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Prisoners of War


Stephen Garnett
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What happened to a serviceman's pay when captured?

In anticipation,

Stephen Garnett

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Stephen.

In answer to your question...... I havn't a clue. But it's such a good question it deserves an answer so I'm bumping it up to the top of the list.

Here's hoping for a specialist that can give an answer.

Regards

John

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John,

Many thanks for the bump-up. If a serviceman was captured and his fate known I can see no reason why his pay would not have continued, particularly if he had dependents. However, if he had no dependents, where would the pay have gone? Would it have been stored up in readiness for his return? Did POW's on their repatriation receive a bumper pay-packet? Were the Red Cross involved somehow?

If people do know the answers that will be great but if not and they can point me in the right direction, I will happily investigate.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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This might help, from the irish Newspapers;

Waterford News. January.1915.

Letter from Waterford Soldier in Germany.

Mr Thomas Threlfall, bandmaster of the Barrack Street Brass and Reed Band, has just received a letter from his son, James, who went out with the first British Expeditionary Force in August last. He fought with the 18th Royal Irish at Mons, Armentieres, and the Aisne, and was taken prisoner about six weeks ago. His letter, which was posted on November 26th, and received in Waterford yesterday morning, throws some light on the treatment of prisoners by the Germans. The text of the letter is as follows.

“Dear Mother and Father—Just a line to say I received your welcome letter and parcel. The money came in very handy, as we don’t get enough grub here. We are having plenty of cold, frosty weather; so the clothing came in handy, as I had no socks on me. I wish I could let you have some of my pay, as I have a lot to come, for I drew only five francs (4s.2d) since I left Devonport. We get treated very well here but, needless to say, I missed all the good things at Christmas, and thought of the happy times I had last year with you all. I hope you are all quite well. I will write to you again.—Your loving son.

“JIM.”

“Kriegagefangener,

5th Battn, 5th Troupe.

Hamel, Hanover.

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Often wondered this too.

Seem to remember in Lyn MacDonald's book "1915" there are quotes from a member of the Royal Naval Division who had been interned in Holland and later escaped back to England. References to his first pay day, having to hold out his cap as there was so many coins as he hadn't drawn any pay while interned. Not sure how accurate.

Jim

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Stephen,

I can vouch for the pay my grandfather received for working/training while interred in Switzerland. The attached shown it was held by Brinsmead & Sons in London. I have come across no reference as to back pay only a one-time pension on discharge. My great grandfather's diary told nothing of pay received for his son while interred and he kept pretty good records for someone in the early 1900's. (i.e. one month's rent received...$2.50 :D where did those days go!). I have seen pay receipts for his brother, but he was discharged early due to medical problems from gassing. Pop's pay book doesn't seem to have survived.

regards,

shawn

post-46808-1254272694.jpg

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I can answer your question with regard to officers. I have the Cox & Co. account book for 2/Lt. R. Hayward of the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment. The book covers the period 25 January 1918 until the end of November 1918.

Hayward was listed in Cox & Cos. List of British Officers as missing on 3 July 1916, he was interned in Holland from 16 May 1918 and finally repatriated on 22 November 1918.

The account book shows regular monthly payments, detailed as February pay, March pay etc. There are also regular monthly deductions, one of which is recorded as P/W deduction. The April pay was £15 15 0, with a P/W deduction of £2 8 0. Once he had gone to Holland the deductions were a much larger proportion of his monthly pay, he was also able to directly access his account and spend money from it.

I imagine a similar situation must have applied for the rank and file soldiers. I have a soldiers demobilisation account form (Army Form W 5065) for Gnr W B Chisholm, 318485, 2nd London HB, RGA who was captured in April/May 1915. In the column headed Soldiers Earnings, the balance due to him on arrival at the dispersal station was just over £90. I have seen similar forms to soldiers who were not captured, typical amounts received were between £3 and £6.

Regards

Steve

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Hi,

Certainly the soldier in museumtom's post expected to receive his full pay on repatriation. However, though we can not be sure this included his pay whilst a POW, both Steve and Jim's posts do indicate that pay did accumulate and was given to them on their return.

As for Shawn's grandfather and 2/Lt Haywood they do seem to have had access to their pay whilst interred. Did this money replace their service pay?

Many thanks for sharing your intriguing sources and ideas.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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All men received full pay during their time as PoWs. Some of their pay may have been disbursed in accordance with their wishes i.e. an amount may have been paid directly to their mothers or wives in the same way that it would for any serving man. Some was sent to them as PoWs but I am not sure of how i.e it may have been sent to their relatives for onward transmission or it may have been sent direct, usually sent as money orders. (David Pryde reported that the first handful of letters for Guestrow arrived in november 1914 and that parcels and money orders followed later) Again PoWs could make the arrangements and change them as PoWs once they were in communication. If there was no request for any disbursement the pay was kept for them. In addition, some terrier PoWs received pay from their employers, either full or part pay for a time. In addition to that, PoWs could earn money in Germany from work there. This money was in addition to their pay i.e. their army pay was not reduced. NB some skilled workers received a good rate of pay from their German employers.

There may have been slight differences between men and officers. Officers had access to their accounts by way of cheques (which is why Cox and Co got involved). Officers also received regular pay in Germany from the German authorities. There is a series of correspondence between Britain and Germany over officer payments as German officers in British hands were paid by the British Government. The Americans were also involved as the rate of pay for junior officers barely covered their bills for food (men had their food for free). I have no information as to whether their army pay was stopped or, because the correspondence is from 1915, whether they just did not have good access to their accounts at the time.

Doug

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Doug,

Many thanks, a clear explanation that helps place the above sources in context. Could you recommend a good starting point for reading on POWs?

Once again, thanks to all contributors. Your posts demonstrate the importance of the GWF.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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Stephen,

The first of these links here takes you to a free book and you can search for more, there are quite a number available.

The second link here is to a source of WO161 reports. Not many but they are free.

Doug

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Doug,

Many thanks once again. This makes for fascinating reading.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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Prisoners of War were treated appallingly [in the main, and as a generalisation] by friend and foe alike.

Without going into detail, I invite those interested to consult Hansard Historical on line, and read the truly shocking details revealed in debates, some by returned PoW officers who were also elected MPs. The treatment described is redolent of the current treatment of our returning wounded heroes. It is stomach-turning stuff, believe me.

There seemed to have been an underlying assumption that a man who put his hands up was a cowardly moral degenerate, worthy of little consideration, and to be classed alongside deserters, self-inflicted wounds, venereal cases, and the like.

No need to take my word for it, have a read.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons...9181029_HOC_322

Nothing changes, the politicians had and have little respect for the armed forces.

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Grumpy: thank you for posting a most telling and educational link. Regards, Antony

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Grumpy,

Many thanks for that link. The scale of suffering in these camps is quite incredible. Was the treatment of German Prisoners the same in terms of conditions and brutality?

Regards,

Steve Garnett

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