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Remembered Today:

Gardelegen POW Camp


Dan180
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Hi all,

One of my relatives, Charles Frank Edwards, joined the 4th Grenadier Guards (part of the 4th Guards Brigade) in May 1916. Charles was involved in the defence of Hazebrouck between the 11th and 13th April 1918 during Operation Georgette. Over the three days, the 4th battalion suffered horrendous casualties - 17 of 19 officers were killed, and 504 other ranks were considered killed, wounded or missing (over 90% of the battalion according to the unit war diary). Lieutenant-General Beauvoir De Lisle, commander of XV Corps, later wrote that "The history of the British army can record nothing finer than the story of the 4th Guards Brigade on the 12th and 13th April, 1918."

Charles was recorded as missing on the 13th April. Red Cross records then show him as being a POW at Gardelegen POW camp in Altmark, Germany until his repatriation to Britain on the 20th November 1918.

I was wondering whether anyone could point me towards any information on Gardelegen during this period - particularly any memoirs or accounts of former prisoners? Indeed, if anyone can shed any light on Gardelegen generally I would be grateful, particularly camp conditions and the experience of prisoners. It seems that there is little information on Gardelegen generally on Google, so I would appreciate any information or insight into the camp in which my relative was imprisoned.

Cheers.

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Here’s a photo (see below). The prison camp came into operation right from the start of the war in 1914 and could house around 10,000 prisoners from many countries including Russia, France, Italy and UK. The prison buildings were located in the Zienau district, a couple of kilometres south-east of the centre of Gardelegen. Many of the prisoners were employed in the local forests and on the land surrounding the town, supporting agricultural production.

MB

 

 

1EE84E12-BFE4-4F3E-B1F1-95CA76592880.jpeg

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There are a number of references to Gardelagen camp on the web including on the LLT linked above. Its not one I have any knowledge of though having had a quick look it seems to have been a large camp from which prisoners were distributed to satellite camps for labour purposes, much the same as Dulmen, Limburg, Gustrow etc.

This may mean that although registered at Gardelagen for admin purposes, he may not have been there long if at all. If my grandads camp was anything to go by, the German nation was on its knees by mid 1918 and notions of forcing the prisoners had significantly subsided, whilst being captured may not be the ideal, at least they weren't being gassed, shelled or shot at on a regular basis.

 

Simon

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See also….

https://issuu.com/stadtspiegelgardelegen/docs/stadtspiegel_januar2014/6

(Several good photos, with an article written in German).

Oberst. a.D. Grüner was Camp,Commandant - a fairly ancient Prussian officer! 

MB

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I have these two references dealing with Gardelegen: public library inter-library loans may be able to assist with the first.

Great Britain. Government Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of British Prisoners of War. Report on the typhus epidemic at Gardelegen, by the Government Committee … during the spring and summer of 1915. London: HMSO, 1916.

Wilson HW. Convicted out of her own mouth: the record of German crimes. London: Hodder & Stoughton; New York: George H. Doran Co., 1917 [typhus at Gardelegen prisoner of war camp]. https://archive.org/details/convictedoutofhei00wils

Regards,

sJ

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