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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Prisoners in Arrest Houses


mhurst

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An old friend has recently told me about the experiences of her grandfather, who served in the 1st Battalion the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He won the DCM at the Aisne in September 1914, but was captured near Gheluvelt on 2nd November, spending the rest of the war in captivity in Germany.

What caught my eye in the story was that he was separated with 38 other offices and placed in the Schnurgasse Arrest House in Cologne, in retaliation for the treatment of captured German submarine crews in England, according to an undated report in her family's local paper. Other arrest house locations were Magdeburg and Frankfurt-on-Oder. There is no record of bad treatment by his captors, and he was repatriated in January 1919. Unfortunately, my friend's grandfather died when she was very young, so she could not get the story first-hand. Has anybody heard of this type of barracks and what type of treatment was meted out to British prisoners there; if so, what exactly did it entail?

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If you haven't come across it yet, see Page 3 of this publication, Map of the Main Prison Camps in Germany and Austria by Mrs Pope Hennessy, London: https://archive.org/details/ofmainprisoncmap00poperich/page/n1/mode/2up. It states: 'COLOGNE. — The largest town (pop. 500,000) in Rhenish Prussia and one of the most important commercial places in Germany, with extensive harbour works and wharves on the Rhine. A first-class fortress. There is no general camp for prisoners here, but there are several hospitals. The majority of the British prisoners are treated either in the Garnison Lazaret I or the Kaiserin Augusta Schule Lazaret VI. There is also a prison for officers undergoing special punishment in the Schnurgasse, a massive old military prison'.

I believe that the definition 'arrest camp' in other POW locations was a separate punishment area, as described in this website: https://ayrshirecu.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/memoirs-of-a-scottish-prisoner-part-2/, which states: 'The cell was in total darkness and you were only allowed the German ration of bread and water. Every 5th day the small shutter is opened to allow light to come in, and you also got a basin of soup.' I imagine, but do not know, that the Schnurgasse Arrest House was a whole location devoted to a similarly harsh regime.'

Acknown 

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Many thanks. I shall follow up on the links you have given.

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Interestingly, you describe him winning a DCM, which was for other ranks, but being an officer, and ending up in an officers' 'arrest house'. Could either of these facts be mistaken? It would be interesting to know his rank and name.

Also, have you looked him up on the ICRC website? https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/

Acknown

Addition: Here are the officers that the 1st KRRC War Diary reports as missing on 02 Nov 14 (courtesy of Ancestry):

1860818006_MISSINGDCM.JPG.d16a7b27f1365593571c21a085a91a98.JPG

Addition 2: If you are really keen, you might contact the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum to see if the staff have any records.

Edited by Acknown
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