition, exhausted and hungry, we were drawing the Germans to the sea. Then came the order to withdraw to Port Elargo, ack-ack and ar tiger guns knocked out. An order for the surrender of the island by the German high command who gave us the biggest stuka display ever seen. They were prepared to bomb both the German troops and British troops get to the island at all costs. We withdrew fighting all the way to Port Elargo. There I joined a body of men going back to the front with a few scattered rounds. We were prepared to give the Germans no easy victory. If we had no ammo, then we would use cold steel….. the island had surrender to the Germans, not through lack of fighting spirit just through lack of Navy and Air Force cover.
Page 4 (My journey from Athens to Stalag 7A)
17th November 1943 POW in German hands. We were al herded together like sheep, not British soldiers taken to a large house at the edge of the bay at Port Elargo. For 4 days the food was macaroni, had meat once a day. Till all the stragulerswere rounded up and we embarked for Greece on the 21st of November 1943, believe me, that darned boat had a flat bottom, in fact we did not know whether it was a submarine or airplane. 24hrs it took us to go about 60 kilos, we disembarked at Athens on the 22nd, herded onto the quayside and photographed from all angles, then we started to march to our temporary prison camp. From the docks to the prison camp (when we marched back) was about 10 kilos but it took us about 9hrs to reach our destination, we were marched through Athens just for propaganda reasons. We arrived about 9 o`clock at night, at a huge stone building used for making aero engines. The place was kitted out with mattresses and benches etc, sawdust was poured onto a dirty concrete floor. That was our bed for two weeks.
Page 5 (Trials and tribulations at a German working camp)
The majority of the English prisoners had a kit or blankets for the first few days.
The day required to fall into rear hall with 50 for marching around the building, for coffee, that took about 2 hrs. You washed if you could get water and you fell in for dinner time. You fell in against and you went around the building again for a small ladle of spaghetti, that took 2 hrs again, tea and then you had coffee, 1 loaf of black soft pudding kind of substance they called bread and some butter like lard. Sometimes the menu changed, we had jam instead of butter and boiled cabbage for dinner. The butter cam in handy to grease boots. A large majority of men were sick with dystenry, fly fever and malaria. To buy bread it cost 500 liras that was 400 to the English pound. In England, the same loaf cost about 1and half less. We saw the biggest display of British soldiers on the day we left the building on the way to the station. We were going to Germany.
At the station we were carted off into 40 or 50, just depended upon the size of the cattle wagon. I was in a small one with 39 other men. There was one bail of straw to put on the floor of the wagon that was our bed for 12 days and 11 nights of that hellish journey to Germany. I saw a lot of cruelty by German troops to the people of Greece while marching to and while waiting at the station. Yes, straw for our bed but at nighttime we found 40 men could not lay down at once. Two buckets were used for sanitary purposes. Imagine five men with dystenry and the buckets were emptied once a day. For 4 days and 4 nights we were not allowed out of the wagon. Of rations was 2 station biscuits per man about 4” square and 1 station tin of bully between 3 men for 24 hrs. the bully was about the size of 2” tin of Nestles milk. We had an issue of cold potato soup three times on that journey as an added luxury. We travelled right through latter states, just before we travelled over the border of Greece, we were allowed out of the wagon to do our business, the Greek people turned away but not the Germans. There was no water on the trip; we used to lick the windows on the inside of the wagon that had been frozen.
We arrived at Stalag 7 on a cold frosty morning Sunday. Christmas day on the Friday when we stepped out of the wagon, we were that weak, we could hardly stand. We reached the POW camp that was just near the station, as luck would have it. Searched, interrogated and generally messed about till after about 6 hrs, walking, sitting, standing, we were sent to a barrack room. 2 tier beds, 12 beds to a block, about 9 or 10 blocks, one stove/heater. I had a cold-water bath. It was freezing outside. We were issued with a Red Cross parcel of food and were we grateful. On Christmas day we had two, as there was not enough Christmas parcels to go round. We left 7A on the 30th of December 1945, bound for 17A, that was a four day journey from Munich to Kaisor, just a short journey actually. On that journey we had 20 blankets and one stove in the wagon. We travelled over New Years Eve and day and we got to 17A on 2nd January 1946. There we were split up into working camps and send out to Aumando, I left 17A with 49 other blokes on the 16th January 1946.
Page 8 (Back to Stalag 17B)
We arrived on the 17th at Ollern, a town quite close to Vienna at about 4.20am and we were pretty stiff after travelling, 50 men per wagon for 20 cold hours. We were told we would have to walk about 4 kilos (2 and half miles), yet the guard did not know where we were to be stationed from 4.30am to 9.30am, we marched in bitter cold, wind and sleet, 5 hrs to walk 10 kilos (so we got to know later) the guard must have been walking us around in circles. Climbing steadily, we eventually reached our destination on top of a huge hill. I can still remember the climb, it was torture. The flat or billet was quite new, no electricity or water no fire or fuel. Poola tells us to fill some packing with wooden straw and go to our beds allocated to us in the rooms. The rooms were 1 large room for 20 double tier beds and 1 small for 5 beds, you could not swing a cat around in any of the rooms. A mazonett for 4 guards, with room for 10 men and 1 for the under Officer. That room was as big as the mazonett; the guards had more room than the POWs. The cookhouse was 6ft by 4,5 ft approx, …smaller with a last war soup kitchen on two wheels. We started to work the next day digging a trench to lay cables
Little did we know it was for our own benefit, it was nearly a week before we finally laid the cable and a week before the electricity was switched on in the billet. We had no Red Cross parcels for 5 weeks, of course that could not be helped our mail of confidence had just moved to Stalag 17B just after their deliverance
(in pencil) 5 0r 6 months work with poor rations and Red Cross parcels…D Day June 5th, left Kindo through loads of ….. 17B.
Arrived…..clothes deloused, life in Stalag very easy, no work, better food, played football a little.
Page 10 (In which I try the stage)
Stage work — started producing concerts in Stalag. 1st….success, never looked back. Drama “face at the window” — a great success. Very difficult to stage when…the audience. …..of Stalag, out to Kindo on 23rd October, Potter…..working in railway 430am to 6pm, hard graft. December — less food, no parcels, working longer hours from 4.30am to 12 midnight, 7pm — up the next morning working 18 to 22 hrs a day. Can be called out any time of night. April 9th 1947, Russians advancing from Vienna. All KG to evacuate.
Marched St Potter….Another stop Karransumso..weeks from back in the Tyrol to Belgravia and back 35 kilos, American advancing towards us. All guards run away on May 5th 1947, 3 yanks in jeep. Moved to Kiad, stopped at Hotel Garther. Good time. To the airfield at Packing.
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