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German POW Camps in the UK


Hazel Basford
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Hello,

Some time ago I picked up in Tonbridge Library a list entitled POW Camps 1914-1920 - because it included a number of Kent locations.

There are various cryptic references on the sheet and I am wondering if they mean anything to anyone.

POWIB

and under 'Sources'

Jackson

DKF

FPHS

Bird/Liddle/Carter

OSK

DDT

Pan 103

I want to find out more about the locations listed for Kent, so if anyone knows what these source references means or if they can point me to other useful sources I will be happy to hear.

Thanks

Hazel

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Hi Hazel,

Perhaps POW1B = the location either within the camp (e.g., hut) or the number of the camp.

The letters under sources may simply be inititals of the people making the entries.

Sorry I can't help any more than this.

Robbie

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POWIB - Prisoner of War Information Bureau

and under 'Sources'

Jackson - John B. Jackson

DKF - (Volksbund) Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge

FPHS - Forces Postal History Society

Bird

/Liddle - Peter LIDDLE - WW1 historian

/Carter

OSK

DDT

Pan 103

Kath

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Hello Hazel,

I posted a question a few weeks ago about the location of a German POW camp in England, Belmont POW Hospital, would it be possible to look it up in your book, you never know it may be in Kent.

Link to thread as I posted a few pictures.

Camp belmont thread

Best regards,

Jeff

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Thanks for the replies. I need to find more about the document in the Library.

I am struck that there seems to be so little information about POW camps for German prisoners in the UK during WW1.

National Archives may have a couple of things, but no body of information seems to have survived.

Perhaps I should not be surprised given the loss of the Central Prisoners of War Committee records that would have told us so much about British POWs.

Hazel

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hazel

You're right, there is very little about POW camps in the UK, and not much in the National Archives. I could fill up some space with my gleanings about POW and internment camps in Wiltshire, including some escape attempts, but briefly: one German escapee got as far as a London hotel, where he gave himself away by giving an address in the registry with a continental 7. (Wasn't this one of the giveaways in the WWII feature film "Went the Day Well", with Thora Hird et al battling German soldiers dressed as British troops who took over an idyllic English village?). Other interesting snippets relate to POWs convicted for stealing bacon fat from a Calne factory and others escaping to kill sheep to augment their rations!

TNA file HO 45/11522/287235 parts I and 2 give details of censuses of "alien enemies" aged 18 years and over at liberty in Britain, I think on a county basis.

The file also gives instances of over-reaction to suspected aliens, including how in Hertfordshire an angry mob gathered around a public house threatening to kill two men said to be Germans; in fact they were rat-catchers from Wiltshire whose accents were unfamiliar!

House of Commons committee visits to internment camps early 1915 is described in TNA file CAB 45/207.

A Home Office report of January 1918 records PoW camps (TNA: HO 45/10883/345466). Providing commanding officers and security were members of the Royal Defence Corps and 295 men. In the first half of 1918 many Royal Defence Corps were disbanded and their duties taken over by reserve battalions. (TNA: WO 32/18622)

“’

“List of Places of Internment“ published by the Prisoner of War Information Bureau in 1919 (copy in the IWM) includes civilian work and agricultural camps. But most PoW camps, in Wiltshire anyway, were attached to airfields and army camps, presumably because tof the extra security provided by the troops there.

In 1918 the Government was considering how best to use the labour supply offered by German PoWs. TNA file NATS 1/569 contains a list drawn up in October of camps that might be visited by a trade testing party to determine the aptitudes of prisoners.

In the 1960s the bodies of German PoWs from both world wars were removed from local cemeteries and churchyards and re-interred at Cannock Chase. TNA file HO 282/21 gives a local breakdown and some rather grisly detail (again in the case of a Wiltshire disinterment) of bits of flesh still on the bones.

In 1918 a Wiltshire tenant farme died when trying to recue two inmates of the camp at Fair View, Devizes, who were asphyxiated in a whey tank. In July 1919 PoW Private L Bruckmann rescued the pilot of a British plane that crashed at an unspecified Wiltshire airfield where he was employed, he was released forthwith, given a free passage home, and presented with some money and a silver watch.

Moonraker

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The POW camp in leigh in Lancashire was been written about, the details are as follows:

The German Prisoner of War Camp at Leigh 1914 - 1919 by Leslie Smith

Published by Neil Richardson in 1986

The book gives a chronological account of the camp based on information from the Leigh Chronicle.

It is well illustrated and worth reading.

Steve

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i found this

On arrival in Donington Hall, Pluschow wondered if he would ever escape Great Britain. The camp was for officers only, and therefore it was very well guarded. It had two 6ft high barbed wire fences. These also had an electrified wire running around the inner fence, deep and complicated wire entanglements in between the fences.There was an outer Guardhouse overlooking the main road, and the nearest town and railway station was a few miles away.

http://www.pluschow.iofm.net/donington.htm

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Dear all,

Thanks for the replies, which show that there is information out there to be found, let's hope this thread continues.

In the meantime here is what I have found out from a post-war encyclopaedia type publication -

Notes on the Chapter: 'German Prisoners of War in the United Kingdom 1914-1918'

In HW Wilson (ed.), The Great War, Amalgamated Press, London, 1919 Vol XII, pp. 401-414

Early in the war, an American, JB Jackson, inspected POW camps in Great Britain. He arrived in the winter of 1914/15 and was authorised to make unannounced visits. He issued a report in April 1915 having visited 13 camps and 9 ships, in which about 26,000 internees were kept, the majority being civilians or merchant seamen. At the beginning of the War there were c. 70,000 German subjects or people of German birth in the UK, about 20,000 of these were interned. Mr Jackson found no women internees.

A White Paper presented to Parliament in September 1916 included published reports by officials of the US Embassy in London, giving particulars of visits they had made to a considerable number of places of internment during the preceding months, including

Knockaloe, Isle of Man (civilian)

Stobbs, Scotland

Alexandra Palace

Handforth, Cheshire

Eastcote, Northants

Dorchester

Lofthouse, near Wakefield

Oldcastle, Co Meath

Douglas, Isle of Man

And many others, not listed.

The ICRC in Geneva sent representatives to visit camps in GB, Professor Edouard Naville and M. Victor van Bechem. They reported 10,000 German officers and men were prisoners in the UK.

Mention of a camp at Holyport (is this near Maidenhead?)

Early in the War POWs arriving in the UK were dealt with by a branch of the Department of the Adjutant-General, later known as AG3, under the War Office. At the start no prison camps existed so other accommodation had to be improvised. Barracks and camps were used, some civilians were temporarily detained in prisons, but not subject to the usual prison regime.

Civilian prisoners were dealt with by the Home Office and the War Office, the latter had sole charge of military prisoners.

The first German prisoners were received at the Dorchester Camp in August 1914, and this camp became a ‘permanent’ camp, open until the end of the War. Other similar permanent camps were set up at Queen’s Ferry and Lancaster and temporary camps at Horsham, York Castle, Bradford Moor, Olympia (London), Edinburgh and Fort George. Some of these were merely makeshift and were closed before the end of August.

In September the number of permanent camps was increased. A representative of ‘The Times’ visited Frith Hill, Frimley. He saw Uhlans, infantry men, sailors and civilians. In a hospital area were sixty wounded men of the 35th Infantry.

Due to the shortage of suitable accommodation nine ships were used for internment. These were 4,000 to 5,000 ton vessels and were a temporary measure. One was the ‘Andania’.They ceased to used after June 1915. They were moored in the Thames, off Ryde and at Southampton. In Germany objections to the use of these ships were made.

In August 1914, in compliance with the terms of the Hague Convention, a Prisoners of War Information Bureau was set up in London at 49 Wellington Street, Strand under the direction of Sir Paul Harvey. He was succeeded in 1915 by Sir JD Rees, MP for Nottingham East. By 1918 the Bureau had a staff of more than 300. The Bureau received returns from officers in charge of prison camps and provided lists of prisoners to enemy governments and to Red Cross societies. Lists of prisoners admitted to hospitals within camps were also submitted so that relatives could be informed. The Bureau received requests for information from Germany, amounting to as many as 400 per day and interviewed prisoners concerning the fate of comrades so that information could be sent back to relatives.

In February 1915 the Directorate of Prisoners of War was established as a distinct and separate organisation. The first Director was Lt Gen Sir Herbert E Belfield. By December 1915 there were interned 12,349 military, 1,147 naval and 32,272 civilians, nearly all Germans. There were 21 camps in England, 2 in Scotland, 1 in Ireland and 1 in the Channel Islands. There were also 42 detention barracks, 8 for military, 6 for naval and 28 for civilian prisoners. These were for men found guilty of breaches of discipline by properly constituted courts and duly sentenced.

Captured submarine crews were regarded initially by the British government as not honourable prisoners of war and were treated differently. Men from three captured submarines were put in Naval Detention Barracks at Chatham Dockyard. In reprisal Germany imprisoned a corresponding number of British officers. Mr Page, the American Ambassador in London, confirmed to his colleague in Berlin that the officers and men at Chatham Naval Barracks were being properly cared for. This policy was abandoned in June 1915, thereafter U-boat crews were sent to naval prisoner of war camps.

On 31st December 1916 there were 48,572 military, 1,316 naval and 31,000 civilians in the camps. The number of camps had increased to 38 in England, 8 in Scotland, 1 in Ireland and 1 in the Channel Islands. The number of detention barracks was 59 – 24 for military, 15 for naval and 20 for civilians.

Early in 1917 the work of the Directorate of Prisoners of War was divided into three sub-sections and work relating to British POWs held by the Germans was separated from that referring to enemy prisoners in British hands.

By the end of 1917 the number of prisoners of war had risen to more than 150,000 – 118,864 German military, 9 Austrian military, 1,635 German naval, 1 Turkish naval. The civilian prisoners numbered 15,120 Germans, 2,065 Austrians, 108 Turks and 223 others. In England there were 142 camps, 14 in Scotland and 9 in Ireland. The number of detention barracks was 46 – 33 military, 5 naval and 9 civilian.

1917 saw extensive use of German prisoners for work outside the camps, due to the shortage of labour, as well as food. Under the Hague Convention it was permissible to use the labour of all prisoners of war, except officers, according to their capacity. The work was not be excessive, or connected with the operation of the war. By 1918 all German prisoners, barring the officers and the physically unfit, were working. Prisoners were paid for their work at the same rate as British soldiers. The work was varied. No prisoners worked underground, though some worked in quarries, others were employed in building work, putting up huts, road repairs, land reclamation. By the autumn of 1918 70,000 prisoners were working, 30,000 were working on the harvest, under the direction of local Agricultural Committees. Employers were charged for the use of prisoner labour at the customary local rate. Out of this the prisoner were paid and the remainder was put to the cost of their keep.

Only four prisoners succeeded in escaping from the UK, two are believed to have died in the North Sea, the others reached Germany. One, Gunther Pluschow published an account of his escape (published by The Bodley Head Ltd, in the UK in 1922 ‘My Escape from Donington Hall (see also http://www.pluchow.iofm.net)) Most were content with their lot and gave little trouble to their guards who were men of the Royal Defence Corps.

After July 1918 the number of prisoners increased greatly and there were 492 camps in England, 25 in Scotland and 1 in the Channel Islands. Sick and wounded prisoners were being treated in 35 hospitals.

Other places mentioned:

Colsterdale

Shrewsbury

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Hazel,

Here is a link to my website featuring Stobs Camp near Hawick in the Scottish Borders.

Stobs Camp

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Hazel,

I very much enjoyed reading your transcript.

I to feel its odd how little is written on German POW's in England.

Heres one article I've found on-line.

German prisoners of war at the Badsey Manor House, Worcestershire in 1918

http://www.badsey.net/past/pows.htm

Found this on the Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service website

Beds & Luton Archives website

* Employment of enemy prisoners of war (WW1/AC/PW series). The series includes pay and time sheets for gangs of German prisoners used for agricultural labour. These have largely been destroyed due to their bulk and low informational value, but the names of the British soldier guards and the prisoners have been noted down in the catalogue as well as the POW camp from which they came (and these include Ampthill, Barton-le-Clay, Bletsoe, Broom, Clifton, Leighton Buzzard, Melchbourne, Meppershall, Pertenhall, Shillington, Souldrop, Stopsley, Sundon, Tempsford, Turvey and Woburn).

Best regards,

Jeff

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You will probably also find some good, if more general information, in

Panayi Paniakos The Enemy in our Midst: Germans in Britain during the First World War (Berg, 1991)

Best wishes

Paul

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  • 1 year later...

Hello All

Has anyone unearthed anything on the Cannock Chase POW camp? I am developing an archaeological project on the Chase and am trying to compile background data from all periods.

Best

Martin

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Hello Hazel,

I posted a question a few weeks ago about the location of a German POW camp in England, Belmont POW Hospital, would it be possible to look it up in your book, you never know it may be in Kent.

Link to thread as I posted a few pictures.

Camp belmont thread

Best regards,

Jeff

Possibly the Belmont Hospital referred to is the one at Sutton, Surrey as I certainly recall reading somewhere that this was used for wounded German prisioners in WW1. Try Googling Belmont Hospital and see what comes up. The building at Belmont was a large barracks of a place and when I was a kid it was known as a lunatic asylum. It stood on land between the Brighton Road and the Sutton By-Pass, slightly to the north of Belmont Railway Station.

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Hello All

Has anyone unearthed anything on the Cannock Chase POW camp? I am developing an archaeological project on the Chase and am trying to compile background data from all periods.

Best

Martin

The PoW Camp on Cannock Chace was called Brocton. It became the Main Administrative centre for the Midlands, serving Staffs, Derbys, Lincs, Leics. The Camp's Hospital was also used. One report says Brocton Hall was a third camp. This may be what is now the clubhouse of a golf club which has been burned down twice.

In the late 1960s at the bequest of the West German government, a War Cemetery was created near to the camp site.

Details can be found in A town of four winters.

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Hi pals,

I was at the National Family History fair at the weekend and purchased two books relating to German internees in the UK. One was on the Isle of Man and the other was 'An Insight into Civilian Internment in Britain during WWI' published by the Anglo-German Family History Society (see their web site) This consists of two first hand accounts of internment.

Doug

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The PoW Camp on Cannock Chace was called Brocton. It became the Main Administrative centre for the Midlands, serving Staffs, Derbys, Lincs, Leics.... In the late 1960s at the bequest of the West German government, a War Cemetery was created near to the camp site.

Details can be found in A town of four winters.

Presumably because of the large number of German PoWs buried there? WWI PoWs buried in Wiltshire churchyards (in no great numbers) were disinterred and the remains reburied at Cannock Chase. The National Archives has files on this, including grisly details of the actually unearthing of remains.

The PoW camps in Wiltshire were all attached to army camps and training aerodromes; I had thought this might be because the prisoners could be guarded by British soldiers based at the camps, but on reflection I now suspect that it was to provide working parties.

The thought of PoWs being next to airfields brings up ideas of Biggles-type escapees stealing an aeroplane and flying it back to Germany, but I guess the range would have then been far too great. But in WWII there was a celebrated escape from Devizes (I think for recce purposes prior to a mass escape) in which the PoWs headed for RAF Yatesbury.

Moonraker

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At RAF Yatesbury and while sheltering from an extremely cold night whilst on guard duty,I got talking to the Boilerhouse stoker about the history of RAF Yatesbury.He told me that there was a German POW camp on site in the Great War.

This in addition to the Flying Training School on the grass airfield.

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The PoW Camp on Cannock Chace was called Brocton. It became the Main Administrative centre for the Midlands, serving Staffs, Derbys, Lincs, Leics. The Camp's Hospital was also used. One report says Brocton Hall was a third camp. This may be what is now the clubhouse of a golf club which has been burned down twice.

In the late 1960s at the bequest of the West German government, a War Cemetery was created near to the camp site.

Details can be found in A town of four winters.

Thank you very much.

I was in the cemetery yesterday, having been up on the Chase running some field survey. More details soon.

Martin

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hello Hazel,

I posted a question a few weeks ago about the location of a German POW camp in England, Belmont POW Hospital, would it be possible to look it up in your book, you never know it may be in Kent.

Link to thread as I posted a few pictures.

Camp belmont thread

Best regards,

Jeff

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Hello Jeff

Not sure I will be much help. There was a German POW camp above Holmbury ST Mary on Holmbury Hill. (Surrey Hills). Very little remains however a short way accross the valley is Belmont School. The school occupies Belmont House . I wonder if it may have been used as a hospital.

regards

Stephen

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According to the list of places of internment, Belmont Hospital is definitely the one near Sutton in Surrey. It is listed as Belmont Hospital - see P./W. Hospital, Belmont which it lists as nr Sutton, Surrey.

Doug

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  • 2 years later...
Hello Jeff

Not sure I will be much help. There was a German POW camp above Holmbury ST Mary on Holmbury Hill. (Surrey Hills). Very little remains however a short way accross the valley is Belmont School. The school occupies Belmont House . I wonder if it may have been used as a hospital.

regards

Stephen

Holmbury St Mary - Holmbury Hill was also a training camp for new recruits. Was it normal practice to have this next to a POW camp.

It has got me thinking, any ideas as to the amount of POW in Blighty during the war?

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