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German PoWs In Britain.


Guest redrum
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Guest redrum

Does any one know if many German prisoners were allowed to stay on in Britain after the war? Thousands apparently did after 1945 but what about after 1918?

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Guest Pete Wood

My understanding is that German PoW's were not released as quickly as their British counterparts.

I have seen photos of German prisoners still working the land, in the UK, in early 1920.

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  • 3 months later...
Guest JHPravatiner

As I understand, repatriation of German PoWs occurred mainly between July-November 1919; a few were left till 1920. The very last to go home were men incarcerated from the German skeleton crews of the ships of the Imperial High Seas Fleet scuttled in Scapa Flow, June 1919.

I'm trying to poke a bit at conditions for Central (mainly German, admittedly) prisoners in Britain during WWI...almost all the literature concerns Allied prisoners in German camps, particularly at war's end when conditions really took a downturn with the abysmal conditions prevailing throughout Germany from the blockade.

The few glimpses I've gotten have been mainly of officer's camps. The 1907 Hague Convention's provisions are open to interpretation and thus leaves many exploitable loopholes for those with an axe to grind, unfortunately, and it looks like some on both sides may have done so.

I get the impression, as in Germany, that there was a range of treatment. I've found nothing of outright malice thus far, but there seems to have possibly been neglect in some cases...I've read everything from an account of very gentlemanly treatment at Donington Hall down to a tale of awful diet and malnutrition (particularly after the Armistice) at Colsterdale. I'm particularly curious about somewhere like Dyffryn Aled which had a good number of U-boat commanders, a particularly reviled breed in WWI Britain.

Does anyone have any good information (or readily accessible sources like books?) about conditions for German PoWs in British camps?

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Does anyone have any good information (or readily accessible sources like books?) about conditions for German PoWs in British camps?

Panayi Paniakos The Enemy in our Midst: Germans in Britain during the First World War (Berg, 1991) is your best bet - although it covers the whole experience, in particular the campaign for internment, rather than this topic alone. A recommended read. Matthew Stibbe is currently writing a flip-side work on Britons in Germany which I expect will be excellent also; due out early next year.

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Does anyone have any good information (or readily accessible sources like books?) about conditions for German PoWs in British camps?

Hello

You should get "Fipps: Legendary U-Boat Commander 1914-18", a WW1 autobiography by Werner Furbringer.

Versions in English are available (on ebay etc.), but the original was written in German (naturlich) in the 1930s.

Werner was captured by the British in 1917 and the last chapters of his book outline the POW camp in which he saw out the remainder of the War. Again, no mention of malice at these places, but a certain amount of intentional neglect and shortages. He also met up with his brother, who had been captured in 1915 after being sunk by a British submarine.

Richard

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Guest JHPravatiner

Hi Richard,

Actually, I've read "Fips"...that was where I heard about the neglect and bad food in Colsterdale. Fürbringer was captured in the summer of 1918 off UB-110 and didn't get back to Germany till late 1919, and as the officer in charge of food at Colsterdale certainly had ample opportunities to observe...

His brother Gerhardt was captured in 1915...U-40 or U-41; he and Werner didn't meet up until 1919 as Gerhardt was interned in Holland.

Even Robert Moraht, commander of U-64 and and Senior German Officer at Colsterdale gives a hint or two that all wasn't dandy; I don't recall the direct quote from his book "Werwolf der Meere", but it translated to something like the men having to expend enormous effort to keep sound in body and mind at the camp.

I'll check out the Panikos, though! Thanks to both of you for the suggestions.

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According to his eldest daughter, my grandfather finished his army career after the armistice guarding German POWs at Warley barracks, Essex.

I am uncertain as to whether there were POWs held at Warley - Ian Hook of the Essex Regiment Museum had never heard of it. Given that granddad was captured on March 21st 1918 and did not return to Britain until January 1st 1919, and doesn't seem to have been discharged until August 1919 - and that was a hard man - I can't help feeling that there might have been bad blood there between him and the Germans... Intentional choice? Or speculation in the absence of evidence?

Adrian

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  • 4 weeks later...

Cheers Teapot,

You might well be right about Newbury, as I said I don't pretend this list is either complete or perfect, given the total lack of sources. All comments/suggestions gratefully received! :)

I think the code was only used internally, as it seems to consist of the HQ initials, depot initials, then any attached camps. As you can imagine, I found a few contradictions.

The book I compiled it from also lists camps thoughout the Empire, and in the areas of conflict. Again, I can't vouch for the accuracy.

Regards,

Gordon

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Much obliged B)

You could well be right about it being temporary-looks as if the stables were re-used until something more permanent/secure could be built.

Regards,

Gordon

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You will find a photograph of two of the German POWs who escaped from Dyffryn Aled on one of my favourite websites:

www.gtj.org.uk

There are also some great photographs of German POWs at Fron-goch Camp.

Myrtle

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In an account written by my grandfather of his experiences as a PoW in Germany in March 1918, he mentions a "Schwester, a Red Cross nurse" who looked after him in a hospital there and when he askd why she was so kind to him she replied that her father as a naval officer who was a PoW on the Isle of Wight and was being very well treated.

I didn't immediately spot the Isle of Wight in your list, perhaps I missed it. Nevertheless, it would seem that German naval officers were well looked after there. I am, however, aware that what might have ben written home might not have ben entirelyobjective.

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Here is a pic of said place. It is dated October 1914, so may have been temporary.....

Work started on making Newbury Racecourse a POW camp 29th August 1914 and by September there were at least 1500 aliens living there guarded by the Newbury Battalion of the Berkshire National Guard. The Newbury prisoners were moved to off shore prison ships at the end of 1914.

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There were about nine prison ships around the coast of Britain. The locations that I know of are Southend, Ryde and Gosport. I would be interested if anyone knows of any more.

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Thanks all for the additional information, it all helps to flesh the picture out a bit.

Julian-would appreciate if you have any more info on the site on the IoW. I don't remember seeing one on the list either, but it may be under a different name.

AFAIK the list refers to permanent camps, but I compiled it from Lists of Places of Internment 1919 by the Prisoner of War Information Bureau (Reprinted by the Naval & Military Press Ltd 2000). This may only be a list of camps which still survived after the Armistice; earlier defunct ones may have been disregarded.

I remember a few years ago someone in Alveston (?) was doing similar research; anyone know if he got into print?

Regards,

Gordon

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Gordon,

That's the problem. That was all the info I had. I think the incident (of my grandfather) was in Ghent - the military / PoW hospital he called the Waisenhaus Lazarett, or Asile des Orphelines, under German control, ie that was where the Schwester was, that is before his transfer to ??Karlsruhe (tracing my grandfather's camp transfers in Germany is an ongoing challenge). But I rather think it might be a needle in a haystack to find the schwester let alone the father, the "German naval officer" purportedly in PoW camp in the IoW.

(It's amazing how ones typing improves when one has the time !!)

Julian

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Gordon

Regarding POW Camp named Rosyth, Code STRS(Ros), location Inverkeithing, it may be of interest to you to know that remnants of this Camp remained up to the time of the building of the Forth Road Bridge. It was situated twixt Inverkeithing/Rosyth and the prisoners were used to dig clay for an adjacent Brickworks. This Works was closed in the early 1930s' and the clay pit left to flood when it became a source of water supply to the local Paper Works (closed this year). It is still visible from the M90 Motorway and used to have a good stock of trout.

Regards

Jim Gordon

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Jim,

Thanks, that's filled a little blank in. The only other "surviving " camp in Scotland I know of is the one at Lochend, between Dunfermline and Saline. This is listed as a cavalry camp, but is known to have been used as a POW camp. All that can be seen now are six or seven hut bases and a brick building that may be contemporary.

Regards,

Gordon

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