|Stalag VII A: Oral history|
|Peter Howard Field||
The story of an Australian POW
"My uncle's name was Peter Howard Field, born 7 March 1919, at Glenelg, Adelaide, South Australia. He was a bus driver prior to entering into the Australian army.
He entered the army into the 2nd AIF - Signals on the 6th of May 1940 in Adelaide, South Australia (service no. SX2719). Was taken on strength into the Southern Command and embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on the 10 August 1940 aboard the Greta, arrived in Bombay 3 September 1940 and then Palestine 12 October 1940. He was then attached to the 2/2 Field Regiment. Embarked in the Middle East for service in Greece on 26 March 1941. Was reported missing on the 7 June 1941 in Crete. (I am not sure of the exact circumstance regarding his capture and probably will never know).
Confirmed POW at Stalag VII A by International Red Cross on 28 October 1941. (Stalag VII A records show no Australian POWs in Stalag VII A, I assume Australian POWs were listed as British. This shows he must have been one of the earlier POWs at Stalag VII A).
If I remember correctly he told us that whilst on transit to Stalag VII A, they were being transported via rail cars, and whilst in Austria enroute to Stalag VII A while the train had stopped he was looking out of one of the vent slots, when there was a lot of SS and Gestapo officers milling around the rail area. He believed that he actually saw Adolf Hitler himself at this time. A German soldier hit him in the nose with the butt of his rifle, breaking his nose for being impertinent enough to cast his eyes on the Fuehrer.
I am not sure of whether the following occured in Stalag VII A or in Stalag VIII B, but the situation was poor and both POWs and German guards were starving and the POWs were not getting their Red Cross packages in full if at all. They resorted to killing a German guard dog to eat.
He escaped from Stalag VII A (I do not know how) around July/August 1943 and was recaptured at the Swiss border from where he was transferred to Stalag VIII B until liberation in 1945.
The dates are correct as are the internments at Stalag VII A and VIII B as recorded by the Australian Defence Force Archives. The other information is only what I remember him telling us as kids when he spoke of the war which was not often. He was awarded the 1939/45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal and the Australian Service Medal.
He died a couple of years ago know which makes a lot difficult to substantiate, I wish I had taken a keen interest in genealogy a few years earlier as I may have been able to document his history more acurately. We were all close to Uncle Peter and he is missed immensely by us."
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