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Dulmen POW Camp


wyndham
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I should have said ICRC, sorry about that

a bit of a mystery then, good luck with your research

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I should have said ICRC, sorry about that

a bit of a mystery then, good luck with your research

Thanks for clearing that one up. Perhaps I should have been more explicit when I first posted instead, I seem to have caused confusion/misunderstanding - sorry about that.

Thank you too for putting up the information about your wife's great uncle. I am collecting information on Dulmen so any snippet is most welcome. I also find it helpful to get the names of the work camps attached to Dulmen and the work they were engaged in at these camps. Evidence at the moment regarding those who remained accommodated at the camp and were fit enough to work, indicates many were taken out on a daily basis which for some entailed agricultural labour.

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I have a write up of his experience in Dulmen which I will send via PM when I get home. this was discussed previously (see below) he was moved to Engers work camp, which I understand was part of Limberg?

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=86504&page=2 post 37

regards

Bob R.

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I have a write up of his experience in Dulmen which I will send via PM when I get home. this was discussed previously (see below) he was moved to Engers work camp, which I understand was part of Limberg?

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=86504&page=2 post 37

regards

Bob R.

Thank you for the offer Bob, that would be great and thank you for linking so I could find your information so quickly. There is something niggling me now about how far from Dulmen working camps...something I've seen somewhere else and need to follow up.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Although a little late from original posting of thread, I would like to get a translation of A.L.Bonsey's memoirs of Dulmen camp if possible as written by German school children. It was one of the camps my step-mother's father was sent to, along with Stendal and Munster1. Any additional information about any of these camps would be welcome.

Many Thanks,

Lorraine.

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Hi Lorraine,

I know you posted on the translation thread on Oliver Dummer can I just ask if it is him you are chasing here...I can see your location is Wales and the Welsh connection on the other thread...I had a look at Oliver's ICRC record from that other thread. Can I just ask, as he was a tunneller was he also a miner before his war service?

The reason I ask is that:

Some prisoners who had previous mining experience were happy to go down the mines, it was a comfort zone for them.

Others hid their mining experience because although they were happy to go down the mines they weren't happy about mining for the Germans. That said, the Germans often gave them little choice in the matter - they were sent.

Some had mining experience but even hid it from the British, they joined to get away from the mines.

Then, there were the men who had never seen a pithead in their lives who were given mining jobs in Germany.

A.L. Bonsey wasn't at Dulmen for long but he fell into the last category of the above. He was also, by the time of the Armistice in a Munster hospital. His ICRC records are very confusing. I can pull up the PA numbers and post them but, there seems to be two cards for that name that have some similarities but the service number is wrong on one of them and I've not got to grips of working out whether both cards and therefore both sets of records relate to Albert Leslie Bonsey.

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A.L. Bonsey wasn't at Dulmen for long but he fell into the last category of the above. He was also, by the time of the Armistice in a Munster hospital. His ICRC records are very confusing. I can pull up the PA numbers and post them but, there seems to be two cards for that name that have some similarities but the service number is wrong on one of them and I've not got to grips of working out whether both cards and therefore both sets of records relate to Albert Leslie Bonsey.

Only a 99% certainty but I would say the ICRC index cards are for the same person, the date and place of capture, the home address are - allowing for the usual problems - the same and also the date of birth 19.02.1893 or 6. It's all too similar to be two different people. Nothing in my experience out the ordinary.

A quick check of the MiCs gives 14650 as his correct number, there is not a MiC for a 56170 in the East Surreys or for anyone with a name similar to Bonsey, again nothing unusual to find an incorrect service number.

Charlie

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Thanks Charlie, I value the second opinion. Yes, the service number on one of the cards tallies with his memoirs but not the other. I'm going to try and get onto my PC to check his DOB. His date of birth was also another bugbear for me...

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Only a 99% certainty but I would say the ICRC index cards are for the same person, the date and place of capture, the home address are - allowing for the usual problems - the same and also the date of birth 19.02.1893 or 6. It's all too similar to be two different people. Nothing in my experience out the ordinary.

A quick check of the MiCs gives 14650 as his correct number, there is not a MiC for a 56170 in the East Surreys or for anyone with a name similar to Bonsey, again nothing unusual to find an incorrect service number.

Charlie

He gives his DOB as 19/2/1897 - I thought it was the same year as my granddad and his age on the ICRC records is also a year out. Also, I have come across examples of two men with the same name being very mixed up.

I have noticed, before Lorraine raised his name again this evening that there seems to be some discrepancies regarding him from earlier posts. For example, post #2 refers to a translation I have not seen because the links seem to be broken but it mixes up translations coming on two men A.L. Bonsey and Paul Vermeulen. I would just like to say that Pte. Bonsey wrote his memoirs in 1923 not as I understand it from post #2 a report to the Ministry of War. Unless of course he made a further POW statement but, as he didn't escape and wasn't repatriated early I cannot see that myself (happy to be corrected of course). He lived after the war with his wife. After his wife died, his next door neighbour re-copied and collated his memoirs. The original manuscript is with the Regimental Museum and two copies were then further donated to two other museums one of which was the IWM. So in that respect, I hope at least this helps to clear up any previous issues. It is possible that what was on the original link which can no longer be seen was not given correctly or not translated correctly but as I cannot see it, I can't comment.

Meanwhile, I'll revisit his ICRC and try to reconcile both lots with what he says and hopefully Lorraine will revisit with some information on Oliver's mining experience. I did have a dig around after the post on the other thread and his tunnelling unit were used as emergency infantry. I only found out a few weeks ago that mining was a particular problem for the Australians and they raised the issue. Apparently, their pay books were taken by the Germans and in the books, it identified their pre-war occupations so all those who had previously been miners had no escape they were sent to the mines.


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Hi Seaforths,

Thanks for replying so promptly, yes it is him I'm referring to. Oliver did work in the coal mining industry pre & post war he may have worked below ground initially pre-war, this is unknown by his daughter, but definately post-war, although employed in the mining industry, he wasn't a miner as such. He was an Incline Engine Driver, this would have been above-ground, operating the trams that pulled the coal to and from the pit-head to a lower level for taking to nearby railway sidings for onward transport. The fact that he was enlisted with a Tunnelling Company also suggests to me that he had experience/skills in the mining industry as did his father and siblings.

Oliver's ICRC records also show a discrepency in his DOB, two are correct 03/02/1897 but one says 03/12/1897,( Munster1). As his name is unusual, (middle initial only used in Dulmen), his reg. no. on only two and his address is correct on all three, although spelling varies, I am presuming there is only one Oliver Garfield Dummer in 182nd Tunnellers Company and all records relate to him. The Stendal record shows the least information about him, the Dulmen record the most. Looks like mistakes were common.

Family information suggests he was sent to work in the mines, also that he escaped and was recaptured several times during his war service, no proof of either exists, to the best of my knowledge.

I have only recently become aware of the release of the ICRC records and as a result have tried to read a lot on the different forums about POW's and various camps, this is why I'm keen to find out as much as I can about, Dulmen, Munster1 & Stendal. His records also show him been first detained at Bohain, (have not yet found anything about this place), and he was definately kept behind the lines too, as shown on his Dulmen record, which is why I've posted on other threads, any additional information would be gratefully received for any or all of these camps/places.

Many Thanks,

Lorraine.

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Hi Seaforths Again,

Whoops! Error....comment about being kept behind the lines should have been Stendal camp not Dulmen, sorry,

Lorraine.

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Hi Lorraine,

Thanks for that comprehensive response. Given the similar camp registration for Oliver and A.L.B and the mining connection. I can see why you would want to see his memoir. I'll contact you via private to pass it on to you.

The chances of confirming if Oliver was put to work in a mine would be difficult to prove. The chances of them being in the same mine even more so. The Germans did try to get information from the POWs as to their previous war skills but ultimately, they would send them where they were needed most, as happened to A.L.B.

However, looking at statements and memoirs etc. on the various mines in 1918, might enable you to get an impression of the conditions and not all jobs were below ground either. It's rather like my grandfather, I know that pre-war, he worked on a farm. I know that as a POW he was employed on agricultural work on a farm (while at Dulmen). I'll never know which farm but finding statements on Dulmen and especially statements regarding the agricultural work helps me to get an idea of the conditions for them. The thing I find odd is that quite a few books seem to reflect that those employed on farm work had it easier and that wasn't true. It was, like all the other jobs they were given, a bit of a lottery.

I won't be able to contact you until this evening and I'm working a late shift today - so it might be quite late at that.

Hopefully some of the forum pals - especially those with relatives that also worked in mines might know of and be able to suggest some helpful statements to track down. There is an index for WO 161 (prisoners' reports) that would help there too. Not on a PC and having to go to work, I can't go and look just now.

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Hi Seaforths,

I am replying on the thread rather than personal messaging you for two reasons, firstly so that others can see the wonderful help you have given me, for which I am very grateful but also in the hope that as you suggest other members may be able to lead me to other threads giving details of conditions endured by POW's in the mines in 1918 or about camp conditions etc.

Thank you so very much for sending translation of A.L. Bonsey's memoir, it made interesting reading, I'm sure my step-mum will be pleased to see it. I have warned her that it may make grim reading but she insists she really wants to know as much as possible. I feel sure that supposed protection of their loved ones, from knowing all the realities of the horrors of war, was another reason many were reluctant to talk about their experiences. I remember several years ago asking an ex-colleague who had been an RAF bomber pilot, DFC holder, and POW in Stalag 1 & 3 during WW2, about his war years, his reply, ''You don't want to know about that'', he refused to say any more. He has since sadly passed away but I have researched his history recently for his relatives, he will ever remain a hero in my eyes.

I will look further into any other reports/statements/memoirs of others sent to work in the mines, although I have already checked Oliver and there are none for him. I have also checked the other 182nd Tunneller who travelled home with him and was in Dulmen and Stendal at the same time as Oliver, with the same negative result. The report of him working in mines during captivity originates from family accounts, I am waiting a reply from my step-mum to see if questions I've sent can prompt her to remember where this may have originated from or if there is any other information she can remember, or if any other relative may know more. Sadly, at 91 she's one of the only remaining living relatives of her era and was an only child, therefore, no other siblings to help. It may take her a few days before I get a reply as my father will probably have to raid the loft to see if there's anything there that may help. I do think its highly likely because of his previous mining experience that he was sent to work in the mines.

I feel certain that any work tasks POW's were sent on would not have been easy, everything is relevant, they most probably would have been allocated the worst of the jobs, working long hours, been given arduous tasks, overseen by guards/managers of dubious character, plus surviving on such meagre rations, would not have been the best conditions for anyone. Reading A.L.B.'s memoir is sufficient to realise that because he had never been used to work underground, he would have found it horrendous but for those used to mining it was probably little different from the surroundings they knew so well, however, it did make it worse for all, under the conditions of captivity. Agricultural work, to my mind, has never been easy, working out in all weathers, much of it back-breaking work, the only possible advantage for some may have been that they were a little better fed or accomodated but not all I feel sure.

Please don't feel under any pressure to reply quickly, after all you are giving freely of your time to help others and your own life comes first. Any help is appreciated, especially when you provide leads on how to research further for yourself, sometimes all you need are pointers in the right direction.

Many, many, thanks once again,

Lorraine.

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DULMEN.—A small town (pop. 7,500) with a castle surrounded by estates of the Duke of Croy-Diilmen, the centre of numerous working commandos.There is a large assembly camp placed on high heather ground five miles from the town.The barracks are good.7th Army Corps.


Here are some pics from the Town & Camp

post-7206-0-50384400-1442432032_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-82366000-1442432045_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-11033400-1442432168_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-85591500-1442432181_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-12499100-1442432197_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-95793400-1442432211_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-21106700-1442432229_thumb.jp

post-7206-0-30442100-1442432244_thumb.jp

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Lorraine, thank you for your kind comments and you are welcome. I can see from the exchange of PMs we had on from the other thread, that you are already a very experienced ancestry and genealogy researcher and while you might be new to WW1 research, I'm sure with that background, you will soon get to grips with your WW1 research. And hopefully if you need any help or pointers, you will get it from the forum members. Your step mum (again from PM correspondence) sounds quite an amazing lady at her age! The dozen or so pages wasn't a translation just an extraction from the original. It was already prepared in Word and I managed to get it away to you before I got out the door today.


themonsstar - you are a gem! :thumbsup::D thank you! Didn't expect to see the market place - with fountain. There must be a few stories around that camp fountain.


My candle burning in from both ends tonight and I'm back on late shift tomorrow.

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Hi Seaforths & Themonsstar,

Thanks to you both, the pictures are really great, I'm sure my step-mum will be thrilled to see the town close to Dulmen camp where Oliver was detained, even though he may not have seen it himself or been free to look around it. Yes, she is quite a lady, up until 4 years ago she was fit and agile, unfortunately, a fall has eventually resulted in her diminishing mobility, though this doesn't stop her and my dad driving to France twice a year for holidays. My dad is still an excellent driver aged 89 and cares alone for her and does all the household duties himself, both quite remarkable for their ages.

I did realise the translation was only an extract but gives a good idea of what conditions were like for POW's, would love to be able to see the original memoir. I managed to find some recordings on-line on the Imperial War Museum website, of ex-POW media interviews, long after the war. One tells of how they were kept working behind the lines following capture for 6 weeks, which he described as hell, before being placed in a camp, more proof that they were kept where they shouldn't have been, as stated on another thread. Have not had time to listen to many yet as each recording is about 30 mins long and they may have several recordings per person. I have also looked at several other forum threads, picking up useful information along the way. Haven't yet managed to find any other memoirs for POW's working in mines but will keep searching. The biggest problem is keeping focused, when I see some of the threads, I can't help going through the whole of the posts as many are so interesting to read.

I realised I knew little about the two world wars and until 18 months ago when both through various genealogy research leading me to it and requests from others for information about their war relatives, I have learned so much, even though I'm still only scratching the surface, it amazing how much you can discover wiith a little help and guidance. Bringing me back to how grateful I am for the help that already been given, thank you both again so much.

Lorraine.

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Hi Themonsstar,

Thank you so much once again, what a fabulous amount and variety you have sent, really appreciate the time you have taken to send them all, my step-mum will be thrilled. It would be amazing if she recognised hiim in any of the photos but a long-shot I think.

As the name suggests you really are a star!!

Lorraine.

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More great images themonsstar! Thanks for that.

Lorraine - father and step-mum are amazing at that age to be so independent. I wonder how she will deal with the research and hope it's not too much. I often wonder how my mother would have taken what I've found out. It's sad that she pushed me into finding out but never lived to see the results.

Currently working on Ruhr coal mines running through Rheinland and Westfalen. In 1850 around 300 coal mines in the Ruhr. I’ve been working on a 1925 map and successfully stitched the two halves together. It gives the following coverage of mines and minefields:

From Dulmen Bahnhof in the north, down to Elberfeld and Barmen in the south
From Kleve in the west, across to just short of Soest in the east.

It’s a work in progress at the moment and I could do with a decent contemporary map showing strong rail routes to overlay this map onto because it's not great on location details but shows rail routes and occasional bahnhofs. I’ve managed to identify a pretty good one that’s a little shy on the west side. Whether it will work to overlay onto, I don’t know. Sometimes these map projects work out very well and sometimes not. Not helping that the my preferred software I was trialling has now ran out. I'll see if I can get another trial going (if I manage that, it will be my 4th!)

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Hi Seaforths

This may be of some use to you, all the mines past and present in the Ruhr area located on a present day map. I thought minefields were a bit different to coalfields :)

http://www.zechenkarte.de/wiki/index.php?title=Schachtkarte

Charlie

Thanks for the link Charlie, I got a bit distracted playing with that tonight when I should have been doing other things...gave me food for thought tho'

Edit: I realised after I posted about the minefields/coalfields. I just got so used to saying 'minefields' in my head because I was looking at other mines over the weekend. Still, both have the potential to go up with a bang! :D

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Hi Again Seaforths & Themonsstar,

What fantastic work you are both doing, have looked at link for map of mines, need to translate to find out what the key means and which are coal mines, which I'll do shortly but had no idea that mines would be so prolific. Hope you are successful in creating map with the coal mines on, this would be very useful to many I think, even if the actual mine they were sent to can't be pin-pointed. There is so much to learn thanks to forum's like this and people like you, who are willing to help novices like me, thank you both sincerely again.

Lorraine.

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  • 4 months later...

Just catching up with this enormously helpful forum. My father, Pte Gordon Wilcox, a Londoner assigned to the North Staffords and transferred during training to the Royal Guernseys, was taken prisoner at Doulieu on 12th April 1918 and held at Dulmen; he too came home on the Takada. Like most, he spoke little - and was in his 40s when I was born - but did write some laconic notes before he died, and had brought home about 20 postcards of the camp - all now posted here! - plus a few of the town. There's almost nothing to see at the site, but the Stadtarchiv staff were incredibly helpful when my son and I visited, laying out all their relevant material on tables for us to see and supplying copies of the site plan, Bonsey (in German) and Rudolf Hermanns' archaeology report. Thank you for opening up further research avenues.

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