Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Paddy Jackson

POW's at Murren in Switzerland

Recommended Posts

Paddy Jackson

Does anyone know exactly where the POW's were interned in Murren prior to repatriation. What is the best source for finding out a bit more about this. What were conditions like? Were they still prisoners and how and by what route did they normally get back to UK. This was the last stop on my Dad's journey as a POW. Any info would be great help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paddy Jackson

Are then any photos or details of the hotels in Murren where they were billetted.

Do we know why Murren was selected as a destination for internees prior to repatriation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
seaforths

Thank you Coldstreamer. That's a good starting point for further research, looking at the sources of the article showing a couple of avenues to explore at the IWM:

Sources:

Painting courtesy of James Gordon-Cumming Collection, www.trenchart.co.uk.

Reverend R. Bulstrode papers, Imperial War Museum Department of Documents, 87/10/1.

Reports on Swiss camps, , Imperial War Museum Department of Documents, Misc 26(473).

There is likely more in the Foreign Office files too. Images can often be found on the internet. Googling the location with an old postcards query can usually be helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
seaforths

As an aside, I have seen stuff in the FO files about a Swiss camp at high altitude that was causing problems for some prisoners and wonder now, reading that article posted by Coldstreamer, whether it was in fact Murren.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
seaforths

Cheers charlie2 - good find!

Having looked at the contents of the FO files, There are a number of files relating specifically to Switzerland. I can confirm that Murren was indeed the high altitude location and the British were requesting prisoners be moved to a lower altitude. I'm struggling to remember what is exactly in that file and it might have been relative to prisoners that had suffered head injuries being put there and the fact that it was inaccessible during winter months - which also appears in the article Coldstreamer linked to. Another thing I noticed on that linked article was a reference to the YMCA Hut. That comes up in the FO files for Murren too - to be opened at the request of the King.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest susie kershaw

Thanks to Coldstreamer for site re wounded POWs sent to Chateau d'Oex. Does anyone know any more about specific locations in Chateau d'Oex used for internees? My Grandfather - Cheshire Regiment - was there during 1916-1917 and my first uncle born in Switzerland so I am also keen to understand how my grandmother was able to join her husband. Any parallel or relevant information would be most gratefully received!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paddy Jackson

Thanks all.

Charlie 2 The photos are really interesting. Quite unique I suggest!

Looks like the YMCA Hut was a sort of meeting place for special events and general socialising.

Any details on the hotel used for accomodation?

Any idea how you can get into the Cambridge University library documents? Has anybody viewed this source.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
seaforths

Wives were allowed to go to see the prisoners interned in neutral countries. There is a photograph of wives and men on the site posted by charlie2. In addition, scrolling to the bottom of the various pages on the site Coldstreamer linked to, the sources of their information can be seen. Some of these sources are IWM (Imperial War Museum) in London. There are a few files with regard to prisoners in Switzerland in the FO (Foreign Office) files held at The National Archives at Kew.

If you scroll down the various topics on this POW sub-forum, you will find the thread with the title Foreign Office files FO 383. There is a substantial content list of the files that can be downloaded from a link there. At least you will then know which files you need to look at if you plan a visit to Kew to look at/copy them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Terry_Reeves

This from Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem 1921:

"Each camp at Chateau d'Oex and Murren had its Tailor's, Shoemaker's, and a Carpenter's shop. In addition, Murren started a Printing Office and Watch Repairing Shop, and Chateau d'Oex a Bookbinder's Shop. Classes of instruction were held in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Classes were also formed for Shorthand, Typewriting, Book-keeping, First Aid, Toy making, Bead chain making, Electric wiring, Surveying, Wood-carving and Motor Mechanics". All this was inaugurated in 1916.

In addition 40 NCOs and men from Chateau d'Oex and Murren were selected by senior British officers for a six month course in hotel-keeping at Lausanne. In 1917 a class in carpet making was started at Lake Thun by a Mrs Cooke Daniels and a Miss Martin at their own expense. The Motor Mechanics school, at Murren was expanded in February 1917 and moved to larger premises at Vevey. The Murren school was then for preliminary training prior to the three month course at Vevey. This was repeated at the Chateau d'Oex school.

TR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest susie kershaw

From another link, Europeana to the nationaal archief at The Hague, there are 3 exciting photos showing a train full of wives arriving and those meeting them at Chateau d'Oex. Does anyone else know anything about this train? Where and when did it leave? How did a wife get on it? Who organised it? Were there more? How did they get home again?

SK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
seaforths

From another link, Europeana to the nationaal archief at The Hague, there are 3 exciting photos showing a train full of wives arriving and those meeting them at Chateau d'Oex. Does anyone else know anything about this train? Where and when did it leave? How did a wife get on it? Who organised it? Were there more? How did they get home again?

SK

Refer to my previous post on Foreign Office files...I've bumped that thread so it should be easy to locate just below this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Terry_Reeves

From the same source in post 12:

"Visits of relatives to prisoners war interned in Switzerland were organized by the Joint Committee at the end of September 1916. From that date onwards parties of wives and mothers of interned prisoners (and in some cases fiancees), in the charge of an escort, left London every few weeks for the camps at Chateau d' Oex, Murren, and Leysin. Excellent arrangements were made for the housing and general comfort of the parties during the fortnight's stay one of the interned officers in each camp acting as Red Cros representative in charge. The men concerned were given special leave to join their relatives, and highly appreciated the privilege, as many grateful letters testify. there is no doubt that in many cases their health and morale were sensibly improved by the renewal of home associations.

Thirty-seven parties in all, averaging sixteen per party, were conducted to and from Switzerland between September, 1916, and October, 1917, when difficulties of transport, connected with military operations, interfered with regular despatch, though sympathetic consideration was shown for special cases.

Over 600 women enjoyed the hospitality of the Red Cross. From the moment of leaving home they incurred no expense whatever, the only condition required being a formal application for their visit from the interned prisoner of war himself, and the establishment of satisfactory bona fides. The escorts gave their services freely, and were selected from V.A.D. members or from men and women of goodwill and experience.

The organization on the Swiss side was in the hands of Colonel Picot at Berne, and we are indebted to Sir William Ellis Hume-Williams KBE., KC., MP for much valuable assistance in connection with this work, as well as for various other services to the Red Cross.

The average total cost per head was £18 16s 6d. Except for a small initial advance from the funds of the Societies the whole expense of the undertaking was more than than covered by special donations."

TR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie2

Thanks to Coldstreamer for site re wounded POWs sent to Chateau d'Oex. Does anyone know any more about specific locations in Chateau d'Oex used for internees? My Grandfather - Cheshire Regiment - was there during 1916-1917 and my first uncle born in Switzerland so I am also keen to understand how my grandmother was able to join her husband. Any parallel or relevant information would be most gratefully received!

One hotel is here https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P01981.041

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie2

Thanks all.

Any details on the hotel used for accomodation?

Any idea how you can get into the Cambridge University library documents? Has anybody viewed this source.

I would suggest that more than one hotel was used. A trip to your local library may help, they should be able to advise if an inter-library loan is possible or if the magazines are held at other locations

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Indefatigable

I have been doing some research on Murren

The 1913 edition of the European Bradshaws timetable states that Murren had a population of around 400 people and was a scattered village. Access was only by a funicular railway from Lauterbrunnen (alt. 2,625ft) to Grutschalp (alt. 4,890 ft) followed by a 3.50 mile train journey along the top of the valley to Murren. The Cable car mentioned in one of the previous links was not installed until film makers arrived to make the James Bond movie "On her Majesty's Secret Service" in 1968/69. I believe the film company provided the finance for the cable to be built at Schilthornbahn Stechelberg which is about three miles along the valley floor from Lauterbrunnen station. In the last couple of years the Funicular Railway to Grutschalp has been replaced by a cable car due to landslip. At the time Murren had about 5-8 hotels, a similar number of pensions and an English Church as it was a winter holiday resort that was popular with English visitors.

Today the population of Murren is not much different although the number of hotels and pensions etc. have grown significantly due to the region being very well known for its winter sports and summer tourism.

regards

Indefatigable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie2

The hotels Eiger, Edelweiß and Bellevue in Mürren were used to accomodate internees, there could have been others

Charlie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paddy Jackson

Thanks guys. Charlie 2 I read somewhere there were about 40 officers all in one hotel. Any clues which one this might have been?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie2

Probably the 5 Star one :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie2

Two more hotels used for internees in Mürren: Jungfrau and Regina

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paddy Jackson

Charlie couldn't see serial 23 ? But saw a list stating arrival date of 27th November 1917 in Switzerland (Murren). Is that what you meant? Thanks for hotel list can see all these on a map of 1920 ish

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie2

Charlie couldn't see serial 23 ? But saw a list stating arrival date of 27th November 1917 in Switzerland (Murren). Is that what you meant? Thanks for hotel list can see all these on a map of 1920 ish

Yes, your father is number 23 on the list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...