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Thread: P.O.W. camps.

  1. #1
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    P.O.W. camps.

    Anyone know how many pow camps there were in the uk? during wwll im guessing quite a lot.


    Where was the luftwaffe kept and navy prisoners?

    Did many escape back stealing our aircraft? i know of the old film were he gets to canada on ship just watched it last month at work now you know the film im sure!


    My gran who was in the land army says italian prisoners worked on many farms and seemed to "like" it here!
    Im a straight talking yorkshire man i just say it as it is i don't fit in this politically correct world.

  2. #2
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    IIRC wasn't there only that one chap who escaped succesfully?
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  3. #3
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    The UK eventually held 402,200 German prisoners of war, at more than 330 camps and hospitals. By the end of the war in May 1945, 404 Axis prisoners had attempted to escape (and a further 1,777 tried after that). By the end of November 1947, 81 had not been recaptured.

    Camp 198 was located on Island Farm at Merthyr Mawr, near Bridgend in South Wales. In the dead of night on 10 March 1945, 67 German POWs tunnelled out of the camp and escaped over the sand dunes. A huge manhunt was set underway. Anti-tank officer Hans Harzheim, Oswald Prior, a U-boat commander, Steffi Ehlert, a Luftwaffe pilot, and one other POW stole the local doctor's car. When it wouldn't start, they were given a jump-start by three British soldiers who were guards at the camp. Then, pretending to be Norwegians, they picked up a hitchhiker, who showed them the way to Gloucester. Elsewhere, SS officer Karl Ludwig was urinated on by a drunken man who was unaware that the German was hiding in his garden bushes.

    In the end, a combination of soldiers, the Home Guard, dogs, local children and Girl Guides tracked them all down. As the prisoners were rounded up one by one, Inspector May, responsible for 'Police Plan X', tracked the progress of the operation by sticking little swastikas into a map.
    The one that got away

    Oberleutnant Franz von Werra, a Luftwaffe pilot, was shot down over England in 1940 during the Battle of Britain. After a failed attempt to escape from the POW camp at Grizedale Hall in Lancashire, he joined a tunnel break-out from the camp at Swanwick, Derbyshire. His plan was to present himself at a nearby RAF station at Hucknall in Nottinghamshire and, posing as Dutch pilot officer Captain Van Lott, steal an aircraft and fly to Germany. Von Werra successfully bluffed his way into the cockpit of a parked Hurricane fighter and was on the point of starting the engine when a pistol was placed to his head by the station's administrative officer, Squadron Leader Boniface.

    Packed off to Canada, von Werra jumped off the train transporting him from port to a new camp. He walked south for a night and a day, a remarkable feat in sub-zero winter weather, crossed the frozen St Lawrence River and gained the safety of the still neutral United States. He returned to a hero's welcome in Germany.

    Undoubtedly brave but also something of a braggart, von Werra died in October 1941 when the aircraft he was flying plunged into the North Sea. He was the subject of a book and a film with the same title: The One that Got Away
    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  4. #4
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    Think the Welsh escape was covered on Coast a bit back, they were all rounded back up eventually though.
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  5. #5
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    Have a look here. or here.

    As for specific service prisoners or country of origin you will need to dig deeper.

    Brian.
    Last edited by pimpernel; 30th March 2010 at 08:14.
    Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.

  6. #6
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    Thanks moggy.

    You can see why they didn't get so far on a "island" up here in Yorkshire Eden camp has quite a few interesting exibits from prisoners of war.

    After the war were they just returned to Germany or let out to freedom?

    Was the conditions better for german prisoners than english/american etc.?
    Im a straight talking yorkshire man i just say it as it is i don't fit in this politically correct world.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moggy C View Post
    Camp 198 was located on Island Farm at Merthyr Mawr, near Bridgend in South Wales. In the dead of night on 10 March 1945, 67 German POWs tunnelled out of the camp and escaped...
    There is a fascinating website about the Island Farm POW camp that has some great details of the escape and photographs taken inside the tunnel (yes, the tunnel is still there, as is the ‘hut’ where the escape took place). There are even photographs of where the prisoners hid the soil from the tunnel...

    ...a hiding place that wasn’t discovered until about 1985!

    POW Camp 198

    Tunnel in 2003
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 30th March 2010 at 08:35.
    WA$.

  8. #8
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    There was a camp near Cambridge; you can still see the remnants of it by the A14 at Milton, where the travellers site is now.

    I knew a chap who was imprisoned there, Gunter "John" Schwartz. It was also a distribution centre for supplies to the American forces. Life was quite easy for the prisoners, they just used to load up food and stuff from trains onto trucks for delivery. John told me they could pinch chocolate, as long as they took the whole box. Damaged cartons would be noticed.

    John stayed in the UK after the war, and eventually became the avionics manager for Aviation Traders. A great guy.

  9. #9
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    Have a trip to Eden Camp - they have a good display on all the POW camps in UK.

    There was one 10 miles here at Featherstone - The local history society says it was originally for the US - but it was too cold and bleak - so they turned it into a POW camp (???).

    Some of the Osties - did not want to go back and stayed over - just near here was where Hans lived at Springfield.
    Kind Regards,

    Brian

  10. #10
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    The London Gliding Club at Dunstable was the site of an Italian POW camp during the war. Some of the old huts survived until recently, and the line of the old fence marked by concrete bases could be seen on the airfield too.

  11. #11
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    The flats, or hotels as they were then, which my Mother in law lived. on Mooragh Promenade, Ramsey Isle of Man, was taken on as POW camps during the 2nd war. Just after she sold it to a builder, he had to do some renovations and stripped away about 5 layers of wall paper, Underneath he found a mural that one of the italian inmates had painted. The builder took a photo of it which I have and will try and dig out, Unfortunatly Some clever sod put a serving hatch in some years ago and took the corner off.

    Easty

  12. #12
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    The One that Got Away is not a bad film - Hardy Kruger. It's quaint to watch an escape story "from the other side".

  13. #13
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    The huts at London Gliding Club where ex WW1. The Beecroft estate at Dunstable was started with POW labour just after WW2. A farmer at Slapton, Bucks had Luftwaffe labours working for him. In Heminingford Abbotts, Cambs a barn was thatched by German POWs. Just out of Woburn there was a WW1 German POW camp.

    Dave

  14. #14
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    During the early part of the war I can remember seeing Italian prisoners of war digging out our snowbound road.
    In 1948 I worked on a farm with a German ex-PoW. I understood he had to do 5 years working where directed and would then be granted English citizenship.

  15. #15
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    Anyone shot trying to escape?

    I recall reading somewhere (so who knows how accurate) that in Canada, they told prisoners that if they escaped that they had Indian (Native Americans/First People) trackers and they would be hunted down and scalped.
    Anyone else ever come across that?

    Sounds like a good story to tell the P.O.W.s...I'm sure after seeing American Western films, some would have believed it even if not true.
    Last edited by J Boyle; 30th March 2010 at 18:20.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  16. #16
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    Looks like Von Werra wasn’t the only one to get away!

    There are some fascinating but brief details of Canadian and American escapes on Wikipedia:

    In total there were more than 600 individual escape attempts from Canadian internment camps, including at least two mass escapes using tunnels. Many German prisoners were motivated by von Werra's earlier success.

    On the night of April 18, 1941 28 German prisoners of war escaped through a 150 foot long tunnel from Angler, Ontario. Originally over 80 Germans planned to escape but Canadian guards discovered the breakout in progress.

    Most escapes attempted flee to the then neutral United States, though prisoners Karl Heinz-Grund and Horst Liebeck made it as far as Medicine Hat, Alberta before being apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The two men planned to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia and make it out of Canada courtesy of the Japanese Merchant Marine.

    Two of the four German prisoners of war killed in the act of escape from Canadian prison camps during the Second World War were shot in the aftermath of the Angler breakout. Three others were wounded.

    The Angler breakout was the single largest successful escape attempt orchestrated by German POWs in North America during the Second World War: the December 23, 1944 breakout of 25 Kriegsmarine and merchant seamen from Papago Park, Arizona was the second largest. In both instances all prisoners were recaptured.

    On 23 November 1941 Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Ulrich Steinhilper escaped from Bowmanville, Ontario and managed to make it to Niagara Falls within two days. Steinhilper unknowingly spent 30 minutes in the neutral United States clinging beneath a train car as it sat idle in a Buffalo, New York railyard. In less than three weeks, he escaped again and made it as far as Montreal, Quebec.

    Within four months Steinhilper would attempt a third escape. On February 18, 1942 Steinhilper and a friend, disguised as painters, used a ladder to escape over two barbed wire fences. The pair would make it as far as Watertown, New York before being arrested by police. Steinhilper was soon sent to Gravenhurst, Ontario where he attempted two further escapes. Dornier Do 17 bomber pilot Oberleutnant Peter Krug made it as far as San Antonio, Texas after staging an escape from Bowmanville, Ontario POW camp on April 17, 1942. In the aftermath of Krug's escape, similar to Steinhilper's, the young Luftwaffe pilot was aided in his flight by Axis sympathizers in United States whose addresses may have been procured from outside Abwehr sources.

    Von Werra's former Swanwick digging partner Luftwaffe Leutnant Walter Manhard successfully escaped from a Gravenhurst, Ontario POW camp while on a swimming excursion. Presumed drowned, he had actually escaped to New York, where he decided to remain. He gave himself up in 1952 () and by then he had married an American woman who was an officer in the United States Navy.

    19 German POWs escaped through a large drainage pipe from Kingston, Ontario on August 26, 1943. All were soon recaptured.

    Karl Rabe of U-35 made four separate escape attempts from Lethbridge, Alberta in 1943 including an attempt using a 24 x 10 foot home-made hot air balloon. Previously he had escaped from a Toronto hospital, subsequently stealing a small row boat with the intention of crossing Lake Ontario to the American shore but beached the craft too soon mistakenly thinking he was already on the American side. He was immediately recaptured by Canadian soldiers.

    Afrika Korps soldier Max Weidauer escaped from Medicine Hat, Alberta in the aftermath of the separate murders of fellow DAK prisoners August Plaszek and Karl Lehmann by Nazi elements. After explaining the circumstances of his escape and the fact that he feared for his life, Weidauer was hidden by a local farmer but was soon once again behind barbed wire.
    Franz von Werra - Wikipedia
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 30th March 2010 at 17:01.
    WA$.

  17. #17
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    Just a few Images from Camp 116 Mill Lane Hatfield Heath, Essex.
    Private property, permission was obtained for a photographic 'sortie' last year. Fantastic time warp of a place!

    Wooden MOWP Huts



    Water tower.



    Terracotta block Huts,


    Mural in dining room



    Kitchen.

    Hertfordshire Airfields Memorial Group
    http://hamg.co.uk

    www.wartime-airfields.com

  18. #18
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    hut interior.



    Camp Commandants quarters.
    Hertfordshire Airfields Memorial Group
    http://hamg.co.uk

    www.wartime-airfields.com

  19. #19
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    Don't forget, of course, the Italian chapel on Lamb Holm in Orkney: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Chapel

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    Quote Originally Posted by piston power! View Post
    Thanks moggy.

    After the war were they just returned to Germany or let out to freedom?
    From what I have seen in passing, quite a number were held on for a considerable time "to rebuild what they had destroyed"... without being offered citizenship.

    This link mentions "out-of-camp work", and that German POWs held in Britain were returned to Germany starting in 1946, with the "hardened Nazis" being held until 1948 or 1949... but it seems a bit "sanitized" compared to what I have seen elsewhere (the ooc work being voluntary post May 1945, for one point).
    http://www.historyonthenet.com/WW2/g...ow_britain.htm

    At the end of the war, prisoners were subjected to a re-education programme designed to equip them for life in the new Germany. Prisoners were also assessed with regard to continuing loyalty to Nazi ideals. Those that showed continuing loyalty remained in captivity. The first German prisoners of war returned to their homes in 1946, the last in 1949.

    This BBC article mentione the use of German POWs post-1945 in a number of occupations:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8564401.stm

    This link discusses the change of designation from "POW" to "disarmed enemy forces", and the accompanying ruling that Geneva Convention rules banning forced labor no longer applied:
    http://www.cyberussr.com/hcunn/for/us-germany-pow.html
    Last edited by Bager1968; 31st March 2010 at 07:32.

  21. #21
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    I always love the story, probably apocryphal, of the German prisoner(s) being set to work on a large estate naturalising daffodil bulbs one one of the sweeping lawns facing the house in a late Autumn.

    The next Spring the words 'Heil Hitler' were splashed in brilliant yellow against the green of the turf.

    I hope it was true, but I have heard it too many times with differences. We'll probably never know.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scouse View Post
    Don't forget, of course, the Italian chapel on Lamb Holm in Orkney: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Chapel
    Beautiful - one of my favourite places.

  23. #23
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    I'm sure the road which runs along the Southern coast of the Isle of Wight was built by POW's during the 1st World War, so there must have been camps there.

    My family orginate in Bedfordshire and I was always told that many Italian POW's stayed after WW2 and worked in the Bedford brickfields, hence a large population of Italians / Sicilians in the Bedford / Leighton Buzzard area. My mother reckons there was also an Italian POW camp between Leighton Buzzard and Hemel Hempstead but I cannot find any record of it.

  24. #24
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    Denis, did you check under that stove to see if there was a tunnel entrance!

  25. #25
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    To return to the original question, you may find this interesting.....

    http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/u..._War_Camps.pdf

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moggy C View Post
    The next Spring the words 'Heil Hitler' were splashed in brilliant yellow against the green of the turf.

    I hope it was true, but I have heard it too many times with differences. We'll probably never know.

    Moggy
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  27. #27
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    I know of at least one German POW camp in the British Isles that held Allied POWs.
    Ian

    MAKING A LIVING IN PHOTOGRAPHY BUT ONLY ON MY WIFE'S TALENTS

  28. #28
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    This may be of interest as it lists all the known camps:
    http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/u..._war_camps.pdf

    We had Italian POW working on our family farm and there was a local POW work camp, at Friday Bridge. It is still much as it had been in the war years and has been in use since the POW left as an " International Farm Camp".

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by EN830 View Post
    I know of at least one German POW camp in the British Isles that held Allied POWs.
    And a 'Concentration Camp' too.
    WA$.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creaking Door View Post
    And a 'Concentration Camp' too.
    In fact there were 4. Lager Sylt and Lager Norderney were forced labour camps housing Jews (Sylt) and Eastern Europeans and Spaniards (Norderney). Not sure if either held Western Allied POWs. The other two camps, Borkum and Helgoland, were used to house "volunteers". Bokum for German technicians and nationals from other European countries. Helgoland housed Russian Organisation Todt workers. Approximately 700 inmates died before Alderney was liberated.

    I know of two RAF Spitfires that came down on the island but believe that bot pilots were taken to mainland Europe as POW. Several Islanders of British origin were sent to work on the fortifications for crimes against the occupying forces.

    On Jersey there was a POW camp at Snow Hill and several allied prisoners were held in the old Gloucester St jail. This is now gone and the General Hospital has been built in its place. There is evidence of the POW camp at Snow Hill, however this is now under threat from development.
    Ian

    MAKING A LIVING IN PHOTOGRAPHY BUT ONLY ON MY WIFE'S TALENTS

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