Date: 1 Jan 1947
Waldemar Bergau died after drinking anti-freeze which he said had been given to him by a woman in a gin bottle.
Waldemar Bergau died from heart failure and congestion of the lungs.
He and several other soldiers had drunk the anti-freeze on New Year's Day. Two other prisoners were also taken ill and taken to the City Hospital but recovered. Another one of the Germans that had taken the drink said that he had not liked it, stating that it tasted sickly and sweet.
The police said that they were trying to find out where the anti-freeze had come from. Waldemar Bergau had been employed on building sites in Plymouth and it was suggested that one of the Germans might have come across the bottle, which was not marked in any way, whilst working on a housing site.
They said that they were satisfied that they had not come across the anti-freeze at the POW camp and later said that they were satisfied that they had not been intentionally given the bottle by anyone. However, they added that they were not able to say how they had come across the bottle.
The anti-freeze mixture had been in a gin bottle of the type specially used for export and for the Navy. They said that it was not the sort of bottle that would normally be in the hands of a civilian.
It was noted that Waldemar Bergau had told his comrades that a woman had given him the bottle, but the police said that their investigations showed that that was not so, noting that there had been no civilians anywhere near where he had been working at Staddon Fort.
It was noted that until recently, the Navy had been in occupation of Fort Staddon, and that it was thought quite possible that the bottle had been used there for keeping anti-freeze or that someone had taken the anti-freeze mixture in the bottle to their house and that Waldemar Bergau might have then had access to it.
Waldemar Bergau was from Hamburg. He was buried at Weston Mill Cemetery on Tuesday 7 January 1947. There were twenty German mourners, six of whom carried his coffin. He was buried in a part of the cemetery where other German military personnel were buried during the war. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the mourners sang a hymn in German.
see Western Morning News - Wednesday 08 January 1947
see Western Morning News - Monday 06 January 1947
see Daily Mirror - Saturday 04 January 1947