Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
potty5

POW repatriation at the end of the war

Recommended Posts

potty5

Dear forum members can anybody tell me the way British POWs were repatriated at the end of the war. The man I am researching was captured at Mouevres on Sept 12, 1918 but he doesn't appear to return home for ages after the armistice. Any info would help enormously. Cheers guys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
potty5

Any idea what camp he would have been sent to? Due to his late capture, his name does not appear on any Red Cross list (Frederick Walton Vickerman). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron Clifton

The father of a friend of mine was taken prisoner in May 1918 (but his parents did not learn that he was still alive until September). According to his account, when news of the Armistice broke, their German guards opened the gates, pointed west and said "England is that way". He gave no further details but arrived home around Christmas Day.

 

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EastSurrey

My great uncle was captured 16.10.18 at Haussy, whilst with 9/E.Surrey. I was pleasantly surprised he did have some Red Cross records-being sent with others from the battalion to Dulmen. His service records don't survive, but from elsewhere I know he was certainly back in England by January. John Claughton, of the same battalion, who was captured at the same time, does have surviving service records, which show he was at a repatriation centre in the UK on 10 December.

There is general information on the repatriation of POWs in the Official History volume 'The Occupation of the Rhineland' by Edmonds. I don't have a copy to hand, but took notes some while back. Many men, including in areas to be given up by the Germans, like Alsace, were, indeed, simply turned loose. Around 75,000 reached Allied lines within a month of the Armistice. With German arrangements inadequate, medical parties and ambulance trains were sent into Germany. Roughly equal numbers were repatriated through German ports, Dutch ports and Calais/Boulogne. Some also found their way back through Switzerland. Some never quite made it, dying of influenza, etc.  (like Pte Watford died 3/12,buried Vevey, Switzerland, Pte. William Dennison, d.31/12, buried Sangatte, Pte Joseph Wrigley, d. 30/11, b. Nijmegen, Holland-all ex 9/E.Surrey. On 9 January the British estimated there were still 36,000 POWs to be returned. The Germans said there were only 13,579. This discrepancy was never properly resolved and owed much to German laxity in reporting deaths to the Red X.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kenf48
15 hours ago, potty5 said:

Any idea what camp he would have been sent to? Due to his late capture, his name does not appear on any Red Cross list (Frederick Walton Vickerman). 

 

After 1918 many of the prisoners remained in France or close to the western border.  The Germans did not have the trains which had previously transported them into Germany to the camps and work areas in the east and elsewhere..  

 

It's worth looking at Richard van Emden's 'Prisoners of the Kaiser', based on the Channel 4 programme in which he interviews a number of surviving prisoners about heir experiences.  The IWM has some photos of skeletal repatriated PoWs similar to those released by the Japanese at the end of WW2 which we tend to be more familiar with.  As noted above most of those interviewed in Richard's book came home via Rotterdam or Calais and give detailed accounts of their homecoming.

 

Lists were published in the local newspapers if you can find him on the list you might be able to piece together his movements if you can find others with a service record, bit of a long shot but worth a go.

 

Ken

Edited by kenf48

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mancpal

My grandad was captured at Bullecourt in May 1917. He was listed as being held at Limburg which like Dulmen was often used as a "postal address " so may never have been there.

He was in fact held at Gustrow ( near Rostock) and Gettorf  ( near Kiel). The first acted as a dispersal camp, the latter a work camp.

These and other Northern camps saw their inmates repatriated under the Danish Scheme . This saw thousands of POWs transported to Copenhagen and when the city was deemed full a small number were sent on to ljungbyhed military camp in Sweden until a ship became available. They then transferred ship to ship at Copenhagen for the journey home. I think Leith was the primary destination.

 

simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink999

Another long shot is to search through the Wo 363 - First World War Service Records 'Burnt Documents' that are on find my past, amongst the "floating paperwork" are numerous lists of repatriated POW's such as this one

 

Dave

IMG_4962.PNG

Edited by dink999

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perth Digger

I remember reading a Hansard debate on-line, with a minister informing Parliament how many POWs had still to return. I think that most were back by the end of 1918. If Vickerman had been wounded and was still in hospital, his repatriation would have been delayed.

 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hedley Malloch
On 15/12/2017 at 11:04, EastSurrey said:

My great uncle was captured 16.10.18 at Haussy, whilst with 9/E.Surrey. I was pleasantly surprised he did have some Red Cross records-being sent with others from the battalion to Dulmen. His service records don't survive, but from elsewhere I know he was certainly back in England by January. John Claughton, of the same battalion, who was captured at the same time, does have surviving service records, which show he was at a repatriation centre in the UK on 10 December.

There is general information on the repatriation of POWs in the Official History volume 'The Occupation of the Rhineland' by Edmonds. I don't have a copy to hand, but took notes some while back. Many men, including in areas to be given up by the Germans, like Alsace, were, indeed, simply turned loose. Around 75,000 reached Allied lines within a month of the Armistice. With German arrangements inadequate, medical parties and ambulance trains were sent into Germany. Roughly equal numbers were repatriated through German ports, Dutch ports and Calais/Boulogne. Some also found their way back through Switzerland. Some never quite made it, dying of influenza, etc.  (like Pte Watford died 3/12,buried Vevey, Switzerland, Pte. William Dennison, d.31/12, buried Sangatte, Pte Joseph Wrigley, d. 30/11, b. Nijmegen, Holland-all ex 9/E.Surrey. On 9 January the British estimated there were still 36,000 POWs to be returned. The Germans said there were only 13,579. This discrepancy was never properly resolved and owed much to German laxity in reporting deaths to the Red X.

Michael

If one reads the War Diaries of the units involved during the last two weeks of the war, then it's quite a chaotic picture.  The Germans were turning prisoners of all nationalities loose, communications of all types were destroyed by the Germans as they retreated, and the British army's medical units were overwhelmed by not only their ordinary tasks, but the problem of looking after the French and Belgian civilians they inherited from the Germans.  And of course the Germans were still putting up some resistance. 

 

The British army did not appear to have any system even for recording the names of the soldiers they were picking up, or organising their withdrawal.  How many were simply told to make their way to the rear where they would be looked after?

 

For a few of them, this might have been a golden opportunity to restart life in a new country and with a new family.  Let your old family think you are lost and take the chance to wipe the slate clean.

 

Just a thought ...

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7Y&LP

Like Mancpal my grandad was held at Dulmen, Gustrow and Gettorf, though he was captured at the Battle of the Menin Road in September 1917. He was repatriated from Copenhagen to Leith via the Danish Scheme,  though amongst the postcards of the Danish Queen, Kiel and Gettorf there are some from Sweden so I wonder if he passed through Ljungbyhed military camp in Sweden. According to the account he left:

'In November 1918 they had had enough and the start of the finish was when the navy mutinied. They chucked up the sponge before the end of the month. I had a look around Kiel before we left. A private Marine took the place of the officer at our camp after the revolution and he allowed us a lot of freedom for the rest of our stay. He let one sentry go with ten of our chaps to see the sights of Kiel each day. I was there when a lot of their battleships left for England, surrendered at the signing of the Armistice. They made us welcome and were a thousand times more glad then us that the War was over.'

I hope this info helps.

Edited by 7Y&LP
Additional info

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mancpal

7Y&LP,

there is a letter on  an Australian Government website from an Aussie soldier called Dawson which closely echoes your grandads account regarding trips to Kiel.

I have been told by another member that the relatively small number taken to Sweden we're shipped back to Copenhagen though transferred ship to ship so never set foot in Denmark.this may explain why I've got around 100 prison  camp photos and postcards from Gustrow, Gettorf, Kiel and Sweden but not one from Denmark.

i have a few names and addrresses of fellow prisoners in my grandads notebook. Also some sketches including a guard and also one in naval uniform, I wonder if he was the private marine? 

On one of my previous threads (which I can't find!) another member states that a prisoner was sentenced to solitary for drawing caricatures of guards , while  I have no evidence this was  my grandad there is a small cartoon of a German soldier getting whacked across the backside by a prisoner holding a plank in my grandads notebook. I also have a post WW2 letter to him from a former Gettorf guard (Franz Hoffman) hoping he had survived the more recent conflict.

sorry to have digressed from original topic.

 

simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7Y&LP

Dear Simon

 

I have an idea that the info about the cartoon came from my grandads account:

 

'One comical bit happened during this time. Some Engineers came to do a job and each night before they left they would strip naked and have what we called a chat out, pick out the livestock that is. A chap of ours who was good at drawing made a sketch of a naked German with a mallet in one hand and a flea by the neck in the other. A German officer took a fancy to the drawing and claimed it. On the reverse side of the paper was a sketch of a half-starved German knawing a mangold wurzel. The artist got 14 days in cells for that.'

 

I have rediscovered on my computer some info taken from the digital files of The Scotsman, below are the details of where to find these files  and I have attached some of the information. Interestingly the report is from Helsingbourg (Sweden) and some of my grandads postcards are from there, but there is only one Danish post card (of the Danish Queen)  ....

 

This article is from http://archive.scotsman.com
Wednesday 18th December 1918 - Page 5
Original article URL:
http://archive.scotsman.com/article.cfm?id=TSC/1918/12/18/Ar00505

 

Sennelager-evacualed2.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7Y&LP

Here are the remainder of the reports I have. I have also seen a short newsreel of repatriated POW's landing at Leith complete with band and much cheering, blowed if I can find it now but it is out there !

Sennelager-evacualed.pdf

Sennelager-evacualed3.pdf

Ripon21Nov1918.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7Y&LP

I also came across the attached which is a newspaper list of 'Released Prisoners of War from Germany arrived in England' dated 23.1.1919. I apologies that I have not recorded which newspaper it is form and that it is only a couple of pages that are the wrong way up but despite that  the men are listed by Regiment - I hope you can find your men here.

Jan23-1919-POW-x.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maureene
42 minutes ago, 7Y&LP said:

I also came across the attached which is a newspaper list of 'Released Prisoners of War from Germany arrived in England' dated 23.1.1919. I apologies that I have not recorded which newspaper it is form and that it is only a couple of pages that are the wrong way up but despite that  the men are listed by Regiment - I hope you can find your men here.

Jan23-1919-POW-x.pdf

 I was able to rotate the list, so I could read it right way up.

 

The page appears to be taken from the Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry) which was a weekly publication by HMSO. You are saying that you found this in a newspaper.   If in a newspaper, it would imply that at least one newspaper republished pages from the weekly publication, Weekly Casualty List, perhaps the entire publication. Did you find it online?

 

From the date, it does not seem to fall within the range of the dates of the publication Weekly Casualty List, on the databases of TheGenealogist, findmypast, or the British Newspaper Archive, so it would be interesting to know another online source.

 

Cheers

Maureen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
phsvm

This is rather a belated posting as I have only just come across this thread whilst researching a local man who was held POW.  I found this article which may be of interest.  It does reference all sources.

 

roydenhistory.co.uk/eportwarmemorial/pows/pows.pdf

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...