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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Transportation of German POWs to England

Bob Chandler

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I am trying to find out about the transportation of German POWs to England - i.e. who was responsible, what troops were involved, etc. - and the role of the National Reserve in this. My grandfather was with the Newbury Battalion of the Royal Berks Regiment National Reserve (having been a Berkshire Yeomanry Trooper before the war) and I know that he spent the early part of the war guarding German POWs and Internees on Newbury Racecourse. However, I have a photograph of him in uniform taken on board a ship, and we don't get many ships in West Berkshire! It has been suggested that he may have been guarding POWs on one of the 'hulk' ships anchored in the Solent, but my late uncle insisted that Reserve troops like grandad were used to actually escort the POWs back from the French Channel Ports to Southampton etc. It seems to make sense to me, as it would surely be a waste of manpower to use combat troops in this role. Does anyone have any information on this?

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Hi Charles

I don't have much to offer, but I hope this extract from our local paper is of interest.


Dated 30th January 1915

German prisoner’s funeral at Ryde

The funeral of Hugh F.H. Ahrens aged 27, a German prisoner of war, who died on H.M.T. Tunisian off Ryde on the previous Wednesday, took place on Saturday. The obsequies afforded a very unusual sight, about a score of deceased’s fellow prisoners, who followed as mourners, being attended by an armed guard with fixed bayonets. Otherwise the ceremony was quite simple in its character. Two German officers, also prisoners of war, attended the obsequies. The Rev. Lord Montmorres was the officiating clergyman. The crowd included both sympathetic and curious folk. The body was brought ashore by a steam-tug, and on arrival at the Pier head, covered by the German flag, was placed on the electric railway. At the pier gates, it was transferred to an open funeral car. The prisoners attending the funeral were flanked on either side in close single file by a large number of men of the National Reserve, in the rear being the armed guard with their fixed bayonets. On the coffin were two handsome wreaths of red and white flowers tied with the German colours. Major A.J. Mawer, commander of the National Reserve Guard, Somerset Light Infantry and Lieut E.J. Seldon, adjutant, H.M.T. Tunisian, also attended. None of the public were admitted to the chapel, at the doors of which the armed guard were placed. At the conclusion of the service at the grave, where a large number of the general public had assembled, each of the deceased’s fellow prisoners was allowed to file by, and on passing they threw three handfuls of earth upon the coffin. Messrs. Purnell of Ryde, were responsible for the arrangements.


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  • 1 month later...

Dear Gareth

Many thanks for the response and apologies for the delay in acknowledging it (fitting new kitchen!).



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