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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Civilian PoW's at Gustrow

Doug Johnson

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The attached photograph shows what I believe are a group of civilians in Gustrow PoW camp in March 1918. There are three signatures on the back plus five names added by my grandfather who was in the camp from 1914. Those that can count will note that this is eight names in total and only seven people on the photograph! The names appear to be; ? Bruce Sawyer, W August Pridom?, Gordon Allday, Bartlett, Clark, Hodges, Povill and Garland. My guess at the moment is that these were prisoners taken by the raider Wolf. I know that some of the civilians taken by the Wolf ended up in Gustrow as there is an account by A H F Clarke in the IWM archives which I have yet to get a look at (including a photograph of him) This may be the same Clark as in the photograph. One of Wolf's prisoners was a young englishman captured on board the Japenese ship Hitachi Maru. He was on his way home to enlist. Being taken prisoner before enlisting must be unique! Apparently the Geneve convention did not stretch to civilians and they were treated with contemp. One Australian businessman was forced to push a night cart at the point of a bayonet! Does anyone know anything about civilian prisoners or where I can find passenger lists?



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Hitachi Maru Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha

Offical No 105777

Port of Registry Tokyo

Call Sign LCBS

Built by Mitsubishi Dockyard & Engineering Works Nagasaki 1906 yard no 188

Triple expansion engines by builders 2 shafts 14 knots

Funnel black

House flag with with 2 horizontal red bands

Seized by Wolf 29/9/1917 14 crew killed 6 wounded

Scuttled 6/11/1917

Captin Tominaga of the Hitachi Maru haunted by the surrender of his ship vanished overboard from the Wolf & was lost

All The Best


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  • 1 month later...

More research on the above has revealed the following;

They were all civilian prisoners taken by the raider wolf. More specifically they were all from the Hitachi Maru.

Centre front is Arthur Henry Frank Clarke who wrote "To kiel on the German raider Wolf - and after" Clarke was a civil engineer returning home (born in Bristol) as he was sick.

When the Wolf returned to Kiel there about six hundred prisoners on board. Some three hundred were sent on one train to Gustrow. Presumably the nearest camp that could handle a large influx. Most Officers appear to have been sent directly elsewhere but some were sent to Gutrow and transferred later to officers camp.

These civilians were at Gustrow for two weeks and the photograph was taken the day before they left for Holzminden. According to Clarke, Holzminden was a punishment camp.

At Holzminden the prisoners were classified A1 to D4 where A1 was fit for any work, C3 was light duties only and D4 was unfit for any work but, according to Clarke, was only issued concurrently with a death certificate!

The independent agencies finally tracked down the civilians at Holzminden and arranged for them to be transferred to Ruhleben which was done after a few weeks. Not all the civilian prisoners at Holzminden were transferred however and it is possible that not all the civilians that were sent to other camps were located by the agencies.

Ruhbelen was the principle camp for civilians and was, by all accounts, the prison to be in. It was well organised and there was a lot going on. The main drawback of Ruhleben appears to have been the lack of effective heating. (The IWM have a large number of very interesting photographs of Ruhleben)

Once at Ruhleben the prisoners were well treated and any ill treatment to civilians could only have been meted out to those who were in other camps for whatever reason.

Clarke opinion of the three camps was that Gustrow and Holzminden were dire and Ruhleben was just OK.


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  • 9 years later...
  • 7 months later...
Guest Colombo Kid

Front row on the right is my Grandfather Gordon Allday. He was the young man travelling on the Hitachi Maru to UK to enlist and was captured by the raider Wolf. If you wish to know any more info let me know. Regards, Duncan Philps.

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  • 3 weeks later...


The thread on The Danish Scheme mentions Japanese POW's that came back on that scheme, I have in my possession an Imperial Japanese navy (merchant or miltary I don't know) embroidered cap badge brought back by my grandad, whether he was given it whilst at Gustrow or on the way back form Denmark I do not know. I will try and post a pic of the badge on another part of the forum for a proper id - wish me luck !

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