The prisoner of war, Vol 3, No. 29, September 1944

MWhiteheadT1502391-180307-06.pdf

Title

The prisoner of war, Vol 3, No. 29, September 1944

Description

Includes: editorial matters, dispensing by air mail; greetings at Lisbon; the letters they write home; official reports from the camps; groups from the camps; the brighter side; 'send us books...'; how they help (fundraising at home); examination results; knitting pattern for sleeveless pullover; parcels and any questions? Includes photographs throughout.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-09

Contributor

Roger Dunsford

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

Sixteen printed pages

Language

Type

Identifier

MWhiteheadT1502391-180307-06

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

The Prisoner of War

[symbol] THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR DEPARTMENT OF THE RED CROSS AND ST. JOHN WAR ORGANISATION, ST. JAMES'S PALACE, LONDON, S.W.1 [symbol]

Vol 3. NO. 29 Free to Next-of-Kin September, 1944

The Editor Writes –

It has always been evident that as the war reached its concluding stages the route for parcels into Germany via Lisbon, Marseille and Geneva might be subject to interruptions, and, as we informed our readers last month, traffic by the normal route has been suspended. In conjunction with the International Red Cross Committee and with the American and Canadian Red Cross organisations, however, close consideration has been given for some time to the possibility of finding alternative routes into Germany. As a result two Swedish ships the “Mangalore” and the “Travancore,” which crossed the Atlantic with food and comfort parcels for prisoners, have been diverted by the American Red Cross from Marseille to Gothenburg in South Sweden.

Reserves of Food
We know that there are reserve stocks in the prison camps and that supplies have been getting through from the reserves built up in Geneva. All the Red Cross organisations concerned are doing their utmost to restore the regular traffic of parcels, and it may well be that the course of the war will bring about a rapid improvement in the transport position. A statement will be found on page 2.

Moved from Poland
Relatives of men in camps in Eastern Europe are anxious, as I well know, for news of what is happening to them as the Russian advance continues. It is likely that the Germans will have taken all possible precautions for the safe internment of these men; but rumours about movements of prisoners, as one might expect, are difficult to confirm. All that we know definitely is that prisoners at Stalag XXID at Posen, Poland, and Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug have been moved to other camps. Letters have come from them from Stalags 344, VIIIB, Stalag 357 (Thorn), and Stalag Luft IV (Tychow).

Air Mail Reminder
In reminding us that letters from this country to prisoners of war and internees in Germany can again be sent by air mail, the Post Office authorities – who were obliged for military reasons to suspend the service shortly before the invasion – point out that the air postage rates are also once again “as usual” – namely, 5d. for the first ounce and 3d. for each additional ounce (postcards 2 1/2d.). Special stamped air letter cards can be obtained for 3d. each from all principal post offices.

[photograph]
EN ROUTE FOR SWEDEN. – Loading Red Cross parcels at Philadelphia on to the Swedish ship “Travancore.”

Our Camp Helpers
I mentioned a month or two ago the remarkable way in which prisoners at Stalag IVC, not to be outdone by the efforts of their families at home, are managing to put aside their hard-won earnings in aid of the Fund. News of this practice at other camps has since reached me – and wonderful news it is. At Stalag XVIIIA, writes one man, they have set themselves the astonishing target of £10,000, about £160 of which has already been raised among the twenty-four members of an outlying work-party. Two work-camps of Stalag IVD have also fine achievements to report. One of them, sixty-seven strong, has produced £87 in two days, while at the other – so a prisoner tells his wife in Edward's Lane Estate, Arnold – he and his one hundred and fifty-nine companions have between them collected in Reichmarks the equivalent of £1,000, “for the Red Cross, God bless them.”

P.o.W. Airmen's Promotion
A welcome reassurance on the promotion prospects for R.A.F. ground personnel now in captivity was given recently by Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air. Replying in the House of Commons to a Member who was under the impression that Regular airmen of this category were being treated unfairly in comparison with non-Regulars, he pointed out that there are two separate systems of promotion – one for air crew and the other

[page break]

2 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

for ground personnel, regardless of whether a man belonging to either of them has joined up for a career or merely for the duration of the war. A time basis governs the aircrew category, whose members are promoted in due course wherever they may be. But ground personnel depend for their rise on actual vacancies available for them in higher ranks, and it is therefore impossible to promote them to posts which, from a prison camp, they are in no position to fulfil. On the other hand, as soon as they come home, declared Sir Archibald, “they are granted the rank which they would have obtained but for the interruption of their effective service.”

After-Care
Speaking at Whitley, Surrey, about prisoners of war at a Bank Holiday fête, Sir John Jarvis, M.P., remarked that the war might be won before all the money subscribed to the Duke of Gloucester's Fund is spent. “That would be all to the good,” he said. “Indeed, I would like to see a substantial sum available, when those lads return, to help them in innumerable ways to find their rightful place in the England they love so well.” No decision can yet be taken as to the disposal of any surplus funds available at the end of the war, but it may be taken for granted that some part of them will be devoted to assisting ex-Servicemen, including ex-prisoners of war who have been incapacitated.

Better News from Moosburg
An indication that things may have improved at Stalag VIIA since the official visit paid it in April (reported in the Journal last month) is provided by a cheerful letter from the Officers' Section at Moosburg, which has recently come to my notice. The prisoners' removal in July to a larger compound, says the writer, “has doubled the living accommodation we had before, so we are now quite well off. We are starting a certain number of classes on different subjects, including art.” He adds, too, that Oflag VIIB, whose members had heard of their needs from men arriving from Moosburg, had sent them a most generous gift of tobacco and 50,000 cigarettes.

Exam. for South Africans
South Africans in captivity have distinguished themselves in a number of ways. To their talent for winning games and dancing Zulu dances must now be added another distinction, for in Stalag VIIIC recently seventeen of them underwent a self-imposed examination on book-keeping equivalent in standard to the National Junior Certificate as set in South Africa. Describing it, the camp education officer shows that conditions were as strict as those observed in any official examination: there were at least two invigilators in the room during the 2 1/2-hour session, and the candidates' papers were marked by qualified “strangers” to avoid the risk of favouritism.

An Indian Looks Back
From Cairo comes eloquent praise of the Red Cross services by an Indian re-patriate, Jemedar Moti Singh, who during his sixteen months as a prisoner in Italy, “Saw everything that the Red Cross did to help.” Many Indian soldiers know nothing of all this specialised assistance, he says, and goes on to confirm the good opinion of the Indian food parcel containing dhal (lentils) and atta (wholemeal flour), from which the men can prepare their native dishes. “Whenever Germans or Italians saw the things in the parcels,” he adds, “they were astonished and began to praise them; although they were enemies, they held the works of the Red Cross in high esteem.”

Tribute from New Zealand
I want to thank the lady in Tauranga, New Zealand, who wrote to tell me how much she looks forward to getting this journal. She and her husband find in it “so much of what we want to know – not only of our son's welfare, but of the colossal work the Red Cross has to do.” It's the personal, informal touch, she says, that makes such a difference. “I always feel happier when I have read the paper, and I know many others here who do the same.”

Clothes Conscious
The issue of a new outfit of battledress, shorts and boots to his work camp with the expectation of underclothes to follow has led a Stalag IVG prisoner to warn his wife in Bognor Regis not to bother about sending him clothes from home. These new additions to the wardrobe have evidently given him and his companion a great fillip to their morale, and they set out for the local cinema dressed up to the nines – even to the “collars and ties we made ourselves.”

Broadening Out
A comforting example of what captivity, despite all its disadvantages, can do for a man is provided from Stalag IVD by a prisoner of long standing. His wife in Diss tells me he now turns the scale at 12st. 2lb. as against the 10st. he weighed before his captivity; and it's not “idle fat” either, for he puts in a long day's work at a cement factory in addition to outdoor exercise at the weekend.

Northern Ireland Service
A Special Service of Intercession for Prisoners of War is to be held in St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, on Sunday, September 24, at 3.30 pm. Two reservation tickets for the service will be sent to each of the first six hundred next of kin who apply, giving their Red Cross Reference Numbers to: The Ulster Gift Fund, 2, Bedford Street, Belfast.

TO GERMANY – VIA SWEDEN
New Route to the Camps
REPORTS from Stockholm appearing in the Press have stated that British Red Cross parcels for prisoners of war in Germany and occupied countries are in future to pass through Sweden.
The use of this new route has resulted from efforts initiated by Red Cross and other authorities to open an alternative channel for supplies in view of the possibility that the course of the war would be likely to interrupt the Lisbon – Marseille – Switzerland traffic for considerable periods. Details of the onward carriage of supplies from Gothenberg [sic] have not yet been finally settled.
The two ships mentioned in the Press notices are fully loaded with American Red Cross supplies and a considerable number of Canadian food parcels for British Commonwealth prisoners.
The service via Sweden will be developed further as circumstances necessitate and conditions permit.

FOOD PARCELS RATIONED
THE War Organisation of the British Red Cross and Order of St. John announce that, as a precautionary measure, and after consultation with H.M. Government, they have requested the I.R.C.C. to instruct camp leaders in Germany to reduce the rate of issue of food parcels to one for each man every two weeks. This decision has been taken in view of the interruption in transport to Geneva and in order to ensure that the best use is made of supplies already in the camps and at Geneva. There is no immediate danger of any serious shortage of food in the camps, and every effort is being made to re-establish effective communication by one route or another.

NEW MAP OF GERMAN CAMPS
THE Prisoners of War Department has published a new map, printed in colours, showing the principal camps for British and Dominions prisoners of war in Germany.
A limited number of copies are now obtainable on application to the Prisoners of War Department, Accounts Section, St. James's Palace, London, S.W.1. The price is: small size, 2d. (by post 3d.); large size, 1s. (by post 1s. 2d.). Remittances should be sent with the order.
There have been unavoidable delays in production and the map itself is correct according to information available up to June 30th, 1944. Any additional information known at the time of posting will, however, be supplied with the map.

[page break]

September, 1944 The Prisoner of War 3

DISPENSING BY AIR MAIL
Through the Work of the Invalid Comforts Section Up-to-date Medical Treatment Awaits Newly Wounded Prisoners

TO the families of all wounded prisoners of war in Germany, as well as of those taken captive in earlier days, it will have been encouraging to learn that the Invalid Comforts Section has been able to start sending supplies of penicillin to German prison camps. The first consignment, despatched by air in July, went to the hospitals attached to Stalags IXC, 344 and VIIA, to which wounded prisoners from the Normandy fronts were being sent.
Penicillin is most needed for treating new wounds, and the British medical officers in these hospitals, who were warned by cable from the International Red Cross to expect its delivery, have thus been able to administer this remarkable new treatment to the most serious cases at the earliest possible moment.

Small Quantities of Penicillin
At present, however, only “small quantities of penicillin are being sent . . . for the treatment of specified prisoners,” as Sir James Grigg, the Minister of War, has told the House of Commons. Ten “standard” packs of it have in fact gone, each containing one carton of the preparation in tablet form, and twelve bottles of distilled water.
It is difficult to assess the average number of men that can be treated by one pack, for it depends, of course, on the severity of the cases.
Thus a new item has been added to the list of urgent medical supplies which now that communications are uncertain, take precedence of everything else being sent to European prison camps by the War Organisation. The list is a comprehensive one, and in spite of present difficulties the Invalid Comforts Section manages to continue its dispensing and despatching by air mail of a wide variety of “wants.”
Still passing through the hands of the Section's packers are the vital anti-typhus serums on their way direct to prison camp hospitals, with the anaesthetics and the supplies of blood plasma, and there are reserves at Geneva which have been prepared by the Section for emergency use.
Airmen shot down in enemy territory who may be suffering from severe burns on hands and face stand a good chance of escape from permanent disfigurement, for there are prison hospitals at which British surgeons are equipped to perform the necessary skin-grafting operations according to the latest method.
The work of the Invalid Comforts Section has made this blessing possible. In collaboration with Mr. Archibald McIndoe, head of the R.A.F. plastic surgery centre in Sussex, sets were compiled of the highly specialised equipment and dressings, and these have been sent with detailed instructions direct to the hospitals concerned. Not only is the patients' future recovery thus cared for; everything possible is being done to relieve their present pain. Special silk-lined gloves, for instance, are supplied by the Section for the men's burned hands, which are acutely sensitive until the new skin grows. Even cigarette-holders find their place in the hospital stores.

[photograph]
The education and amusement of blind P.o.W.s are helped by these devices.

Helping the Blind
Among the casualties in the present intensive fighting there must, inevitably, be cases of men blinded. When first captured these men are sometimes placed by the Germans, for the moment, in some hospital for general wounded where it is difficult for the Invalid Comforts Services to do much for them beyond helping them to start learning Braille and beginning rehabilitation and occupational therapy.
As soon, however, as they reach the Stalag IXB hospital they are in the company of their fellow-afflicted under expert and systematic care. Here at Bad Soden the Blind Centre was established earlier this year under the eye specialist, Major Charters, and to it have come all the resources that Red Cross and St. John can muster in the closest possible collaboration with St. Dunstan's.
Every member of the Centre becomes automatically a provisional member of St. Dunstan's and benefits accordingly from the well-tried methods and apparatus evolved by that world-famous organisation. He finds at the Centre rowing machines to exercise his body and talking books to amuse his mind. Gradually he learns Braille writing, typing and reading, and can take his choice in the well-stocked library; he may start training for a regular occupation, such as telephone operator, masseur, cobbler, or carpenter, to help to fit him for a self-respecting trade or profession on his return to civil life. He finds, in other words, the power to overcome his blindness.
(Continued at foot of next page.)

[photograph]
Some of the drugs, medicines and surgical instruments which are carefully selected before being dispatched to the camps.

[page break]

4 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

Greetings at Lisbon
WELFARE OFFICER TELLS OF THE WELCOME TO REPATRIATES
THE repatriation of 900 British civilian prisoners of war from Germany was arranged in exchange for an equal number of Germans from South Africa. The arrangements were made by the Foreign Office, which asked the Red Cross to provide two Welfare Officers. I was fortunate enough to be one of those chosen, and we were flown to Lisbon.
The repatriates came in two parties, the first train arriving on July 23rd, and were warmly welcomed by the British Community, headed by His Excellency Sir Ronald and Lady Campbell. Many people went along the carriages distributing cigarettes, and there was excitement when some Merchant Navy men appeared carrying bottles of beer on their heads which they bought with their own money.
Stretcher cases were the first to be removed from the train, and special permission was given to the Red Cross by the International Police to take sick persons direct to the ship. The other people were then allowed out of the train and taken to the Customs House, where they were allocated their cabins on the Swedish ship, “Drottningholm,” given forms to send free telegrams to England, food, drink, and a roll of newspapers and magazines each. Everyone had to wait there until 5.30 while the Germans were transferred from ship to train.
The second party did not arrive for ten days, so that arrangements were made to occupy the first party while they waited. Bathing parties, luncheons, cinema shows, shopping parties were organised. The weather was lovely and there were no rules and regulations! Everyone was free to do as he or she liked. 5s. a day was paid to each person – not riches, but useful while sightseeing. Clothing was provided for everyone in urgent need; letters, free of postage, could be sent, and a library and soft drink bar were opened.
As there were several ill persons, a sick bay was opened in the charge of English nurses, and it was wonderful how the patients improved with careful nursing.

Second Party Welcomed
The second party arrived on Tuesday, August 1st, and were given an equally good welcome. Amongst this party were 156 Benghazi Jews, who were left in Lisbon to be repatriated direct to North Africa.
We then thought we should be sailing for England at once. The Germans, however, demanded that fourteen named persons should be left behind as hostages for fourteen Germans who were being repatriated through Turkey and who had not arrived in Istanbul. As three of the named persons were ill, negotiations were opened with the Germans, who agreed that if three other people volunteered to stay behind, the sick could sail. Volunteers were easily found, and it was a dramatic moment to see the fourteen people leaving the ship at 3 a.m. Directly they had gone the ship sailed for England.
The first day was rough, and many passengers were seasick, but after that the weather was kind, and everyone enjoyed dancing, games, and the good food which was provided at all meals.
I gave a talk on conditions in England since 1939, which proved of such great interest to the passengers that it was repeated.

Home Again
On arriving in England special trains were provided, and those who had nowhere to go were accommodated in hostels until they could make plans of their own.
Everyone on the ship was most appreciative of the work which was done for them, while in camp, by the Red Cross, and particularly stressed that without the Red Cross Food Parcels it would have been difficult to exist.
It was a great pleasure to have this wonderful opportunity of bringing back to England such a large party of her citizens. It was most encouraging to see, even in the short time we spent with them, the enormous change in the repatriates, both physically and mentally, due to being free again, and the thought that they would once more be able to help their country.

Dispensing by Air Mail (contd.)
For the immediate necessities, then, of the burned, the blinded and the injured prisoners of all kinds. Invalid Comforts are thoroughly prepared; but the great bulk of the Section's work is devoted to patients later, more last support. Special medicines that cannot be dispensed from the supplies already sent to his hospital are provided at the request of the medical officer. Artificial arms or legs can be built to individual measurements from the components which have been sent out by the Section.
Similarly there are dental surgeries where dentures can be made for patients needing them from the equipment sent out from London.
If a prisoner's sight needs attending to, he can ask the qualified officer to prescribe the right lenses. In the last three months Invalid Comforts have had 421 optical prescriptions made up for prisoners, in addition to the many spectacles despatched on behalf of next of kin.

Personal Service
No service could well be more personal than these. In the records room at headquarters there are detailed medical records of some 30,000 men at the present moment, in the progress of each one of whom Invalid Comforts take a direct personal interest.
The needs of many others are covered adequately from the standard supplies issued to patients at the discretion of the medical officers without recourse to individual application – the energen biscuits for diabetics, for instance, of which 5,300 tins were sent out last year; the instruments for tubercular cases at Elsterhorst Hospital; and the carefully chosen Invalid Diet Supplement parcels of jellies, fruit juices and malted foods

Occupational Therapy
Many bedridden prisoners, too, have had cause to be grateful to the occupational therapy service for saving them from boredom, and helping them on the road to recovery. Most of the raw material for this work comes from such generous bodies as the Women's Institutes, and finds its way back to Britain astonishingly transformed into rugs, patchwork and elaborate embroidery by fingers that may previously never have held a needle.
Help in maintaining the handicrafts side has lately been given by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, who are able to supply large quantities of three-ply wood as well as perspex, the glass-like plastic used in pilots' cockpits and an attractive medium for modelling.
Some 32,000 pieces of occupational therapy work went to the camps last year, and we can be reasonably certain that there are still ample reserves for the convalescent.

[photograph]
Hearing aids have been sent to some of the camps in Germany.

[page break]

September, 1944 The Prisoner of War 5

The Letters They Write Home

[photograph]
Varied costumes were worn in a revue produced recently at Stalag XVIIIA.

“We Shall Return . . .”
Stalag IVF. 10.6.44.
WE have heard the news for which we have waited for four long years.
When in the dark days of 1940 we stood with our backs to the wall, with only a small badly equipped Army and Air Force, things certainly looked black. Then Churchill said, “We shall return.” And he's done it.
It must be a great day for Mr. Churchill, and we might well say “Heil Churchill!” now.
What a day for the British Army too; it has proved it can do it when properly equipped. How we all wish we could have been in it. What a treat to advance instead of fighting hopeless rear-guard actions.
Well, it really can't be long now, and I may get home before this letter. Who knows?
Nothing can get us down now.

Model Yacht
Oflag 79. 11.5.44.
YACHT design is a fascinating game you know. I've become quite an authority on the subject during the last two years – but up to the last six weeks or so it was impossible to test my ideas.
As we had a perfectly good swimming bath at the old camp we decided that we would build a model and sail it.
I got out a set of lines – applied all the theories – metacentric shelf, immersed wedges, etc., balanced the sail plan according to all the rules. She was perfectly balanced on all points of sailing and went to windward like a witch. I was no end bucked.

Woodcutting Party
Oflag IXA/Z. 21.5.44.
I SAID I would tell you about the woodcutting party. There were five potential woodcutters and two artists. Breakfast was at 7.15a.m., and we left the camp at 8. It was a glorious sunny day, and the six kilometre walk in the early morning freshness was very enjoyable although it was mostly uphill! Our first task was to collect firewood so that our “elevenses” could be got ready. We sawed up several trees and man-handled the logs to a stack. Of course, this was not accomplished without the very necessary stops for snacks, meals, coffee, etc. – very “hunger-making” work!
We were right in the heart of the woods, miles from anywhere, and except for the occasional song of a chaffinch peace reigned throughout. What a treat it was to get away from the camp and the crowds. Lunch consisted of fried meat roll and bacon, fried bread, biscuits, cheese, bread, margarine, honey and tea.

[inserted]PICTURES AND LETTERS
TEN SHILLINGS will be awarded each month to the senders of the first three letters from prisoners of war to be printed. Copies instead of the originals are requested, and whenever possible these should be set out on a separate sheet of paper, showing the DATES on which they were written. The Editor welcomes for other pages of the journal any recent NEWS relating to prisoners of war.
Ten Shillings will also be awarded for photographs reproduced across two columns, and five shillings for those under two. Photographs should be distinct, and any information as to when they were taken is helpful.
Address: Editor, “The Prisoner of War,” St. James's Palace, London, S.W.1. The cost of these prizes and fees is defrayed by a generous friend of the Red Cross and St. John War Organisation. [/inserted]

Variety Here
Stalag IVB. 17.5.44.
WE are still going strong with our wrestling classes and we hope to put on a show in the near future.
The other week we received some musical instruments from the Red Cross and our hut got a mandoline-banjo. [sic] You can guess the row the others put up with from me.
Our hut concert went down well – much better than we expected. We get some tip-top shows on in our theatre. At the moment there is a play, [italics] Dover Road, [/italics] running in the evenings, and a Dutch band in the afternoons. It takes about ten days for the whole camp to see a show, and the theatre is booked up weeks ahead.

“Civvy Street” – Almost
Stalag XIA. 7.5.44.
MY ways are more or less in keeping with “civvy street.” We work each day and spend the evenings either sitting around the fire yarning or sometimes, usually Saturdays, there is a “sing-song.” Sometimes on Sunday afternoons the German sentries take us to the village football ground.

Five Men in a Room
Stalag 344. 2.6.44.
THIS camp was rather overcrowded some while back, but it is not too bad now, five of us live in a room of our own with single beds, much better than the three-tier arrangement.
I am kept busy round the camp, quite happy tinkering about – carpentering, cooking, etc. They have not persuaded me to do any gardening yet; that never was much my line, but taking things all round I am doing pretty well as a P.o.W., so there is no need to worry about me.
I am getting quite brown as we have had some lovely sun this last week.

Walking in the Country
Stalag 344. 4.6.44.
TO-DAY was the turn of ten of us to go for a walk – not alone, of course. It was to me at least really wonderful to walk in the country again – a fresh breeze blowing, everything green, and the apple and lilac blossoms out. How much have I thought of our walks together.

Camp Cup Favourite
Stalag IVB. 17.5.44.
OUR team is favourite for the Camp Cup, which will be presented by the [italics] Observer [/italics] newspaper to winners of the knock-out. We won our first match last

[page break]

6 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

[photograph]
COME AND BUY!
Smiling faces as the exchange market opens at Stalag 383.

week and we play again tomorrow. We also have bookies.
There are 32 teams in for the cup. Some of them are 50 and 100 to 1; but our team is 6 to 4. Our team has white jerseys with a blue V on them and white shorts with a blue stripe down the sides. I wear my own shorts and they are great. When we play there are usually about two to three thousand Army and Air Force spectators.

Their Boxing Ring
Stalag IVB. 17.5.44.
TO-DAY the lads have made a boxing ring out of odd bits of timber. You'd be surprised at the things that have been made out of tins, wood and paper.
Nearly all the soccer teams have managed to make jerseys out of vests, and made them the colours of the “civvy” team they represent with the aid of dye and paint.
They run dog and horse racing, using dice, and giving the runners numbers, then they move forwards on squares. Bets are in cigarettes and everybody gets excited.

New Camp
Stalag 357. 12.7.44.
THIS camp is quite new; they started building it last March. It is the largest one I've been to so far. There are over 3,000 men here, and I am with men who have been captured since the days of France; some have only been prisoners three or four months. It is very interesting hearing from these lads about the events that have happened in the last four years.

[photograph]
A barrel of wine arriving at the civilian internment camp, Saint Denis.

“Bird-Life”
Stalag IVB. 22.7.44.
DESPITE the heat, sport is continuing, and on May 31st the South Africans celebrated the formation of the Union of S.A. with a very fine sports day, opening with a march past. The British M.O. followed with a P.T. display and then races and high jump. In the afternoon the South Africans drew at soccer with Wales, and then beat the rest at rugby in a hard-fought game by 9 points to nil.
This match was preceded by a Zulu pageant. It was an amazing and humorous sight, most realistic, as all the performers were covered in black grease-paint and dressed as, per Zulu pattern. Naturally enough, the Germans were busy with cameras.
You probably know that we have a stadium, etc., and have horses as we had a race meeting on Whit-Monday with wooden horse and dice.
We are in the midst of some glorious weather, and being in the middle of some interesting country, we have seen quite a lot of “bird-life” during the fine period.

Spit and Polish
Stalag VIIIB. 5.6.44.
RECEIVED my parcel yesterday containing all I really need, also 1,500 cigarettes, all in one week. To-day has been a field day – washed and pressed my suit, spit and polished my boots, made myself quite decent again. All I need now is my hat badge.
You see they are mostly Australians and New Zealanders in this hut, so must keep up the standard of the Grenadier Guards. I have got one of each of them spitting and polishing their boots already.

. . . In Better Times
Stalag 398. 29.5.44.
EVERYTHING looks beautiful here. The pale green of the beech trees and the dark of the conifers on the mountains are a picture. There are endless flowers in the woods and the meadows – buttercups, daisies, crocuses, anemones, lily of the valley, and dozens which are new to me and others whose names I’ve forgotten. Wild strawberry and bilberry are in bloom everywhere, and amongst all the blue lakes, waterfalls and torrents. Yes, I must come here again in better times.

Peat Cutting
Stalag XXA (176). 19.7.44.
I AM still on the same farm, been here since March, 1942. Do most of the repair work here – building, painting, roofs, tractor driving and maintenance, besides wagon repairs etc.
Weather is glorious, bags of work, too. We are at present peat cutting, but around the twentieth of next month start harvesting again. Hope it is the last.
Mail takes a little longer now there is no air service, but as long as we get a letter now and again we don't mind much.

[photograph]
Prisoners of war who escaped from Italy in the hospital grounds at the Military Internment Camp, Turbenthal, Switzerland.

Musical Interlude
Marlag und Milag Nord (Marlag O). 12.6.44.
THE news has cheered us up and I begin to think again of home – the focal point of all my pre-war happiness. Did I ever tell you we made home-made

[page break]

September, 1944 The Prisoner of War 7

wine in Italy from grapes? It was excellent. Plenty of fruit and sunshine were the only redeeming features of that half-starved existence.
These days I am starting to study harmony and music arranging, so don't sell the piano! I'm “resting” a bit, theatrically, after the big cabaret-restaurant show, which shook the camp! Now pit music for the melodrama [italics] Murder in the Red Barn, [/italics] then a Shakespeare quintet for [italics] Merchant of Venice [/italics] on Sunday, then a big orchestra for [italics] Pirates of Penzance. [/italics]

Even a Red Indian
Stalag IVB. 12.4.44.
AT night we have concerts and lectures, and I must say the lectures are good. I have heard speaking: a professional boxer, undertaker, artist, a movie-tone cameraman and men from all of our colonies – even a big-game hunter from Africa. There are twenty different nationalities in our camp. We even had a Red Indian here.

Building Work
Stalag IVD. 22.5.44.
THE work we are doing here is not so bad; just at present we are helping to put a roof on a building, and we work 48 hours a week. There is a sports ground to the works and we are allowed to play football three times a week; last week we had the account of the game printed in the paper, and also had our photographs taken.
Taking it all round, we don't have too bad a time.

[photograph]
P.O.W.s at Stalag IVD choose a picturesque setting for their photograph.

Austria - Not England
Stalag 398. 11.6.44.
I HAVE had some beautiful walks lately and I have never seen so many flowers growing wild and in such profusion. I took particular notice of them yesterday and in an area of approximately 3 square yards counted the following species: carnations, lupins, moon daisies, scabious, red campions,and heaps of smaller varieties such as clover, buttercups, vetches, etc. If you can imagine field upon field of such beauty, with forest-clad hills in the near distance, and the huge, majestic, silent Danube flowing at your feet, then you have a very faint idea of the true natural beauty in which I am living at the moment. But this is Austria, not England! I would willingly exchange it for any slum in London, because there I should be truly free.

The Invasion
Oflag VIIB. 20.6.44.
EVERYONE is excited about the invasion. The news of it we get from the papers makes us feel more in a complete backwater, or perhaps “Dead Sea” would be a better term, than ever, and though it makes us more hopeful, it also disturbs us more!
The flute practice has gone steadily on, with no great improvement, but a good deal of enjoyment. I was playing in the cellar this afternoon, and a sweep appeared to do the flues, so I proceeded to tootle away in a cloud of soot with no very adverse effects! I've been to one recital of Bach's harpsichord pieces – most delightful. Otherwise the flute and some lectures.
A very interesting series of lectures has started on the story of various British industries between 1919 and 1939.
We have had a lot of rain recently which has interfered with the games, and I have only been able to manage one game of badminton and a tennis double.

[photograph]
ENJOYING THE SUNSHINE
A well-earned rest after strenuous work at Stalag XVIIIA.

Tea in Style
Stalag XVIIIA. 2.5.44.
FIVE weeks have passed since I last received mail from you. I'm not unduly worried as we have expected this for some time.
The weather is glorious; we had our tea in style outside with Sid and his band playing for us. To-day I worked till mid-day, then went sunbathing with my mates just alongside a running stream close to camp.

Camp Clubs
Stalag IVB. 2.6.44.
THEY have started clubs here and I am in the Notts and Derby Club. We have a meeting every week and ask about home news.
Being full-rank N.C.O.s we don't have to work, and we spend our time playing football and other games. Yes, we are keeping ourselves fit for when we get back. One of my parcels was packed in New Mills.

Baker's Birthday
Stalag XVIIIA Undated.
THIS is how I spent my birthday. I procured the necessary drinks; got off work early to do some baking; and made over 100 doughnuts and a filling of butter creams. For dinner we had poultry soup, baked potatoes, peas and poultry and tomato sauce. For tea fruit and custard and doughnuts.

[photograph]
Artistic handicrafts made by civilian internees at Ilag Biberach/Riss, Wurt.

[page break]

8 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

Official Reports from the Camps

[photograph]
Stalag Luft I
This is run as an officers' camp entirely for Air Force personnel.

[inserted] In every case where conditions call for remedy, the Protecting Power makes representations to the German authorities. Where there is any reason to doubt whether the Protecting Power has acted it is at once requested to do so. When it is reported that food or clothing is required, the necessary action is taken through the International Red Cross Committee. [/inserted]

STALAG LUFT III
There was little change in the camp since it was visited in February, 1944. There are still six separate compounds. The middle and south compounds contain American prisoners of war. The west compound is still not ready for occupation. The East, North and Belaria compounds are entirely British.
The total strength of the camp is 5,229; of these 2,500 are British officers, 198 British N.C.O.s, 185 British other ranks, 1,900 American officers, 299 American N.C.O.s, and 57 American other ranks.
Very little improvement has taken place in the interior arrangements of the camp. In the East compound 37 officers are compelled to sleep on the floor. The division of the large sleeping rooms in the Central compound into smaller ones has not yet taken place owing to a shortage of wood and labour. Conditions in the North compound are fairly satisfactory except for leaking roofs, which the German authorities have promised to repair in the near future.
Washing and bathing facilities are satisfactory throughout the camps with the exception of the South compound where there are still no bathing facilities; men in this compound have to go to the West compound for baths and showers.
There has been considerable improvement in the patients in the two hospitals (one in the East compound and the other in the North compound). Many have received specialist treatment in the last few months. The drug position is still rather unsatisfactory. The beds in the sick quarters attached to the Centre compound were stated to be unsuitable for patients. The prisoners are to be allowed to make string supports and to restuff [sic] the mattresses with Red Cross packing materials.
Recreational and sports facilities in all camps are excellent. The sports ground in the East compound is not as extensive as in the other compounds.
The general feeling in this camp shows a considerable nervous tension following the recent mass attempts at escape and the deaths of many of the officers concerned.
The Balaria compound is situated five kilometres from the main camp. The bathing and washing and sports facilities here are unsatisfactory.
Another visit to Stalag Luft III will be arranged as soon as possible.
(Visited April, 1944.)

DULAG LUFT, WETZLAR KLOSTERWALD
This has been transferred from Frankfurt to a slightly elevated position north of Frankfurt. It was formerly a German Army camp and it is at present under reconstruction. It will be ready for occupation in three weeks, but in the meantime airmen arriving in this camp are accommodated in 18 tents in a large compound on the Eastern side of the camp area. Three of the tents are reserved for the permanent camp staff, seven for officers, seven for other ranks, and one as a sick quarters. The proper camp when completed should be adequate.
The tents allow accommodation for 318 men, and the new camp will hold 540 prisoners. On the day of the visit there were 10 British officers, 28 British other ranks, 37 American officers, and 46 American other ranks.
The men who form the permanent staff sleep on iron single beds with straw sack and three blankets. Officers and other ranks in transit sleep on the ground on sacks filled with wood shavings, 20 men in each tent.
A recreation room and dining room adjoins the cookhouse; it contains sufficient tables and forms.
When entering the camp the prisoners have a hot shower in the German guards' washroom. Daily washing is with cold water.
Excellent medical attention is given by a German doctor.
There were no serious complaints about the camp. As it is a transit camp the men seldom stay for longer than eight days. (Visited May, 1944.)

STALAG LUFT I
BARTH
This camp, which used to house N.C.O.s, is now entirely run as an Oflag (Officers' Camp) for Air Force personnel. Since it was last visited the strength has increased from 797, including 318 officers, to 3,464. All prisoners are British or American and they are accommodated in the same compounds.
The camp now consists of a North compound holding 1,242 prisoners, which has a large barrack still under construction, a South-west compound holding 1,100 prisoners, and a new compound holding 1,084 prisoners. All compounds open into each other during the daytime.

[photograph]
Cricket team at Civilian Internment Camp, St. Denis. Temporary lack of common rooms make indoor entertainments difficult here.

[page break]

September, 1944 The prisoner of War 9

[photograph]
Dulag Luft
A walk through the woods which surround this camp north of Frankfurt.

The capacity of the camp on the day of the visit was 3,000, the actual number of prisoners of war in the camp was 3,464 (597 British and 2,867 American), which resulted in bad overcrowding in all barracks. The North compound is, however, to be enlarged and in an emergency situation tents could be erected to accommodate a total of 5,000 men.
Whitewashing is badly needed in the South compound. A number of new barracks are not weatherproof, the roofs are leaking and are continuously repaired. Lighting and ventilation are inadequate throughout the camp.
Bedding is sufficient and beds are triple-tiered.
The food ration is felt to be insufficient and of poor quality. Only one hot meal a day is served. There is a lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet. The supply of Red Cross food is abundant.
Medical or dental treatment is given by two British medical officers under the supervision of a German doctor. The sick quarters are far too small for the increasing number of prisoners of war. The commandant promised, that it would be enlarged within five weeks. The senior British medical officer stated that although the camp was overcrowded, the general state of health was good, probably owing to the fact that the air from the nearby sea is so healthy.
The clothing position is satisfactory.
Religious activities are well organised. Educational activities have been discontinued owing to the lack of room.
The sports field in the compounds is large enough for any kind of outdoor games. The canteen supply is so small as to be considered practically nil.
Most of the deficiencies in this camp are the result of overcrowding. (Visited April, 1944.)

[photograph]
STALAG LUFT I. Five prisoners enjoy refreshments – a luxury at this camp where canteen supplies are very small.

STALAG VIIIA, GORLITZ
The situation of Stalag VIIIA is in the open country a few miles from Gorlitz. The camp consists of large, well-built brick barracks which are already rather old.
There are 1,056 British prisoners of war in the main camp and 2,082 British prisoners of war in the 41 work detachments dependent on the Stalag.
Interior arrangements in this camp are satisfactory.
The water supply for bathing and washing has been most unsatisfactory and was only turned on for half an hour daily. The pipes are, however, under repair and should by now supply all the necessary water.
On the day of the visit there were 20 patients in the sick room, 80 in the convalescent barracks, and 19 in the lazaret. No serious cases were reported. Medical attention is adequate. Dental treatment is fairly good, but there is a shortage of material for making artificial dentures.
A Church of England chaplain holds regular services in the camp; so far he has been unable to visit the work detachments.
Recreation and exercise are reported to be satisfactory.
No complaints were made regarding the letter mail, but several prisoners complained about the non-arrival of private parcels from home. (Visited April, 1944.)

STALAG VIIIC KUNAU
Stalag VIIIC is situated just outside the small town of Kunau near large pine woods, in a healthy district.
The total number of British prisoners of war in the main camp is 543 and 1,128 are in 19 work detachments.
All the prisoners in the main camp are accommodated in three brick one-storey barracks of the usual type, plus outhouses. Lighting has been improved considerably. Washing and toilet facilities are adequate.
The camp hospital and sick quarters contained 45 patients who were under the care of a Naval doctor and two British medical orderlies. None of the cases was serious. The drug position has improved and there is now a considerable supply of necessary medicines. Dental treatment is satisfactory.
Clothing and footwear is in good condition.
Indoor recreation and entertainments are well organised, but lately opportunities for playing football outside the compound has been greatly reduced owing to a lack of guards.
Regular church services are held in the camp theatre by a Church of Scotland chaplain. He has so far been unable to visit the work detachments.
The only complaint about the mail concerned to delay in the censoring of letters in the Stalag. Many letters which have been forwarded from Italy are still waiting to be sorted. (Visited April, 1944.)

(1) LUFTWAFFEN HOSPITAL, 4/ [indecipherable] (WISMAR), visited April, 1944. (2) HOSPITAL AT REGENSBURG, visited March, 1944. (3) KRIEGEFANGENEN HOSPITAL, STALAG IIA, NEUBRAN DENBURG, visited April, 1944.

These three large hospitals hold prisoner of war patients of all nationalities. At the time of the visits there were only two or three British in each.
All three hospitals are modern, clean, well equipped and well run.
Food is sufficient, special diets being

[page break]

10 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

given where necessary. Regular Red Cross food parcels are received.
Books and games are sent from the nearest Stalag.

HOSPITAL AT BAD SODEN
SALMUENSTER
The hospital is situated on a hillside facing south in the small spa of Soden. The building is satisfactory as it was built for a sanatorium.
Since November, 1943, it has become the centre for ophthalmic treatment of British and American prisoners of war.
There are two British medical officers, one of them an eye specialist, working under a German physician. Six British medical orderlies look after the patients.
Forty-three of the 103 patients are British, the rest are Poles, French, Serbs, Italians and Russians.
A Braille school has been established in a special room of the hospital. The two teachers have everything that is necessary for their work.
A Church of England chaplain from Oflag IXA/Z visits the patients each month.
The food question is good. Three diets are available for the prisoners, also Red Cross food parcels are distributed.
The general impression of the hospital is excellent. (Visited April, 1944.)

CIVILIAN INTERNMENT CAMPS
St. Denis
(Front Stalag 122)
Since the date of the last report on this civilian internment camp (see issue for April, 1944. page 6) the accommodation has been overcrowded owing to the arrival of 350 British subjects from the South of France at about the end of February. The common rooms, with the exception of the school and theatre, have been turned into sleeping quarters. It is hoped, however, that it will soon be possible to transfer some internees to a new branch camp.
The bathing and washing facilities are stated to be still adequate. Food and cooking are very satisfactory, the internees have a special kitchen with a large stove at their disposal on every floor of the building. Medical attention is satisfactory and the state of health is still good. The camp canteen is well stocked, and profits from sales are used for the welfare of the internees.
The momentary lack of common rooms makes it difficult to organise as many entertainments as usual, but twice a month there is a cinema show. The cinema equipment was bought out of the profits from the canteen fund. Weekly trips by motor coach outside Paris have been continued, an arrangement which gives the internees great satisfaction.
The incoming mail from England is said to be normal and regular, taking on an average about three weeks to arrive.
The delegate of the Protecting Power is still satisfied that conditions in this camp are, in general, satisfactory and treatment is fair.
Last visited by the Protecting Power on the 9th March, 1944.

Nag Dongelberg (Belgium)
Since the date of the last report on this civilian internment camp (see issue for April, 1944. page 6) there have been no great changes. There are at present 56 British internees at Dongelberg.
Conditions at the camp continue to be very satisfactory. The internees have been receiving the same food rations as the German civilian population since the beginning of March. Last Christmas a sheep was presented to the internees as a gift and recently two pigs which they had been allowed to keep were killed. There is a stock of Red Cross parcels.
The position as regards clothing is satisfactory. Early in March a supply arrived as a gift from the Red Cross, including some much-needed shoe leather.
The camp is now under the direction of the German Red Cross delegate, Frau Brueckann.
The German authorities recently published an order forbidding any kind of leave until further notice. As compensation for this restriction internees are taken for a walk to the small neighbouring town of Jodoigne every month.
No complaints were made by the internees to the delegate of the Protecting Power when the camp, which is stated to be one of the best, was last visited on 4th of April, 1944.

[photograph]
Vittel
Pause for a cooling drink during sports day for children.

Biberach
Since the date of the last visit to this camp made by the Protecting Power on 28th January visits have been made by the International Red Cross Committee's delegates on 28th March and by the Protecting Power on 2nd June.
There are still about 1,170 internees at Biberach. The accommodation in huts is in a good condition, having been kept in repair. During the winter heating was adequate. Food rations of potatoes and meat were reported to have been decreased, but the fish ration was increased.
The situation as regards clothes is good, although there is still a shortage of shoe repairing material. Health and general medical and dental treatment are satisfactory. Some losses of individual parcels were noticed in May.
The camp library constantly receives new books. Numerous indoor and outdoor games are provided. There is a good school which is adequately accommodated and has a staff of eight teachers.
Material conditions at this camp are not unsatisfactory, especially in the spring and summer seasons.
Last visited by the Protecting Power on 2nd June, 1944.

Vittel (France)
Since the date of the last report on this civilian camp (see issue for April, 1944, page 6) there have been no great changes. At the time of the last visit there were 1,800 British internees, and two more large hotel may be taken over as the camp is now full.
The general state of health is good, although there are a certain number of nervous cases among the older women, due to the length of time they have been interned.
The clothing situation is becoming a little difficult, especially as regards women's clothes. The food position is satisfactory and the vegetable garden has been extended.
Letters from England take about one month to reach the camp.
The camp was last visited by the delegate of the Protecting Power on the 14th and 15th of March, 1944, when no complaints were made by the internees, and by the International Red Cross delegate on the 23rd June.

CAMP LIST
Information has been received that prisoners at Stalag XXID at Posen, Poland, and Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug, have been moved to other camps. Letters have come from them from Stalags 344, VIIIB, Stalg 357, at Thorn, and Stalag Luft IV, at Tychow.
The camp previously called Stalag Luft IV, at Belaria (map square F5) now forms part of Stalag Luft III. The name Stalag Luft IV has been given to the camp at Tychow (map square G3) mentioned above.

[page break]

September, 1944 The Prisoner of War 11

Groups from the [underlined] Camps [/underlined]

[photograph]
STALAG XVIIIA

[photograph]
STALAG IVD

[photograph]
STALAG 383

[photograph]
STALAG XXIA

[photograph]
MARLAG UND MILAG NORD

[photograph]
ILAG VII

[photograph]
STALAG IXC

[photograph]
B.A.B. 21

[page break]

12 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

The Brighter Side

[sketch]
A popular camp [indecipherable word] !
LIFE AT OFLAG VIIB shown in a drawing by one of the officer prisoners there.

UNDER a hot sun and a cloudless sky the men of Stalag 344 were rewarded on Whit-Monday for all the industrious preparations they had made for the day's programme. Nothing quite so ambitious had ever been attempted before, and their many letters home about it (“it's something I shall remember for many years to come,” is a typical comment) leave no doubt of its unqualified success. The morning started with a carnival procession round the main roads of the camp, headed by the military band and consisting of elaborate tableaux enacted by men in various costumes made from an even greater variety of material – paper, cardboard, towels, tin – anything that could be fashioned to their purpose. Thus arrayed on hand-drawn carts came a dramatised [italics] Tale of Two Cities, Antony and Cleopatra, [/italics] and the Pearly King himself . . .
The prizes, we hear, went to the South Africans for their realistic group of dancing Zulu warriors, and to the R.A.F.'s impressive entry of a model Lancaster bomber, followed by complete bomber crews representing America and every country in the Commonwealth.

Fun of the Fair
While the sporting events proceeded in the afternoon brisk business was being done in the stalls and side-shows of a fair in another part of the ground – with skittles, darts, “coconut” shies and, of course, the tattooed lady. “It meant a tremendous amount of work, but it was worth it,” writes one of the stall-keepers, who points out that the fair's total takings of 61,000 cigarettes and 4,000 P.o.W. marks have been given respectively to the camp's Comforts Fund for hospital patients and new prisoners and to the Welfare Fund for medical and musical needs.

Two Birthdays
With the Whitsun hilarities scarcely over, one man in Stalag 344 had to set about preparing for another celebration – his birthday. A great cake was the outcome, iced with whipped-up butter and milk powder, and made perhaps of ground biscuit and raisins. Those at any rate were the ingredients favoured by a young flight lieutenant in another camp for his birthday – his third in captivity and a quiet one, he says, although it luckily coincided with an excellent production of [italics] Philadelphia Story [/italics] in the camp theatre by an all-Canadian cast.

Green Thoughts
“Whatever sport, subject or other pursuit you care to mention I am convinced,” an inmate of Oflag VIIIF writes home to Scotland, “that you could find a first-class exponent of it in this camp.” But after supper nowadays, though free for theatre, music, reading, chess or a leisurely stroll round the camp, “I cannot help thinking that the peaceful summer evenings are ideal for golf” – and for that pursuit, of course, there would be little use in finding an expert on the premises. The nine-hole course laid out at Stalag IVB is a prison camp feature as rare as it is popular, though most players there admit that the wooden golf balls “take some getting used to.”

Alias Barmaid
Playing the middle-aged barmaid in a public house “is not exactly in my line,” confesses a Royal Artillery lieutenant in Oflag VA, now busy on the stage. “I was a bit nervous at first, but I'm used to it now – you should see me pulling the handle behind the bar. It takes me half an hour to get made up, and then I look like a cross between Nellie Wallace and the Widow Twankey.” During the day he compensates for these nightly performances by playing strenuous outdoor games.

Red-letter Field Days
While rugger affairs preoccupied Oflag VA at the time of the camp's International match, when Britain beat New Zealand by 11-8 (“the wettest June in history,” comments somebody, “made the conditions ideal”), the talk at Stalag IVB centred on soccer. League football there was getting ready for the cup competition, and with thirty-two teams in for it, each representing a barracks of about 170 men – many of them peace-time professionals – the enthusiasm ran as high as the standard of play. The eventual winners were entertained afterwards to a mammoth tea party and a concert held most deservedly in their honour.

Birds in Hand
Pets, too, are popular at Stalag IVB. In addition to some puppies, whose antics seem to be causing a lot of amusement, a few wild birds have now settled down here to a pampered domestic life. “We have nine of them,” writes a bombardier who forgets to mention their sort or size. “They have been kept by us since they were five days old and have become extraordinarily tame. They are fed by hand; can be picked up and scrubbed with a toothbrush; will perch on your arm or shoulder whenever they feel like it; and after flying off for an hour or so will always return. But,” he adds pessimistically, “they'll probably finish by trying to play with the cat.”

[cartoon] Birthday Greetings from Stalag Luft I. FIVE huh?
This birthday card was sent home by an R.A.F. sergeant to celebrate his small son's fifth birthday.

[inserted] The paragraphs on these pages are based on letters from prisoners of war. Most of them refer to activities in the big base camps and it should not be assumed that they are typical of conditions in all camps or in outlying working detachments where facilities for sport and amusement are much more restricted. [/inserted]

[page break]

September, 1944 The Prisoner of War 13

“SEND US BOOKS . . . .!”
How This Call Has Been Answered by the Indoor Recreations Section, Now on the Eve of its Fourth Anniversary

[photograph]
Games of all kinds are packed here.

[photograph]
The Section keeps in close touch with prisoners' needs by letters to relatives and camp leaders.
Lee Miller by courtesy of “Vogue.”

FROM the beginning it was apparent that libraries containing books of every category, indoor games, music, plays and materials for dramatic performances were a paramount necessity for the welfare of prisoners, once the vital needs of food and clothing had been provided.
It was decided that the main work of the Indoor Recreations Section of the Prisoners of War Department at St. James's Palace, should be to supply these needs for the use of the camps as a whole, rather than to individual prisoners – which service developed later. Consequently all parcels in the early months were addressed to Camp Leaders to enable them to start building up libraries, and to develop recreational facilities.

Books of All Kinds
Already the work of the Educational Books Section had been in existence for some months, but letters from prisoners containing such words as “Books are food and drink to me” made it clear that educational books must be supplemented by a carefully selected supply of fiction ranging from the classics to the latest detective and Wild Western novels, travel, biography, art, etc.
Requests began to pour in from camp leaders for books dealing with English country life, for plays to perform in the camps and for theatrical make-up and artists materials. Through the long and fluctuating fortunes of the war, these requests have steadily increased. It is difficult to recapture the atmosphere of the early days of the Section's foundation in September, 1940, and to believe that so much could have grown out of a beginning beset with so many obstacles.

First Parcels Go Out
At the end of 1940 when a permit was obtained, the Indoor Recreations Section was able to supplement parcels of books ordered by them but despatched from booksellers. All these consignments bore Red Cross labels, and were addressed to the Camp Leaders. Each parcel contained on an average 10 books, selected with the greatest care, so as to include reading matter of the widest possible variety. It will easily be imagined with what impatience the return of the acknowledgement cards included in every parcel was awaited.

Music Begins
The next adventure for the Section was to purchase and send musical instruments. In the early months of 1941, ten complete orchestras consisting of fourteen instruments, selected by the experts of the Services Musical Instrument Fund were despatched to the larger camps in Germany.
Gifts of second-hand music began to pour in to the Indoor Recreations Section as the result of next of kin and friends receiving constant requests from prisoners for music of all kinds – especially dance orchestration, light orchestral arrangements, and vocal scores and libretti of operettas and musical comedies. In addition the Section began to purchase music on a large scale. A special staff of workers was gathered together to deal with this very important expansion.
The service to individual prisoners of forwarding instruments either belonging to the prisoner himself, or procured on behalf of the next of kin, had been begun early in 1941.

Reserve at Geneva
Book parcels addressed to the Camp Leaders direct were taking a long time to reach their destination. To create an additional source of supply, arrangements were made with the Intellectual Relief Section of the I.R.C.C. to store a reserve of books. These could be distributed immediately to any new camp to form a basis for the Library, which would then be supplemented by books sent direct from this country.
Tribute should be paid to the wonderful work of the I.R.C.C. who immediately consented to take charge of this suggested reserve, and who have since that date looked after its storage and distribution with the greatest care and attention.
Out thanks are also due to the World's Alliance of the Y.M.C.A., who now took charge of the distribution of the indoor games and music addressed to Camp Leaders for the benefit of the camp as a whole – The I.R.C.C. retaining the distribution of any instruments addressed to individual prisoners of war.
By the autumn of 1941 the Section at least knew that most of the camps then in existence in Germany possessed the foundations of very good libraries.
During 1942 and 1943 the chief work of the Indoor Recreations Section was to supply camps in Italy. This was not achieved without difficulty. In fact, it was only just before the transfer of British prisoners to Germany in the summer of 1942 that adequate supplies of books, indoor games, and musical instruments were reaching Italy.

Difficulties in London
During this time supplies in this country were becoming more restricted. Book production was cut to a minimum, after millions of volumes had been destroyed by fire in the 1941 air raids. The manufacture of musical instruments and indoor games had also been much reduced. Private individuals could no longer send out these articles through permit holders, and it fell to the Indoor Recreations Section to make special arrangements for supplies to be made available for prisoners of war.
An allocation of games was obtained from N.A.A.F.I. and the shortage of musical instruments was gradually overcome by means of special appeals for second-hand musical instruments and by a system of regular quotas from manufacturers. A generous gift of musical instruments made by the Junior Branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society reached Geneva at the most timely moment – November, 1943 – when the new camps in Germany for men transferred from Italy were in urgent need of musical equipment.
At this moment, when the normal
(Continued overleaf.)

[page break]

14 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

How They Help
In addition to those mentioned below, we wish to thank the many kind readers whose help to the Funds this month we cannot find room to record here individually.

WORKERS in a factory at Aycliffe, Co. Durham, have distinguished themselves this month by their magnificent response to a Red Cross Week. In addition to providing 3,000 pints of their blood for the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, they more than doubled the Week's money target by contributing to the Fund a total of £6,100.
The fine weather of August Bank Holiday helped organisers of many garden fêtes throughout the country to raise bumper contributions for the Fund as well as give holiday-makers an enjoyable afternoon. In the grounds of Dunster Castle, Somerset, for instance, about £1,200 was taken, an amount equal to approximately £1 14s. per head of Dunster village's population. Among many ingenious prize competitions at Whitley Manor, Surrey, was one for “the man with the worst footwear.” Well over 3,000 people visited this fête, at which speeches were made by Gen. Sir Walter Kirke, Sir John Jarvis, M.P. for Guildford, Col. Tristram Harper, county director of Surrey Red Cross and St. John, and Mrs. Horton, the local chairman. The Fund will benefit by over £650.
Home Guards took command of the many games and side-shows at the sale organised by Mrs. A.J. Mann for the village of Avoch, Ross-shire, a few days earlier. The dance that followed in the evening had the triple advantage of good music, good food and good local transport, and the day closed with the Fund £800 to the good.

[photograph]

Highlight of the successful sale in Kingsdown, Kent, was a model destroyer which sold for £18 5s. and raised the day's total of £45. The model (illustrated above) was constructed by the sister of Mrs. Arnold, one of the industrious members of the St. Michael's Branch Mothers' Union, who organised the event.
There are about 460 people in the Devon villages of Exbourne and Jacobstowe, and in the course of their recent Victory Gardens Week of games, sales and concerts, they provided the Fund with a few shillings over £460. A similar week at Montacute, Somerset, brought in a very welcome £120.
Whist drives continue to be a favourite medium of helping the Fund. The £14 proceeds of one held by Mr. J. C. Glendinning brings to £165 6s. 6d. the total sum collected by him in Bampton, Cumberland. Mrs. Dixon and two friends have raised £8 10s. at Earby-via-Colne, Lancashire; while in Hertfordshire the people of Much Hadham have supported Mrs. Petts' effort to the extent of £5 17s.
By producing a “Gang Show” for public entertainment, the seven enterprising members of the 1st Horley (Surrey) Boy Scouts' Bulldog Patrol have been able to present the Fund with £10. At Northleach, two brothers, Geoffrey and Raymond Powell, have achieved the very creditable sum of £13 10s. from a dance they ran together; and a small concert at Clifton, Bedfordshire, has brought the Fund 8s. from Jean Sunderland and her three young fellow-organisers.
We are glad to acknowledge, too, the generosity of four Bedfordshire repatriates who have sent us donations amounting to £40 in appreciation of past services.

SEND US BOOKS . . .!
(Continued from previous page)
supplies of recreational facilities have had to be temporarily suspended, another consignment of musical instruments, presented by the Junior Branch of the Canadian Red Cross, is expected at any moment to reach Geneva. News has also come that a third large consignment of instruments, in this instance the kind gift of the British Community Council in the Argentine, has already arrived at Geneva and is being distributed.

Impressive Figures
Up to date almost 100 orchestras of various types have been distributed to prisoner of war camps, and in addition to this about 14,000 musical instruments have been sent to camps and to individual prisoners of war.
The number of books despatched direct to camps since the inception of the Indoor Recreations Section is to-day 153,547, while 71,000 have been sent to the reserve at Geneva, making a total of 224,547 books. The number of music and games parcels sent from this country amounts to 21,655. Large supplies of music and artists' materials are also held in reserve at Geneva.
Meanwhile the service to next of kin which has led to 16,616 letters being written will be continued.

EXAM. RESULTS
List Now Ready
A LIST of examination results for the period January to June, 1944, has been prepared by the Educational Books Section and will be sent to next of kin or any others interested. Applications should be made to: The Director, Educational Books Section, The New Bodleian, Oxford.
Where possible, 3d. in stamps should be enclosed to cover postage.
Some copies of the list for July – December, 1943, still remain, and can be had on application.

News of Examinations
Legal history has been made by Capt. J. C. Dennistoun-Sword, Gordon Highlanders, who has completed his Bar Final Examinations whilst a prisoner of war, and was called to the Bar in his absence, his wife acting as proxy. Mrs. Dennistoun-Sword took her husband's place at the calling ceremony, was presented to the Treasurer, and lunched with the newly called barristers.
Capt. Dennistoun-Sword completed Part I of the Bar Final in 1942, and took Part II in 1943, obtaining a Second Class on each occasion. The necessary books for his studies were sent out through the Educational Books Section, the New Bodleian, Oxford, through which all arrangements for the Examination of the Council of Legal Education to be held in this camp were made.

SEAMEN PRISONERS
Better Allowances for Large Families
AN increase is announced in the minimum allowance paid to the families of merchant seamen in the hands of the enemy.
The new minimum, which takes effect from June 1st this year, is in accordance with the rates now established for the dependants of dead or missing seamen. It will ensure that exceptionally large families will now be adequately provided for – a provision that was not always proved possible under the arrangements formerly in operation.
Under the Government's revised plans, in the cases in which this new minimum payment is made – the arrangement for payment of contributions to the Merchant Navy Officers' Pension Fund, or a private Pension Scheme, of which the seaman is a member, and of pocket money at the prison camp as well as the reservation of a small balance for payment to the seaman on his return home, will be continued, but without any charge to the seaman or his dependants.

[page break]

September, 1944 The Prisoner of War 15

Sleeveless Pullover
FOR COLDER DAYS

[photograph]
By Courtesy of Copleys
Worked in a ribbed stitch with 4-ply wool

[knitting pattern and instructions]
(Continued overleaf)

[page break]

16 The Prisoner of War September, 1944

PARCELS
DELAY IN DELIVERY
STEPS have been taken to explain to all British Camp Leaders that individually addressed parcels (both next of kin and permit), handed to the Post Office up to the beginning of March, 1944, should reach the camp normally; but that owing to a variety of circumstances there is likely to be a very considerable delay in the delivery of parcels handed in after that date.

Recreations and Sports Equipment
In view of the transport difficulties referred to by the Postmaster-General, it is no longer possible for this department to forward musical instruments, music, indoor games, artists' materials, theatrical make-up, exercise books etc., to individual prisoners of war.
Articles already sent in for forwarding will be returned to the senders if desired. Correspondence with regard to the above should be addressed to the Indoor Recreations Section, Prisoners of War Department, St. James's Palace, S.W.1.
The same conditions apply to equipment for outdoor sports, correspondence about which should be addressed to the department, and marked “For the attention of Mr. A. F. Cox.”

Transit Camps
Red Cross food parcels will, as far as possible, be sent by the International Red Cross Committee to any camps in which there are British prisoners of war.

PENGUIN BOOKS
The Penguin Book Co. regrets that is has had to cancel its service of new Penguin books to prisoners of war. The despatch of further parcels has, therefore, ceased, and any unexpired subscriptions will be returned to next of kin through booksellers.

SLEEVELESS PULLOVER
(Continued from previous page)
[knitting pattern and instructions]

[inserted] Please be sure to mention your Red Cross reference number whenever you write to us. Otherwise delay and trouble are caused in finding previous correspondence. [/inserted]

Any Questions?
When sending in questions would next of kin kindly always give their name and address so that their letters may be answered by post if, for any reason, it is not possible to reply in this Journal.

Labels and Coupons
As we are not now allowed to send next-of-kin parcels, what shall I do with my label and coupons?
The Postmaster-General has recommended that no further next-of-kin parcels should be handed in for the present, but their despatch has not at any time been prohibited. Instructions about labels and coupons were given on page 16 of the August journal.

Camps in Eastern Germany
There are rumours about camps in Eastern Germany being moved. If this is so, how soon shall I be informed of my husband's new address? He is a prisoner in Stalag XXB.
As soon as information is received about the transfer of any prisoner of war the next of kin is informed; but this news is frequently received in the first instance by the next of kin from the prisoner himself.

Soap for Parcel
Should the soap which I bought to send to my son, who is a prisoner in Poland, just before the parcel ban, now be returned to my next-of-kin centre?
The despatch of next-of-kin parcels has not at any time been prohibited. We would recommend you to keep the soap and all other articles which you may have ready for your parcel in case the Post Office should again be able to forward parcels to prisoners.

Taken Prisoner in Normandy
I have been notified that my son was taken prisoner in Normandy. How soon shall I receive an address where I can write to him?
It is impossible to say how soon his camp address will be known, but you will be told by the Red Cross how to address your letters to him until you receive his permanent camp address.

Musical Instruments?
It has been stated that a limited number of parcels, mainly music, books and games, is still being sent to the camps. Will my son, who is a prisoner in Stalag 383, receive the musical instrument for which he asked recently?
We have no knowledge of the statement to which you refer. If the musical instrument for which your son has asked was despatched before the recommendation made by the Postmaster-General that no further parcels should for the present be posted to prisoners, your son will no doubt eventually receive it, though its delivery may be delayed.

Examination Papers
Are examination papers still being sent to the camps in Germany?
Yes. The Chairman of the Prisoners of War Department referred to these in his message to next of kin in the August journal.

Clothing Coupons
When my house was bombed recently clothing coupons issued to me by my next-of-kin centre were destroyed. To whom should this be reported?
You should write to the Packing Centre at 14, Finsbury Circus, London, E.C.2, giving a full explanation of the circumstances.

Change of Camp Name
Why was Oflag VIIIF changed to Oflag 79?
The numbering of camps is entirely a matter for the German authorities. The change in this case was made after the prisoners had been moved from Maerisch-Trueban to Waggun in quite a different part of Germany.

New Camps
Will my husband, taken prisoner in Normandy, be sent to an entirely new camp or will he be accommodated in one of the camps which already exist?
So far the prisoners taken in Normandy appear to be going to already established camps; but it is impossible to say whether they will continue to do so.

Air-raid Shelters
Are all camps equipped with air-raid shelters?
The majority of camps in Germany are equipped with air-raid shelters. Should, however, the representative of the Protecting Power when visiting any of the camps discover that adequate air-raid shelters were not available, they would immediately bring this to the notice of the German Government.

Camp Location
Can you tell be the location of Stalag IVA?
Stalag IVA is at Hohenstein, south-east of Dresden. (Red Cross map, reference F6.)

[inserted] THIS Journal is sent free of charge to those registered with the Prisoner of War Dept. as next of kin. In view of the paper shortage no copies are for sale, and it is hoped that next of kin will share their copy with relatives and others interested. [/inserted]

Printed in Great Britain for the Publishers, THE RED CROSS AND ST. JOHN WAR ORGANISATION, 14 Grosvenor Crescent, London, S.W., by THE CORNWALL PRESS LTD., Paris Garden, Stamford Street, London, SE1.

Collection

Citation

Great Britain. Red Cross and St John war organisation, “The prisoner of war, Vol 3, No. 29, September 1944,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 24, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/17115.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Can you help improve this description?