Philip Baker
Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:43 (XFF:

Dear Sue,

It seems that E794 was also known as Bau und Arbeits (Building and Labour) Battalion 20 (BAB 20 for short) (E794),Hydebreck. Each BAB had about 200 men.

The place names can be rather confusing. The town today is called Kedzierzyn-Kozle, but it has various districts, including Kedzierzyn (Heydebreck) and Blachownia (Blechammer).

Hydebreck (or Heydebreck)was where the BAB was based, though apparently later on in the war it was re-located at Reigersfeld (now called Bierawa) which is about 5 miles further south.

Blechammer was (and still is) a huge chemical factory - or complex of chemical factories. One of their projects during the war was the manufacture (or attempted manufacture) of synthetic oil. It was heavily bombed by the Americans.

The BAB battalions seemed to be general labouring workforces, doing whatever kind of work the Germans decided to force upon them. On the BBC Peoples' War website there is mention of this by a Mr Eric Reeves, who was in E793. He says:

"In June 1942 we were transported to Blechhammer, Hydebreck in Upper Silesia. We were now at an oil refinery, which I believe was on the point of being completed. At this camp we were forced to unload anything that came daily by rail etc. Blechhammer employed about 50,000 slave workers. Forced labour from all over Europe:
Concentration Camp Jews - Gypsies, political prisoners - Convicted felons
German Army soldiers under punishment
During 1944 we were bombed from June and every month thereafter by the American Army Airforce. Tragically, we lost some of our mates. We were not allowed to go into the air raid shelters, which among other things we had been forced to build. The other nationalities there were also hard hit."

Earlier in his account Mr Reeves says more about the sort of work they had to do in the BABs, so this might be similar to what your father experienced:

"We laboured in gravel pits, broke up brick rubble for road building within the training area and "filled in" shell holes on the artillery ranges. We were made to collect the "heads" of sunflowers grown on acres of land."

I hope this is useful to you.

We visited the place where your father was on our last trip to Poland / Lamsdorf in September, and visited a small museum there, which is very good. We are going again in May and September next year.

Best wishes,


  • E794sue, Thu Oct 26 20:35
    Does anyone know what type of work the prisoners at E794 did.My Dad ( Stan Smith) was transferred there from 344 in March 1944,having originally been taken prisoner during the Dieppe raid.
    • E794 — Philip Baker, Mon Oct 30 11:43
      • E 794Sue, Tue Oct 31 21:31
        Thanks Philip that was really helpful and cleared up a mystery, as I thought Dad was at Hydebreck but on his German war records it said E794 Reigersfeld. Dad did mention about the air raids..
    • Re: E794Jayne Turvey, Sat Oct 28 02:04
      I'm not sure what you mean by E794, but my dad was also taken prisoner during the Dieppe Raid and spent nearly three years in Stalag VIIIB. They were sent out on working parties on railway lines,... more
      • E794sue, Sun Oct 29 15:57
        Thanks for the reply. E794 was his work camp formerly BAB 20. He was in the Royal corps of signals but I don't know which group he was with at Dieppe. I know he left this camp on the 21st January to... more
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