Watercolour of POW Camp

Just as British POWs were held in camps in occupied Europe, German and Italian prisoners were held in prison camps across the United Kingdom. These camps varied form converted mills in Oldham to proper facilities with wooden huts, fences and guard towers. Tonight we have a delightful amateur watercolour of a POW camp painted, I believe, by Lt Davies of the E Yorkshire Regiment. According to his grandson he was both an amateur artist and involved with the interrogation of prisoners at some point in the war and it seems likely that he painted this piece at that time:imageThe image shows the building and entrance to the camp, rather than the prisoner’s accommodation itself. In the foreground a sentry stands in a box by a raising barrier:imageA series of camouflaged buildings stand to the right:imageA large flag flies over these with what appears to be a red dragon on it, suggesting the camp might be in Wales:imageThe number on the flag appears to be 198, which would indicate this was Camp 198, known as island Farm which was near Bridgend in South Wales. A man pushes a handcart up the main entry road, his uniform looking distinctly Germanic:imageIn the distance a large wire fence and gate, along with a raised guard tower shows where the camp itself lies:imageThe journey from capture to a POW could be traumatic for the individual soldier. Kurt Bock was captured in Holland in 1944 and describes what happened when he reached England:

…hours later, a train took us elsewhere. It was not just an ordinary train; we sat on upholstered seats. There was no screaming and spitting at us like in Holland.

Hampden Park (a large Football ground in Scotland ): long rows of tables. Interrogation:

your name, your rank, your company, your papers. Delousing station. Shower & bath… 

Next day: Nottingham. A huge camp consisting only of tents. Of course, this caused a great disappointment. Here we received cigarettes, a bag and a white handkerchief, which made a great impression on me. But I already had one valuable extra possession: a second blanket… 

The next camp was Crewe Hall, Cheshire (Camp 191). My first days there I felt only relief at the narrow escape out of hell. And this hell was still going on on the other side of the Channel. My family did not know I was safe and I did not know if my parents were alive. I had already learnt of the death of my younger brother Martin…I had nothing but my uniform. Consequently when I caught my first cold I did not have my handkerchief. through the wire a soldier from my company passed me a small red handkerchief…Our daily diet was tea with milk and sugar twice daily poured into an empty corned beef tin-if you had one!

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