Larkhill, January 13, 1917

Saturday    Today its fresh dry and clear watched German prisoners at work


German POWs working on the land. copyright IWM Q54200

German prisoners of war could be found in camps all over Britain, most of them in close proximity to military camps. In Wiltshire, there were at least eight prisoner of war camps including one at Larkhill and one at nearby Bulford; Perham Down was a mere 8.4 miles (13.5 kms), and Chisledon some 22 miles (35.4 kms) from Larkhill. In addition, there were internment camps for civilians. (1) The prisoners of war were generally labourers in agriculture or road-building.
Gordon Brown said that there were “a few German prisoners near here whom they make work on improvements round the camp, but I have not seen them.” (2)

A British propaganda film shows life in the prisoner of war camp at Dorchester,


German POWs working on the land. copyright IWM Q54703

“beautifully situated within a few miles of the sea,” some fifty miles (80 kms) southwest of Larkhill. The prisoners are shown working at carpentry, baking, reading and playing chess; they have gardens and rabbits and their own YMCA. The day-to-day reality was probably considerably harsher.

(1) Crawford, T.S. Wiltshire and the Great war: Training the Empire’s Soldiers. 2012
(2) Brown, Robert Gordon. Letter to his mother, January 14, 1917. Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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