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wingrove

Schneidemuhl Prison Camp

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wingrove

During the first World War Schneidemuhl had a prisoner of war camp, initially taking mainly Russian prisoners but later including prisoners from most allied nations including Australia. During a visit there I took photographs of a memorial that was placed in 1916 in the grave yard that would have been adjacent to the POW camp. Interesting as it has the names of many British Regiments on it. This memorial fascinates me as it has stood there all these years alone and unscathed through the German occupation, the Russian assault in this town in 1945 and the years since. I have never seen a single other person when visiting this place over the years. Yet someone places candles at its base in the red glass holders each year. A Polish tradition letting us know that they are not forgoten.

post-106129-0-15430200-1404748500_thumb.

I have views from all angles at higher quality if anyone is interested. Town is now know as Pila in Poland.

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John Gilinsky

Thank you so much for doing this. Can you please send me any other photos that relate specifically to the Eastern Front and this particular POW camp / cemetery and particular memorial? Without checking it sounds like these men were captured at the start of the war (MONS?) and were long time prisoners who may have been sent to work in Silesian or Polish coal mines in part for punishment and/or retaliation as the war dragged on. Great research project here!

Tx again,

John

Toronto

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wingrove

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wingrove

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John Gilinsky

Thank you for doing this. I live in Canada and focus on the Canadian Expeditionary Force (btw there were some CEF POWS who did end up working in Silesian and eastern German areas / camps including the mines there) but the quality and preservation of this monument is fascinating. I do hope someone on the GWF researches all the men indicated and indicates from the descriptors to me at least that they are in fact very early in the war POWS (possibly at Mons 1914?) be seeing the consistency between the names that almost all are either 1st or 2nd. battalions ONLY and that they are almost all from the regular army battalions.

Best wishes,

John

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Loader

Thanks for bringing this to our attention & remembering these men. Whoever puts the candles there is a truly kind & good person. I wish they could be found & thanked on behalf of the men remembered on the memorial. Maybe a local pastor would know who has adopted the stone.

Do these men have headstones or are they lost?

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seaforths

Thanks for bringing this to our attention & remembering these men. Whoever puts the candles there is a truly kind & good person. I wish they could be found & thanked on behalf of the men remembered on the memorial. Maybe a local pastor would know who has adopted the stone.

Do these men have headstones or are they lost?

A check of CWGC will probably reveal that they were concentrated into another cemetery. Schneidmuhl was German soil during WW1.

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Stebie9173

They are at Berlin South Western Cemetery. From CWGC:

The following cemeteries are among those from which graves were brought to Berlin South-Western Cemetery:-

...

SCHNEIDEMUHL PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, in Posen, West Prussia, on the borders of Poland, contained the graves of 76 soldiers from the United Kingdom, five from Australia, three of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, and one from Canada, who died in 1915-1918. Eighteen of the graves could not be recovered.

...

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/90900/BERLIN%20SOUTH-WESTERN%20CEMETERY

Steve.

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seaforths

Thank you for posting Steve, what an interesting remark and begs the question to which we will probably never know the answer; why couldn't they be recovered? That must also mean that they are still there in situ where they were originally buried. I wonder if they have been commemorated elsewhere? It is certainly a puzzler as it leaves you assuming that the unrecoverable graves must have been a CWGC concern but they don't say what they did about it and eighteen graves is rather a lot to have abandoned. I have been working on a camp (not in this area) where a cemetery of Romanian POWs was rediscovered after being lost for decades. It has since been restored and re-dedicated. The one British POW who was buried in it had been relocated to Niederzwehren after the war.

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seaforths

Just a thought...if all of the names of the men that were buried there are on that memorial then it should be possible to identify via CWGC which ones were relocated and presumably, that would leave eighteen on the memorial without a CWGC grave...

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seaforths

Contemporary map c1913 showing Schneidemuhl and larger area:

imagejpg1_zps7ae3b8f9.jpg

Edit: At this time Schneidemuhl was the base of 149 Infantry Regiment.

The stats for Schneidemuhl POWs as of October 1918 were as follows:

French: Officers 1 ORs 4890

Russian: Officers 5 ORs 33536

Belgian: Officers 0 ORs 61

British: Officers 0 ORs 2722

Serbian: Officers 0 ORs 17

Romanian: Officers 0 ORs 5

Italian: Officers 0 ORs 369

Portuguese: Officers 0 ORs 52

Civilians: 82

I can only assume that Canadian and Australian numbers were included with the British which are actually listed as 'Englander'.

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Stebie9173

It looks like the memorial will only have some of the dead recorded having been erected in 1916 - it has 34 names by my count. Excluding the non-British Regiment from the above CWGC figures that leaves 33 not accounted for on the memorial, so the figures aren't anywhere near at first glance (not taking in account I am doing the calculation late at night!).

Steve.

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seaforths

I did have the thought that if erected in 1916 the memorial might have been added to afterwards when deaths occurred. The first name I picked from the images Wingrove posted was Pte. O. Clough, KOYLI and I got a hit for him on CWGC as being commemorated on the Schneidemuhl POW Memorial Berlin South West Cemetery: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/895283/CLOUGH,%20O

Note that the date of death given is 8/1/1918 so he seems to have been one of the abandoned ones appearing on both memorials. I haven't managed to locate any others on the Berlin Cemetery memorial and I note that we cannot see all the names from the images posted. Wingrove can you show more images so the other names can be seen please? Many thanks.

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seaforths

Also with reference to the above, it seems that they might not have all been concentrated or commemorated in Berlin South West Cemetery: http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/34718/POZNAN%20OLD%20GARRISON%20CEMETERY

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seaforths

Steve, It would seem that of the 18 'abandoned' men, it is only Pte. O. Clough that is commemorated in Berlin South West Cemetery with at later date of death than the other 'abandoned'. The other 17 'abandoned' men are commemorated at the second location in post #14

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post-70679-0-04583600-1405346495_thumb.j

Edit: Also the last two entries on the front of the memorial are interesting and curious. I can understand Hohensalza being south east of Schneidemuhl being mentioned as a place of death but Cologne?

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seaforths

Apologies on my post no.13 I have noticed from post no.4 that they didn't use all the sides of the memorial for engraving and I can see that the other side (which must be the back) seems to be blank.

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seaforths

It looks like the memorial will only have some of the dead recorded having been erected in 1916 - it has 34 names by my count. Excluding the non-British Regiment from the above CWGC figures that leaves 33 not accounted for on the memorial, so the figures aren't anywhere near at first glance (not taking in account I am doing the calculation late at night!).

Steve.

Listed on Wingrove's photograph below Clough I have found (in Berlin South Western Cemetery):

post-70679-0-09596200-1405361362_thumb.j

Chisholm(e), Mahoney shown also with dates of death in 1918 but you know what is strange? There is no record shown on CWGC of them being concentrated from Schneidmuhle. I have other 'lost boys' and CWGC is showing records of their original burials.

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John Gilinsky

Thanks to all for continuing interest and help to anyone interested in this out of the way memorial to BEF early war deaths in German captivity.

Does anyone know who the single Canadian (CEF presumably?) is?

Secondly mix-ups of graves and/or abandonments, and sheer neglects of original burial sites whether individually recognized or collectively is overwhelmingly common along the entire Eastern front for both World Wars for many reasons. That is why I was so taken by the quality of the photographs of this still extant mid-war grave marker that was thoughtfully designed by the soldiers' comrades in fellow captivity. On the German internet very recently I even found Kaiser Wilhelm II attending the burial of one or more British officer POWS in or near Berlin I believe.

Thirdly has anyone studied in detail and/or compiled dbs of Eastern Front WW1 BRITISH burials (including CEF!)? I know that for the Russian Civil War there are books even pre-Internet listing British graves in the former Soviet Union, etc.... However I am interested in central/Eastern Europe: ex-Russian Poland (General Gouvernment - OberOst), East Prusia, NW modern day Poland, Silesia, etc.... There are modern Polish and Austrian websites/dbs on what is photographed/filmed in modern day WW1 military cemeteries there but I would like to know if anyone has documented these out of the way British Imperial (including British Empire - CANADA,etc.) graves?

Tx,

John

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Phil Evans

John,

He was nearly the last one on the list, but the CEF man was W G Mathewson.

Phil

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awakefield

In 2013 I co-guided a Holts Battlefield Tour to parts of the Eastern Front (First World War) and took in Schneidemuhl POW camp cemetery site. People were amazed by the memorial and many graves in the woods - many individually named Russian graves on the site. When I was there for a recce the year before there were a couple of chaps from a local historical preservation society doing an inspection of the site. These volunteers monitor the condition of the cemetery. If anyone is interested in additional photos of the cemetery PM me with an email address.

ALAN

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seaforths

Thanks to all for continuing interest and help to anyone interested in this out of the way memorial to BEF early war deaths in German captivity.

Does anyone know who the single Canadian (CEF presumably?) is?

Secondly mix-ups of graves and/or abandonments, and sheer neglects of original burial sites whether individually recognized or collectively is overwhelmingly common along the entire Eastern front for both World Wars for many reasons. That is why I was so taken by the quality of the photographs of this still extant mid-war grave marker that was thoughtfully designed by the soldiers' comrades in fellow captivity. On the German internet very recently I even found Kaiser Wilhelm II attending the burial of one or more British officer POWS in or near Berlin I believe.

Thirdly has anyone studied in detail and/or compiled dbs of Eastern Front WW1 BRITISH burials (including CEF!)? I know that for the Russian Civil War there are books even pre-Internet listing British graves in the former Soviet Union, etc.... However I am interested in central/Eastern Europe: ex-Russian Poland (General Gouvernment - OberOst), East Prusia, NW modern day Poland, Silesia, etc.... There are modern Polish and Austrian websites/dbs on what is photographed/filmed in modern day WW1 military cemeteries there but I would like to know if anyone has documented these out of the way British Imperial (including British Empire - CANADA,etc.) graves?

Tx,

John

I find it puzzling why Clough is commemorated in Berlin and the other 17 at Poznan. Due to the new CWGC documentation from his entry for Berlin, I can see that Clough's grave was lost and therefore not recovered. Documentation from Poznan on the other 17 indicates they could not be recovered because they were buried with other nationalities. However their original graves at Schneidemuhl are marked and map refs given. As Steve pointed out, there are quite a few names missing from the monument. Given that almost all of the 'abandoned' were commemorated at Poznan there may be some of those moved who went to Poznan and some to Berlin or they might have all been moved to Berlin. Certainly when I looked at one of the Poznan lists of the 17 there were others such as W Bamber on the list and he is now in Berlin. A copy of that list that shows those who were concentrated and those who were not should be on his CWGC file for Berlin but it isn't. However looking at another man I know to have been relocated to Berlin from a different place, there is nothing for him either. This might be because CWGC have not finished uploading all the documentation yet. I will give it a few weeks and if nothing appears, I will drop them an email. You would have thought they would concentrate them all and commemorate them all in one location at Poznan.

John, I am pretty certain there is a file at The National Archives in the FO 383 series with a list of the unofficial work camps of the Eastern Front. I noticed it as I was digging around looking for other stuff last week.

In 2013 I co-guided a Holts Battlefield Tour to parts of the Eastern Front (First World War) and took in Schneidemuhl POW camp cemetery site. People were amazed by the memorial and many graves in the woods - many individually named Russian graves on the site. When I was there for a recce the year before there were a couple of chaps from a local historical preservation society doing an inspection of the site. These volunteers monitor the condition of the cemetery. If anyone is interested in additional photos of the cemetery PM me with an email address.

ALAN

Alan PM sent I would love to see more photographs. Given the figures of the Russian POWs I am not in the least surprised there were many deaths among them. As you will gather from the information above it is possible that there might be marked but collective, mixed nationality graves for 17 of the British left behind.

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seaforths

Looking through a book for information about someone/something else I found the following account which I thought might be of interest (extract from 'The Prisoners 1914-18' by Robert Jackson):

'The appalling nature of prison camp conditions during 1914-15 is reflected, too, in the diary of Corporal CE Green of the Scots Guards, captured in October 1914, who, after a long rail journey, arrived at Scheidemuhl, near Posen in Silesia, on 2 November 1914.

"Marching about three kilometres, we sighted the camp, then in course of erection. It was a bitter cold morning...we were clothed only in khaki, our (great) coats having been taken away...For two or three hours we were kept there. Then they started, fifty men at a time, to inoculate us. This over, we were issued with blankets, spoons, and basins, marched to the cookhouse, and given pig meal and potatoes. Although hungry, very few of us ate it...

3.11.14. This morning before dawn we were down waiting for breakfast, consisting of bread and coffee. In the ensuing rush and scramble with the Russians, Pte. Bowlam of the Coldstreams was struck by a sentry. The Englishman, after holding on to his bayonet, escaped, but was afterwards caught, and thrashed by order of the officer in command. He subsequently died over this affair, his brain having been hurt. A Court of Enquiry was held, and a letter, practically an apology, was written by the officer concerned."

Prisoners of Schneidemuhl were accommodated in barracks with sixty men to a room. The first parcels arrived in December, together with letters from home. Also in December typhus broke out, and within three months every English prisoner except eleven had been hospitalised with the fever. The death toll among the Russians averaged thirty a day; eleven thousand died in eight months. Twenty Britons also died, although - as Green points out - this was a larger percentage than the Russians, many thousands of whom were in the camp. The sufferings of the men were not alleviated by an order that compelled them to take two hours a day exercise each day, in frost, rain, and snow, and often without trousers when these were being fumigated. There was no escape from the misery of camps such as Schneidemuhl; the problems of reaching neutral territory from such places were virtually insurmountable...'

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moraglsutherland

here is the detail on one of the men from my village of Brora who is on this memorial-

ROSS, Alexander

Rank: Private
Regimental Number: 4738
Unit: 1st Battalion, Scots Guards.
Died: Died of fever 18.2.15(NT says 8.2.15) Prisoner-of-War camp, Germany
Age: 32 according to NT
Parents: Mr. and Mrs. George Ross of Manse Park, Brora. NT April 1915 says at the time of his death his mother was in Bridgend George Ross (Blacksmith) & Christina nee Fraser, who married at Rosehall 09 Sep 1880. George from Alness & Christina from Rosehall. Father George emigrated to Alberta,Canada in April 1913 to work on the Duke of Sutherland’s railway. Sadly he died out there on 07 Jan 1917. Christina died in Moray Terrace on 25 Nov 1947.
Born: 25 Aug 1881 Rosehall eldest of 8 children
Home: Brora. With family 1911 census
Job/Trade: Reservist
Enlisted: Inverness
Arrived in France: 13.8.14
Medals awarded: 1914 Star, War Medal, Victory Medal
Notes: Served with Lovat Scouts in Boer War and 7 years in Scots Guards - great athlete wining prizes – NT April 1915
Buried (In 1915): Schneideműhl P.O.W. Cemetery, Silesia.
Commemorated: The Pila Prisoner-of-War Cemetery Memorial, Poznan, Poland.
Memorials: Listed on the Clyne War Memorial, Brora
Recorded in the Scots Guards Roll of Honour, The Scottish National War Memorial

Mother & some siblings are interred in Clyne Cemetery

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seaforths

Thank you for posting Morag,

I'm frequently digging around on POWs and if I come across anything more, I will post in this thread.

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wingrove

I am amazed that there has been such interest in the photographs that I took of this memorial. The site is situated in the forests to the south west of what is now Pila. An area that saw the brunt of the Russian attack on the city in 1945. Situated nearby is a Russian cemetery that has been well looked after over the years. The site with the British memorial in it has many smaller grave stones that belong to Turkish graves and these spread out around the area surrounding the larger memorial. There are even some that are Jewish Grave markers that somehow survived the second world war. There does not seem to be anything visible of the original camp. The candles on the memorial will be refreshed in the next couple of days as Poland has All Saints night. The origin of Halloween that is better known in the west. Graveyards in Poland are decorated with different colored glass candle holders. These candle lanterns, or znicze in Polish, light up even the darkest parts of graveyards throughout Poland. It is a beautiful way to remember those lost and the whole night can be a very overwhelming sight to those new to All Saints Day. Typically, no grave is left unadorned. Graves forgotten or lost are visited and so are the graves of strangers or National heroes.

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