The prisoner of war, Vol 2, No. 16, August 1943



The prisoner of war, Vol 2, No. 16, August 1943


Includes: editorial matters; music round the camps; official reports from the camps; (two pages missing); letters; how they help funds (fund raising at home); fun and games; news from the far east; parcel points; knitting pattern for 'waistcoat for warmth'; notes on parcels; any questions? Includes photographs throughout.



Temporal Coverage




Fourteen page printed document (two pages missing of original sixteen)


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THE Prisoner of War

[Red Cross and St John Logo’s]

Vol. 2. No. 16 Free to Next of Kin August, 1943

The Editor Writes –
“WHAT will he be like when he gets back?” The family of every prisoner of war is always, naturally enough, wondering about the answer to that question. Will he still have the same interests? Will the same little things amuse or irritate him? Well, we [italics] shall [/italics] find him changed – that I think is certain; but changed in rather the same way, perhaps, as we at home ought to be, after the bombing and rationing in not taking peace and plenty quite so much for granted as we did before.

What Life Really Is
A prisoner in Stalag XVIIIA gives us a clue when, writing of the time before his Red Cross parcels began to arrive, “In those days,” he says, “ I often used to think of the things I have refused at home. Believe it or not, but this life has really shown me what life really is. Do you remember the old saying, ‘You don’t know you’re born yet’? Well, I didn’t before I was taken prisoner.” It’s an opinion held also by a Sergeant in Campo P.G. 65, who tells his wife that she will “find my sense of value has changed considerably when I come home. In fact, I think I will be much more tolerant and not quite so critical. . . .”

The Journal Overseas
Next of kin are a far-flung family, and [italics] The Prisoner of War [/italics] goes out to them in many parts of the world. Sending it, we are thankful to know how sure nowadays are the chances of its safe receipt. For instance, I have just had a letter from a lady in the British West Indies who has received every issue of the magazine to date (May) with only one exception. “I think it is a wonderful tribute,” she says, “ to the men of the Merchant Navy and their exceedingly efficient guard – our Navy – that they reach me in far-off Dominica.”

The Proof of the Parcel
Talking of long journeys reminds me of the story of a standard food parcel that was returned to this county recently. As one of a consignment of parcels sent out weekly from the North Row Packing Centre on behalf of Allied Red Cross Societies, this had originally been addressed to an Allied prisoner in Germany who could not, however, be traced. After months of travelling it was sent back by the Germans to England, via Geneva. It

Returning to the farm – a member of Stalag XXB.

had been away a little over a year.
Reports on the condition of its contents read very reassuringly.

All Fit to Eat
The British Food Manufacturers’ Research Association, after examining the margarine, cheese, bacon, tins of meat, condensed milk, as well as carrots and oatmeal, pronounced all the products as fit for consumption. The only article affected in any way was the cheese, which with a slightly bitter flavour“ would be objected to by some people and not by others.” The tins of damson jam and marmalade, analysed by a different laboratory, were found also to be in excellent condition.

Delegate’s Travels
Dr. Hans de Salis has been travelling continuously, too, during the last six months, but to much more useful purpose. As the International Red Cross delegate to Italy, he has visited sixty prisoner-of-war and civilian internment camps. In the course of a special 12,600-mile tour by road and rail he held 220 interviews with Italian authorities, wrote them 350 official notes, and sent 700 letters to his own committee in Geneva.
All this, of course, was in addition to his usual large correspondence with British and American camps leaders, prisoners and internees.

Daylight Saving
“Camp time,” writes a P.O.W. (Sub-Lieut., R.N.V.R.) from Stalag Luft III, “is one hour ahead of German time, and since this is purely our own arrangement it means that we are ahead

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2 The Prisoner of War August, 1943

of everything; it gives us fewer hours of artificial light and also we can have breakfast in bed every morning before the first check parade.” He goes on to describe how the prisoners take it in turn to get up and bring the breakfast to the others lying in bed – “ quite like an hotel.”

From the Argentine
Two brothers from the Argentine joined the R.A.F. Both crashed and were taken prisoner, one in December, 1941, and the other in April, 1942. They met in Stalag Luft III and have shared a room ever since. In a letter thanking me for the Journal, their father tells me of the difficulties of communication between himself in the Argentine and his two boys. All his letters have to go via England, and no personal parcels can be sent from the Argentine. Fortunately, the brothers have relations in England, who look after the parcel problem. On the other hand, the prisoners are able to communicate direct with their parents by air, via Lisbon.

Washing Day Sympathy
There are quite a number of men-prisoners in Germany and Italy-who now understand something of that woman’s bugbear “ Washing Day.” A P.O.W. in Stalag XXB has written home to his wife explaining what an experienced “washerwoman” he has become, but says he never realised before what a “heart-breaking and back-breaking job” the wash could be. He is also fast learning the art of mending.

“Real Life Savers”
News from fresh arrivals cheers prisoners in Italian prison camps. They feel that the end is coming nearer and their letters home bear this out. Writing to his parents, a lance-corporal in Campo P.G.65 says that P.O.W.s are “on top-toes awaiting the knock-out blow.” He speaks in glowing terms of the Red Cross, which is, in his opinion, “entitled to all conceivable praise, real life-savers in the very essence of the word.”

P.O.W.’s Patron Saint
Our notice in the June Journal of the services arranged by the Rev. R. H. S. Gobbett, rector of St. Leonard’s Church, Wallingford, bought him a number letters from next of kin asking that their prisoners should be remembered by name in the intercession at the altar. So great was the response that the rector has sent a printed letter in reply, adding the following dates for prayers for the P.O.W.:
August II: Wednesday, 9.30 a.m.; August 31: Tuesday; 7.15 a.m.; September 11: Saturday, 8 a.m.

In a Factory Canteen
A P.O.W. who is a member of a working party attached to Stalag XVIIIA gives an interesting comment on messing arrangements. These prisoners work in a paper factory and share the canteen with German civilians. It is a few minutes’ walk from the factory and is a modern building. German civilians sit one side of the room and the prisoners the other. Both “dish up” from the same place. The P.O.W. says that the food is cleaner and better than provided in his previous working party.

Marlag und Milag
A hut captain in Marlag und Milag has sent home a revealing account of his daily routine. “Up at half-past six, then muster and count at seven (also at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.), after that a spot of breakfast, clean out the room and shine things up a bit. Potter about the garden.” Next, he undertakes his own special duties, distributing the mail, circulating parcel lists, sending boots for repairs – any number of odd jobs, all important to the life of the camp. Lunch – soup – is at noon, after which P.O.W.s “bung a medicine ball around,” or take a nap, according to their tastes. This hut captain is making a practice cricket pitch which is “a darned sight harder than making a crazy pavement in a backyard.”

Italians Were Pro-British
A P.O.W. who has been repatriated from Italy, where he was in Campo P.G.85, has given some account of conditions in the camp. He says “the Italians were very pro-British and treated us well.” He gives the time that letters take to reach P.O.W.s from England – rather a wide margin – three weeks to two months and personal parcels “even longer.” Red Cross parcels keep prisoners supplied with food, cigarettes and clothing. His letter ends on a very encouraging note: “All the boys know they won’t be P.O.W.s much longer.”

Some of the gardeners at Stalag XXIA.

Responsible Citizens
A P.O.W. in Campo P.G.70 writes home about the lectures he is giving to fellow P.O.W.s and the interesting debates and discussions they arouse. History is this lecturer’s main interest and the influence English history has on our political life. He says that P.O,W.s are “beginning to see meaning in the history of their own neighbourhood as well as having an idea of how and why we are governed.”
One of his students was so thrilled that he expressed a fear that the war would end before the course was finished !

Real Walks
A lieutenant in Campo P.G.49 says that there is an improvement there in the way of exercise. “Walks have started,” he writes, “and promised to be excellent – real walks instead of the gentle ambles we have had in the past. This morning, for instance, we started out at 8.30 and got back about 11.30, using a good swinging stride.” This P.O.W. says that “there is a barber’s shop” and “quite a good but expensive laundry service,” for which local nuns are responsible.

Mrs. Churchill’s Fund
Mrs. Churchill’s Red Cross “Aid to Russia” Flag Day will take place in the London area on Tuesday, August 24th, and in the countries on any day found suitable. The help of next of kin as sellers will greatly appreciated, and those able to spare a few hours should get in touch with their local Red Cross and St. John office, or, if residents in the County of London, should apply to 43. Belgrave Square. S.W.I (Tel.: Sloane 9151).

One Letter a Week
I have been asked by several wives and mothers of prisoners whether there is a regulation restricting prisoners from receiving more than one letter a week from their relatives. The answer is that there is no such regulation, but the authorities are very anxious in the interests of all prisoners that relatives should ration themselves in regard to letters. It is obvious that as every letter has to be read by censors in the prison camps, the more letters that arrive the greater delay there will be in their reaching the prisoners. And if every wife and mother were to write one or more letters every week the congestions would be very serious.
The ideal arrangement, therefore, would be for the wife and mother of a prisoner to agree between themselves to write in different weeks. This is just plain common sense.

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August, 1943 The Prisoner of War 3


MUSIC round the CAMPS
[italics] How the Red Cross Helps to Supply the Musical Needs of Our Men [/italics]

TO most of us entertainment means music in some form or another, whether we like to dance to it, sing to it, or just sit quietly and listen to it. In prison camps, especially, music is one of the greatest forms of relaxation.
It is the work of the Indoor Recreations Department, which also sends out books and games, to supply the musical needs of our men. The department keeps all the camps regularly supplied with packages of music of all kinds, as well as large numbers of portable musical instruments.
Mixed bags of music in bulk to suit all tastes are sent periodically to all the camp leaders. A typical package contains, for example, albums of tenor and baritone songs, operettas, vocal and piano pieces, an operatic album, popular song and dance numbers, arrangements for small orchestras of musical compositions by well-known composers, a popular classical work for full orchestra, and scores for small orchestras.

Those Mouth Organs
Many individual requests are received, and these are complied with as far as possible. A great number of men are learning to play and instrument and to take an absorbed interest in music for the first time. There are many applications for easily learned instructions, such as the ukulele, and there is an astonishing demand for mouth organs! Unfortunately, the latter were almost exclusively manufactured in Germany, which makes these last requests rather difficult to fulfil. But not long ago a ship captured from the Germans was found to be carrying a cargo of mouth organs, which the Red Cross were able to buy very cheaply and send back to Germany to our men in the camps!
Other very popular instruments are the piano accordion, the saxophone and clarinet, and the guitar. Scottish prisoners frequently ask for bagpipes. Instruments are purchased whenever possible, but saxophones and piano accordions are now very rare and difficult to find, as they, too, were very largely made in Germany. The Red Cross are delighted to receive donations of second-hand instruments to send out to prisoners.

Thanks to the great help given by the Services Musical Instrument Fund, whose experts examine and recondition all second-hand instruments for prisoners of war, as well as crating and packing them, it has been possible to build up whole orchestras to send out, besides granting many individual requests.
The Red Cross has never sent gramophones to the Prisoner of War Camps in connection with their bulk supplies of musical instrument because of the comparative fragility of these instruments and the difficulty of repairs in the camps, and have concentrated on the more durable musical instruments, but do their best to fulfil any special requests, and forward instruments supplied by next of kin.
Violins are, of course, in great demand and many of the men are learning to play this instrument. When a learner sends a request for any particular instrument a tutor and a book of exercises and beginner’s pieces are sent out at the same time. Strings, reeds, etc., are also sent.

Stalag IVA’s dance band. The piano was bought by the prisoners.

Most of the musical scores and songs sent out are new, because the enemy will not accept second-hand music. However, in Germany second-hand music is accepted if it is entirely unmarked.
The appreciation of the P.O.W. is certain. Good use is made of the material, and enthusiastic letters reach home. A prisoner, writing from Italy and describing a recent concert, says : “It was so good that one forgot it was a P.O.W. camp.” The programme included “Invitation to the Waltz,” Beethoven’s “Pastorale,” and Mozart’s songs and “Tannhauser.” Another prisoner writes with appreciation and artistic understanding of “The Moonlight Sonata.” In one German Stalag three performances of the “Messiah” were given.
One prisoner in an Italian Camp speaks proudly of the camp’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty,” in which there were “some grand tunes composed in the camp and played by the theatre orchestra.”

British Composers
Works by British composers are especially popular. There are frequent requests for Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas and for musical comedies such as “The Dancing Years,” “The Desert Song,” and “Rose Marie.”
But every musical taste is catered for, from jazz to Beethoven, Purcell to Vaughan Williams, and it is interesting to note that the men are becoming increasingly interested in classical music and in serious modern work. One German camp has put in a request for works by Elgar and Sibelius as well as for Holst’s “Planets.”
Experience has proved that the encouragement of the performance of music not only enables the many pre-war professional musicians now prisoners to keep in touch with their profession, but provides a valuable mental stimulus and is the basis of much of the social life in the prisoners’ small world.

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4 The Prisoner of War August, 1943


[inserted][italics] IN every case where the conditions call for remedy, the Protecting Power makes representations to the German or Italian authorities. Where there is any 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. [/italics][inserted]

Three officers and nineteen other ranks remain as permanent staff of this R.A.F. transit camp, which is pleasantly situated on the border of a forest. Accommodation is still considered excellent. Air-raid trench shelters have been provided. Ten British prisoners of war have formed a voluntary work party and live in a small building outside the camp; they have considerable freedom. (Visited April.)
Reserve Lazaret Hohe Mark was also visited and reported to be quite satisfactory.

Reserve Lazaret Elsterhorst. – Elsterhorst has now become the centre for all T.B. cases in Germany. The entire staff and patients at Konigswartha were transferred here during March. There are nine British medical officers, 53 orderlies, and 252 British patients. Each man has three blankets, and heating was described as sufficient. Special diets are cooked on the stoves in the barracks, and a certain amount of milk is available daily.
The Senior British Officers declared this Lazaret to be a great improvement on Konigswartha, and that the air is dry and more suitable for the patients. Clothing is in bad condition generally. A British chaplain lives at the Lazaret and visits the other Lazarets in the area and the British work camps.

Stalag XXID
Members of a working party.

Reserve Lazaret Schmorkau. – This Lazaret is intended for medical and surgical cases; there is a small section for mental patients. It is installed in single-stored stone buildings, in part of a large private estate. The buildings are grouped round a large courtyard.
There are 25 British patients, one British Medical Officer, and one orderly. There were no real complaints, except that the issue of coal had been hardly sufficient during the winter. Sanitary installations were satisfactory. The stove in the Lazaret is to be at the disposal of the British prisoners of war for two hours every day for private cooking.
There are excellent French, Serb, and Russian doctors in the Lazaret. The Church of England Chaplain from Elsterhorst visits the Lazaret monthly. (Visited April.)

Reserve Lazaret Freising. – There are fewer patients in Freising now that patients from Oflag VIIB are sent to a Lazaret at Neuberg. There were no complaints from Freising. It was hoped to arrange periodical visits from the British Medical Officer at Stalag VIIA from time to time. (Visited February.)

Marlag is the Royal Naval Camp, and all the Merchant Navy are interned in Milag.
Marlag is divided into an officers’ and other ranks’ camp.
Marlag Officers’ Camp. – There are 139 officers and 15 orderlies in this camp; accommodation is described as good. An extra shower-room is at the disposal of the whole camp, and it is now possible for each man to have one hot bath per week. Ventilation of the Latrine barrack has been improved, and the pits are now emptied regularly.
The officers have a common mess. Food parcels are combined with the German rations, a system which was said to cause general satisfaction. A sufficient number of blankets are now issued to any sick in the infirmary.
The canteen supply is described as fairly good. Recreation is well organised, and a new theatre and stage has been built. Delivery of mail has not been good during the last few months.
Marlag Other Ranks’ Camp. – This camp contains 460 ranks and ratings. A few improvements have been made. A whole barrack is now devoted to work-shops and study rooms. There is no overcrowding, and sanitary installations have been improved in the same way as in the officers’ camp. Recreation is well organised, and the men now have a good playing field. Complaints concerning mail occur from most camps in Germany at the moment.
Twenty-five prisoners of war are detained in the small camp which used to contain the “repatriable prisoners of war.” These prisoners are chained from 8 a.m-9 p.m. They have two rooms and are treated exactly as other prisoners; they receive their parcel regularly and had no complaints.

Milag – Merchant Navy Camp. – Several more barracks have been completed or repaired. A large barrack has been set aside for parcels storage. There are over 3,200 internees here, including 922 officers. Accommodation is good, but bugs appear from time to time in some of the barracks in spite of frequent fumigation. Medical and dental attention is well organised over the whole of this camp. A large new sports ground has been arranged. (All visited May.)

There appears to be very little change in this camp. Lighting is still inadequate and is worse in the orderlies’ quarters than it is in the officers’ quarters. It seems that improvement is improbable, as the power station of the town is not large enough.
The same situation applies to the inadequate water supply, consequently sanitary arrangements are still at fault. There is great difficulty in procuring suppliers of crockery and cutlery. A study room has been put at the disposal of the prisoners of war. Discipline is extremely severe at this camp (Visited April.)

The camp is situated at the foot of a hill and overlooks a valley with a chain of wooded mountains on the far side. Accommodation remains very much overcrowded. A new barrack has been completed and is in use for those officers undergoing disciplinary punishment. It was reported that the barracks are being

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August, 1943 The Prisoner of War 5

Red Cross parcels arriving at Stalag XXA.

cleaned one by one – a slow process.
There are 1,696 officers and 258 orderlies in the camp. All available rooms are in use as dormitories, and the only room left available for study is the canteen; this is reserved for officers who hope to sit for examinations. More electricity has been installed, though there are still two barracks lit by carbide lamps.
Eight bed boards are now allowed to each bed. No change has been made in the heating system. Pegs and shelves have been fixed in some barracks, but no extra showers. Officer are allowed three hot showers a month. There have been no changes in the toilet arrangements. There are now nine medical officers in camp; three dental surgeons work in the dental station, for which equipment has now been supplied. A number of eating utensils (plates and mugs) have been distributed. (Visited April.)

There are now over 4,000 prisoners of war at this camp. It is to be enlarged, by the erection of new barracks, on what is now the sports field; this will be moved some distance away. More seating accommodation has been provided, though there is not yet enough.
Electric lighting has been improved, but repairs on huts have not been done, owing to lack of material. A second kitchen is now in use. Rubbish bins are emptied regularly. Medical attention, in the charge of three British Medical Officers, is satisfactory, but the dental surgery is still badly in need of material. A new laundry has been built and is to be out into immediate use. There are now three chaplains in the camp.

Oflag IVC, where a study has been put at the disposal of p.o.w.s

CAMPO P.G.5 P.M.3100
There are 171 officers and 60 other ranks at this camp. There have been no interior changes. A small sports ground has been found in the neighbourhood of the fortress where games can be played, and groups of officer are taken on escorted walks each day.
The receipt of mail has been rather worse lately. Red Cross parcels are delivered to the kitchen, combined with the rations and served to everybody – this seems to be satisfactory arrangement. The water supply was now decribed [sic] as adequate and hot showers are available weekly.
The impression gained by the visiting delegate was that there was a distinct improvement in the general conditions of this camp. (Visited April.)

There were at the time of visit nearly 9,000 prisoners of war in this camp; four sections were occupied, two more were being completed. The camp is built on flat table-land at a fairly high altitude. The buildings are of stone and the whole camp is described as looking rather like a village. It is, however, disappointing on closer inspection. The ground on which the camp is built is stony and uneven, and it has been necessary to build roads through the camp to enable the prisoners of war to walk about – particularly after rain.
Each section is entirely separate and under its own administration; the rooms are described as large and airy. Electric light is hardly sufficient – there was no heating of any kind during the winter either for the prisoners of war or their Italian guards.
The men use two-tier wooden beds and have a palliasse, pillow, two blankets each. The straw is only changed occasionally and then inadequately, certainly not sufficiently, even to assist in eradicating the vermin from which the men are reported to suffer great inconvenience.
A shortage of beds in the already overcrowded dormitories causes the necessity for many men to sleep in their thin palliasses on the floor. Many of the beds which are in use badly in need of repair.
Water supply is sufficient in the sections on low ground and entirely insufficient elsewhere, water being only available for about one hour per day. Two large reservoirs are being built. The lack of water naturally affects the sanitary installations.
Each section has its own fairly well equipped, though small, kitchen, and meals are taken in relays. Wood for kitchen fires is not always available. The four infirmaries are in the charge of six British medical officers and five Italian doctors. There is one British dentist and one Italian dentist, but only equipment for one.
The Infirmaries are not very well equipped – they lack running water and hot water and heating.
There are no recreation room. A football field is being arranged, but the nature of the ground makes this difficult.
The postal section is run by British prisoners of war; mail is very slow. There are four chaplains in the camp, and services are held regularly. (Visited March.)

CAMPO P.G.38 P.M. 3200 POPPI
It is hoped to make this camp into a Senior Officers’ camp. Accommodation consists of a large country villa situated on a hill with beautiful surrounding country.
There were at the time of visit 68 officers and 26 other ranks. The chief complaint at this camp was bad lighting. A new electric pump is to be installed. Clothing conditions are not good. Roman Catholic prisoners of war are allowed to attend Mass at neighbouring village church. (Visited February.)

Chiavari remains one of the best of Italian camps. Three new agricultural

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6 The Prisoner of War August, 1943

work camps have been formed from South Africans at this camp. 170 men are attached to Camp 113, 90 to Camp Broni, which will be administered by Camp No. 5. and 50 to Camp Riverolo.
There have been no interior changes at Chiavari – except the addition of a new barrack. There were no complaints, except that dental treatment is unsatisfactory. There is too much work for the civilian dentist who visits the camp twice each week. It is hoped that the chaplain will be authorised to visit the work camps. (Visited April.)

New barracks are being built to accommodate another 2,000 prisoners of war at Sulmona.

CAMPO P.G.73 P.M. 3200 CARPI
(A few miles North of Rodena)
Of the 5,106 prisoners of war at this camp, 638 are dispersed in various hospitals (P.G.201, Parma, Piacenza and Carpi). It was reported that all except English prisoners of war were to be transferred from this camp. Until this occurs the camp will remain very overcrowded; a second camp of the same size is to be erected near by.
At the time of visit all the rooms were in use as dormitories, and no recreation rooms were available. Roads and open spaces in the camp has been improved, but gravel sinks into the ground, and in winter the roads are very damp. Heating was turned on during the winter. The men have two blankets each.
Workshops are being prepared for repairs to clothing and boots. There are two canteens in the camp.
The hospital at Carpi is in the care of four British doctors and one Italian and is described as excellent. It is well equipped and is heated and has running hot and cold water.
An Italian dentist is available.
Religious services are held in the open air. (Visited March.)

CAMPO P.G.75 P.M. 3450 BARI
Bari is still a transit camp, where prisoners of war normally remain only 15-20 days, although a few have remained for several months. 139 British prisoners of war form the permanent staff.
At the time of the visit, over 2,000 prisoners of war had just left for permanent camps and there were only 184 in camp altogether. Wooden barracks have been replaced by clean stone buildings.
The prisoners of war have two-tiered wooden beds, straw mattresses, and two blankets each. The officers have camp beds. Accommodation appears to be satisfactory and bathing and washing facilities are satisfactory unless the camp is filled to capacity. Three British doctors are in charge of the infirmary.
Clothing conditions were reported to be satisfactory; a consignment had recently been received. Spaces for recreation is described as the largest open-air space seen in any camp. (Visited March.)

Of the 2,457 prisoners of war at this camp, 313 have been sent out to agricultural work camps. Only one section of Campo 82 is occupied at present. The other section is as yet incomplete. About 50 prisoners of war are assisting with the construction.
The camp is built of new stone huts; washing and bathing and toilet facilities were still unfinished. Three-tier wooden bunks are used, and each man has four blankets. About 260 men are sleeping on the stone floors; wooden boards are to be placed under their mattresses until beds arrive.

Two members of Campo P.G.52, a report of which is given on page 5.

Canals have been dug to draw off the water and to improve the conditions of the open spaces in the camp, but the ground is chalky and still remains very wet after rain. Mail and parcels arrive satisfactorily, although the mail is irregular.
Prisoners are able to cook the food from their Red Cross parcels. The tobacco issue has not always been regular. Clothing has arrived and conditions are satisfactory. Camp authorities have been asked to ensure sufficient water supply for the summer months.
Religious services are held by two chaplains. Four rooms have been made available for prisoners of war in the Italian hospital at Arrezo. At the time of the visit there were 23 British patients, who report that they are satisfied with their treatment. One of the Italian doctors practised for many years in England. (Visited February.)

Very few improvements have been made at this camp since the last visit. New barracks are being built next to the camp, to accommodate another 2,000 prisoners of war. The roads through the camp have been greatly improved. At the time of visiting there were over 3,000 p.o.w.s in the camp – mostly English.
Sufficient numbers of bunks have now been provided and none of the men is now sleeping on the floor, but the camp is so crowded that there is no room for furniture either in the officers’ quarters or in the men’s quarters. Even a large part of the library and one recreation room are in use as dormitories.
Electric light is extremely bad all over the camp, and turned off at 10 p.m.
Hot showers are taken regularly, but the men consider their washing facilities insufficient.
New cooking utensils have been issued.
The infirmary is described as making a very good impression. Two British doctors assist the Italian doctor and control the medical parcels. Dental attention is still unsatisfactory.
Clothing conditions are described as very satisfactory; the men do their own laundry but are seldom able to procure enough wood to heat water.
Parcels are reported to be arrived very well lately, but mail is very slow.
A Methodist chaplain holds regular religious services and is able to speak with all the prisoners of war.
A Roman Catholic priest who speaks fluent English takes charge of Roman Catholic prisoners of war.
Ten senior officers are interned at the Villa Orsini. There were no serious complaints except the irregularity of their mail. (Visited April.)

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August, 1943 The Prisoner of War 7

The Letters They Write Home

P.O.W.’s Dream of Heaven
Campo P.G.52. 1.6.43.
AS you see by the address, I have been moved to another camp. I think it must be the best one in Italy. The Commandant is a trump, scrupulously fair, and nothing too much trouble for our welfare.
The food is 300 per cent. better; we have a football pitch, baseball, four smashing orchestras, concerts, good canteen, no rackets, regular parcel issue. Swimming is starting shortly; water is on all day and hot baths every week or ten days.
In other words, the camp is a P.O.W.’s dream of heaven. It is situated in a lovely valley, surrounded by well-wooded hills. We had a ten-mile walk to get here and a couple of lorries to carry our kit.
It was thoroughly enjoyable, ambling along a road winding through a valley with the mountains on either side. Little villages perched on the top of them, clinging to their sides like eagles’ eyries. It must be one of the most beautiful parts of Italy.
I should like to tour with you and the Imps and Pickles when this crazy war is over. Your old man is certainly in luck. I shall be as fit as forty fiddles after a few weeks in this camp.

On the Farm
Stalag XXB. Undated.
I AM now a crack horse rider and am working four horses, and riding all day, and can honestly say that I enjoy every minute of it. I can also do nearly all that is necessary on a farm. I can take a foal from its mother and a calf from the cow. I can manage the milking, too, so when I get home I will be able to do almost anything to earn a living.

An Ideal Ascot Day
Campo P.G.70. 5.6.43.
WE have just had our Ascot race meeting; it lasted for two days, and the Ascot Gold Cup was the main race of the first day and the Derby on the second day. It was a real race meeting, including a racy atmosphere. The weather was lovely and sunny and an ideal Ascot day.
We had a tote either for cigs or cash, a big sweepstake was run on the lines of the Irish sweep, winner 500 cigs, runners 100 each.
On the course itself we had lots of bookies with stands, laying the odds for different races. The band was out in the grounds playing selections at various intervals.
On the fair ground adjoining the course were all the usual entertainments.
On top of all this there was a refreshment stall selling biscuits, tea, coffee, lemonade, cocoa, and all kinds of food and drink. All the stall holders and race stewards were dressed up grand.

Plans for Autumn
Stalag XXA. 25.5.43.
MY production of “Anthony and Anna” has been a huge success. Too hot to carry on with any further full-length entertainments, but I shall plan another for the late autumn, unless by that time a miracle has happened to put an end to captivity!
Very little news, everything is normal, and I’m ever cheerful, and even happy in a strange sort of way! Take every care of yourself, you are my anchor as you know between home and captivity, and there are lovely times for both of us ahead, of this I am certain.

Thankful for Languages and Drawing
Oflag IVC. 9.6.43.
TIME seems to be going fast in spite of each day being exactly like last – perhaps because of that. Someone who had been a prisoner in the last war and was taken again this one, said as we got near our first camp, “Well now we get down to the life. Topics of conversation will be the war, parcels and letters and escape!” He wasn’t far wrong, but as two out of three of these topics are barred to you, one is left with rather an aching void!
I’m thankful for languages and drawing, as you do feel you are getting somewhere with them and won’t look back on the time as wasted.
Apart from those with such hobbies there’s no doubt that the happiest are those in the entertainment business, as they have scope for creating something really useful.

A view of Oflag IX A/Z by one of its members.

Your Long-Lost Dad
Marlag und Milag. 4-6-43.
THIS is your long-lost Dad on the air again – fit and well and full of beans. Taking all together, I cannot grumble.
I have had a busy day to-day – a big wash-day, working in my garden, went for a good hot bath and have just come in from a long walk around the wire with a Liverpool chap from our ship, and could just do with your wonderful bed to go to; these boards do get hard. Lots of talk here about repatriation, but nothing doing, unfortunately.

Sun-bathing at Stalag VIIIB
Stalag VIIIB. 16.5.43.
I AM stretched out, sun-bathing, in the compound, which is colourful with flowers and discreetly placed vegetables. The band, three guitars, mandoline [sic] and clarinet, are practising for the next concert, and the cat is expecting kittens. What more could I ask? . . .

Out of Barracks
Oflag IX A/Z. 22.5.43.
PLEASE forgive long silence. Been very busy. On 15th I went on working party to demolish a hut on top of nearby hill. Have been helping to re-erect it and was lucky enough to go on several occasions to local sawmill to cut timber. I cannot adequately describe the psychological effect after three years in barracks. It was like coming out of a dark, damp cavern into sunlight . . . and to find that we could still use our hands . . .
This week, by the kindness of the camp authorities, we commenced parole walks for all to a bathing place in the river, 1 1/2 miles from camp. Eighty go each day. My group went Friday. River is fast-flowing, but deep enough at that spot to dive into, and it shoals down. It’s five years since I swam in a river – the Granta at Cambridge in

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8 The Prisoner of War August 1943
[underlined] These Pages Will Give You a Picture of Life in Camp [/underlined]

Dentists’ room and staff at Stalag VIII B.

‘38. Had no swim suit, so used underwear, and this I found round my ankles after diving in. Thought I’d got tied up with weeds! Got ‘em off and flung ‘em to the bank and managed with my birthday suit.

Their Camp Magazine
Campo P.G.70. 7.6.43.
DON’T give up hope because I never came home with those repatriated; they were Navy chaps. I hope to be home this year.
All the printers here have been asked to give their names in, so I did; we are going to start a camp magazine, so perhaps I can help: I think some of the copies will be able to be sent home.

Plenty of Work
Campo P.G.53. 13.6.43.
I AM glad to say I am now feeling very fit; in fact, you couldn’t do anything else in this camp as it is as good as anyone could hope for. I have plenty of work to do here, which keeps me going all day, as I am looking after the general welfare of my sector, which at the moment numbers about 2,000; but, of course, I have the help of four other chaps as well. I hope that mail won’t be too long coming through again.

Yorkshire Lads
Campo P.G.78. 7.6.43.
THE weather here is very warm. To-day had my first game at cricket: I captained a team and we won. Up “the Yorkshire Lads”!

Two Years as a P.O.W.
Stalag XVIIIA. 15.5.43.
YOU have no idea how very glad we are to receive parcels from home. We caper about with boyish joy when know there is a parcel for us.
To an outside it would appear that we were mad, no doubt. It is not so much the contents that give us joy, but that wonderful feeling that a fellow is not forgotten. Of course, contents do count.
We are troubled with rats in our barrack. They come out at night, run over our beds and kick up an awful din running over the floorboards. We have caught several in a home-made trap.
My health generally is very good, especially since I have been working on the land. We are market-gardening.
I have now completed over two years in the hands of the enemy. It’s a long time and seems so, and I sincerely hope that more than half my sentence has been served. I suppose one of these days we shall wake up and discover that this war is over.

Our Favourite Month
Campo P.G.52. 3.6.43.
SO now we come to June, our own favourite month. Do you remember the past glorious times? Yet, strangely enough, this time last year I was going through some hectic days that culminated in my capture on the 21st.
Those black days, both before and after, are now only a memory with me, and I am very little the worse for those ghastly experiences!
To-day I am feeling well and O.K. after this morning at 7 o’clock attending a P.T. class got up by ourselves and at 8 o’clock going out of camp on a walk under guard. .
This is the second I’ve been on, and the countryside is now magnificent, as our own would be at this time; so you can imagine how I enjoyed it, in addition to keeping fit for when I resume my normal life!

Tea-time at Stalag Luft 3.

We Carried a Wreath
Campo P.G.59. 23.5.43.
DURING the week a chap was killed from a nearby working camp while at work on the railway. He was run over by a rail truck, and died soon afterwards.
He came from London and was married, so on Thursday ten of us were picked to go to the funeral at the cemetery, five miles away. We carried a wreath and marched to attention the whole distance, which seemed to cause quite a lot of interest.
The padre came from Stalag and conducted the service, at which 30 of us were present. The volley, fired by twelve guards, was deafening and reminded me of Greece again.

Three members of Stalag VIIA 2780.

Never a Dull Moment
Campo P.G.70 7.6.43.
FIRST of all, I want to point out that I have left the old camp and am now at Campo 70.
I must say that this is a really fine camp; it is about five times as large as the other places, and the billets are new concrete buildings, with beds and mattresses and English blankets.
As for entertainment, there is never a dull moment, a full-size band, a theatrical group and vaudeville group. We have a large concrete hall where shows are put on, also there is a full-size library with thousands of books. As for sport, we have football, cricket and various other games.

POSTAL order for 10s will be awarded each month to the senders of the first three letters printed. We should be very much obliged if readers would send us COPIES of their prisoners’ letters, instead of the original ones, and on a separate sheet of paper.
Photographs, preferably of prisoners at work or recreation, will also be welcomed. Payments of 10s will be made for every photograph reproduced across two columns, and 5s for every photograph across one column. The name of the subject, the position of any known P.O.W. in photograph, and also the name and address of sender must be written in block letters on the back. All letters and photographs will be returned as soon as possible.
The cost of these prizes and fees is defrayed by a generous friend of the Red Cross and St. John War Organisation. [/inserted]

French Doctor’s Visit
Stalag XXA. 31.5.43.
DURING the week we had a short visit from one of the right sort of Frenchmen – a doctor on his way back to Oflag from an Arbeits-Kommando. He spoke fluent English, so we were able to converse fully and hear his views on many of the knotty problems between his country and ours.

Scene from a show at Stalag XXID/9.

Should Be a Good Camp
Campo P.G. 112. 2.6.43.
I EXPECT you are wondering what sort of camp we are at and what work we are doing. First, when everything gets settled down this should be a good camp.
There are only seventy-five of us here and our sleeping arrangements are good and washing facilities, etc., are all right. When we get our Red Cross parcels coming through we shall be O.K. Of course, our mail will be somewhat delayed, but that will come along.
Our work is general labour, with pick, spade and wheelbarrow. It does certainly pass the time away, and it cannot be any too soon for the time to come when I shall be with you again.

Well Stocked by Red Cross
Campo P.G.53 3.6.43.
ANOTHER debt to the Red Cross. Just had two weeks in the infirmary Had a bit of a fever. Quite well now, so don’t worry. I found the hospital well stocked by the Red Cross. Food parcels still coming every week. Keeping head above water and chins up. . . .

Gardening Job
Campo P.G..65. 7.6.43.
LAST week I got a gardening job outside the camp and have been out working every day except Sunday. At present I am busy helping to construct a stone wall round the garden, so I am getting into trim for when I come home. At night I read books, study or play games in the recreation room. My pal Jack expects to go farming in a few days with a pal of his from his own town. I am well fixed up for clothes now.

Very Comfortable Indeed
Campo PG.66. 4.6.43.
TO-DAY we moved into the new compound and are now very comfortable indeed. At the moment we are two in a room about 14ft. by 14ft. with tiled floors and plastered walls, six rooms to a hut and three lavatories, three wash basin, etc., at the end. .
Bags of room in the compound to play games and walk about and a nice sizable mess room with a separate ante-room the same size. They are very proud of it here, and justly so.

Oh, Ma, I Miss Your Apple Pie
Stalag VIIIB E.51 5.5.43.
WE did not have a holiday for Easter but had a day off May 1st and had a pretty good time. You should have seen the cake I made; a very fierce oven gave it a lovely colour, but for all that it was eaten and enjoyed by all.
I have been busy since I came home from work sawing up wood. We had some new records not long ago and we have just been listening to them; one seemed to get us all – “Oh, Ma, I Miss Your Apple Pie.”

Too Hot for Warm Clothes
Campo P.G.21. 4.5.43.
MAIL has been very bad for ages, but a few of your letters have turned up. Both your parcels have arrived, and I feel very well clothed now, though it is much too hot for warm clothes! Don’t send any more parcels as I require nothing now.
I am getting on well with German, though I missed a whole “term” by being in hospital for the eye operation. I focus beautifully now with both eyes and am perfectly normal again. It really is wonderful, and I can never thank the Italian surgeon enough.
We have lots of books in the camp now and I find plenty to read. Most of the best books published since the war are here.
I play a great deal of bridge, and we have lots of good players. I run various competitions and play in lots of others.

Parcels arrive at Liebenau.

Time Doesn’t Drag
Campo P.G.54. 2.6.43.
WRITING time once more. A few days ago I had two parcels. First, the music parcel from the Red Cross. Some great stuff, too, which will be very useful. Secondly, first clothing parcel. Everything excellent and just what I required. Will be very glad of my pipe.
Have plenty of useful things to do. My main interest is teaching theory of music, in the course of which, thanks to the library here, I am learning a tremendous amount myself.
I have given up conducting the choir and am now more happy as accompanist, even if it’s only on the accordion. We have just had a hymn book from the Red Cross, so now I play for the Padre’s services. So believe me, time doesn’t drag.

Members of the British Medical Staff at Campo P.G. 201.

P.O.W.’s Day at a Stalag
Stalag XXB/430. 12.6.43.
IT is now Whitsuntide and we have Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday off from work. Here’s how I pass my time. I get up each morning about 6 o’clock; when I am orderly I get up about 4.30 to make breakfast for the other boys.
We start work at seven. My first job is to get a horse from the stable to bring water from the village pump to the kitchen. I do this every day, including Sundays, then I go into the fields working with the other farm-workers. In the summer it is quite warm work with the sun blazing on you and we are all getting quite brown. We work till twelve, then we return for dinner, which is always soup. Dinner-time lasts until 1.30. then we work on until 7.30. We then return, wash and brush up and have tea, which consists of potatoes and milk soup. We have then one hour before we are locked up for the night.
The only things we can do then is to read, play cards, write or study. I spent most of my time learning German and I am getting on quite well with it. Then we have supper, which consists of food from Red Cross parcels. After that bed, and all sleep by 11 p.m.
This is one day in the life of a P.O.W.; not very exciting but not too bad. We can still carry on with a smile till the great day comes when we can return home again.

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12 The Prisoner of War August, 1943


FOR the first time in its history the hamlet of Frieston Green, near Grantham, held an open-air whist drive and jumble sale the other day, organised by the mother and sisters of Gnr. Stanley in aid of his fellow prisoners of war. There are only about a hundred inhabitants – “we have no church, chapel, shop or inn,” says Mrs. Stanley, “not even a post office” – so that £10 was considered a reasonable target. But the people evidently weren’t going to be just reasonable ; they intended to make this the occasion to show what they really felt. The result is that Mrs Stanley has been able to send to the Fund a cheque for £163 5s. “from the little village where Gnr. Stanley was born.” A truly wonderful effort.
Mr. Bryn Davies, secretary of the Blaenclydach and District Prisoners of War Fund, has sent a contribution of £41 0s. 7d. The money was collected at a football match on Easter Tuesday, and is a splendid donation.
Mrs. Whitworth, whose husband is a P.O.W. in Germany, sent £5 which she made by selling flowers, vegetables and fruit from her garden. She says her husband spent hours gardening before the war and “planted all the bulbs, flower plants and fruit bushes, etc., which have yielded the donation.”
The staff of Nicholls’ Stores, Kensington, have sent a third donation to the Funds – £2 10s – the proceed of the sale of a pair of gloves made and given by a customer. Mrs. Woodman, of Rushden, Northants, sent £10, raised by selling belts, bookmarks, etc.

“Mess and Thanks Box”
Mrs. A. Chamberlain, of Cheltenham, has a splendid scheme for raising money. She keeps a “Mess and Thanks Box.” Whenever she receives a letter from her son, who is a P.O.W., she puts in 6d., and 3d. for every card received from him. Also, whenever a member of the family, or a visitor, makes a dirty mark on the tablecloth, a fine of 1d. or more is charged – according to the size of the stain. She has sent the Funds £1 – her second contribution.
The little daughter of Mrs. Foster, of Martin Hussingtree, Worcester, was given a new party frock which was too small for her, so Mrs. Foster sold it for £1 15s and sent the proceeds to the Funds. The small girl’s only uncle is a P.O.W. in Poland.
Mrs. A. Willis, of Ickenham, whose husband’s letter won a prize in the Journal, send us back a postal order for 10s., asking us to keep it for the Funds. Mrs. Rose Wilson, of 46, Telford Road, W.10, has sent a contribution of £5 to the Funds. This fine sum was collected by herself and her family during the last six months, in threepenny bits.
Little Roy Swann, of Patchway, Bristol, sends us a postal order for 10s. This was also collected in 3d. bits. Roy’s father has been a prisoner three years and has asked Mrs. Swann to do all she can to help the Funds.

Five Girl Guides
Five Girl Guides, of Bishop Auckland, thirteen-year-old Doris Barron and Marjorie Alton, twelve-year-old Marjorie Caile, and Joyce Pattison and June Bradley, both aged eleven, sent us £8 10s. as a result of a jumble sale and concert. Doris Barron writes : “Our Girl Guides are very much interested in your Prisoners of War Fund.”
Mrs. D. Pryor, or Enfield, raised the sum of £5 by the sale of cucumbers and tomatoes given her by a neighbour. Mrs L. Watts, of Seaford, collected £2 10s by the sale of two Pearly Coster dolls, ‘Arry and ‘Arriet.
Mrs. N. Reed, of Tawnmarsh, Rotherham, sends a donation at the request of her brother, who is a P.O.W. in Germany. Referring to Red Cross parcels, she says that her brother “always emphasises the difference which these extras make to the life of a prisoner of war in brightening up an otherwise dull diet.”
Mrs. Sykes, of Grimsby, is untiring in her efforts to help the Funds. Last March she collected £3 5s. Now she is aiming at a target of £20. Already she has collected nearly half of this sum.

RED CROSS food parcels – A scene in a pantomime at Stalag IXC.

Sold Her Baby Doll
Congratulations to 16-year-old Eileen Duggleby, of Malton, Yorks, who raised £20 5s. by the sale of her baby doll. Eileen who has been an invalid for the past three years, has two brothers who are prisoners of war in Italy.

Mrs. Walsh, of Frinton-on-Sea, has a four-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who has collected 10s. in ship halfpennies and is well on the way to her next 10s.
From Mrs. K.M. Holden, of Wokingham, Berks, comes a contribution of £20 which she raised by holding a dance at Hurst village hall. She writes that “the ‘Prisoner of War’ Journal has brought many happy evenings to me after a day’s work at the factory.”
This is how the rural parish of Great Mollington, Cheshire, helped to increase our Funds by the magnificent sum of £271 2s. On June 26th, they held a fête in Mrs. Nicholson’s garden. Everybody helped; there were no expenses. All the prizes, refreshments, goods for sale, etc., were given “free and gladly.” The fête included a number of side-shows such as clock golf, darts, a treasure hunt, a fortune teller.
Owing to limitation of space, will the following accept this brief acknowledgement?
Mrs. J. Macgregor, of Cupar, Fife, 10s.; V. K. Boulding, of Ipswich, £1; Mrs Margaret Chandler, of Norwich, 10s,; Mrs Cecily Parry Evans, of Birkenhead, 10s.; Mrs. B. Hughes, of Lambeth, S.E.1, 7s. 6d.; Mrs. A. Andrews, of Bolton, 10s.; Mrs. M. Jarmain, of Tarrant Monckton, Dorset. £1; Mrs. E. Kedge, of IIford, Essex, 2s.; Ann P. Meadley, of Hartlepool, £1 2s. 6d.; Mrs. H. E. Mills, of Devizes £5; Mrs Dorothy M. Blakey, of Thursk, Yorks, £1; Miss M. Foster of South Shields, Durham, 10s.; Master George Williams, of Victoria Park, E.9, 13s. 6d.; Mr. Threlfall, of Forndown, Dorset, 10s.; Mr. A. Grey, of Grimsby, £1.

Camp List
THE following additions should be made:-
Italy: P.G.55. P.M. 3200; P.G.53 is at Sforza-Costa, nr. Macerata: P.G.62 is at Grumillino, Bergamo.
Germany: Heilag XXI, a new camp S.E. of Schubin, probably now known as Oflag 64/Z, for prisoners formerly at Stalag XXIA, who are eligible for repatriation); Oflag XXIB and Stalag 319, now closed.

British Officer P.o.W.s in Italy
THE Financial Secretary of the War Office announced in the House of Commons on June 29th that the increased daily charge to officers who are P.O.W.s in Italy of 8.60 lira has now been withdrawn by the Italian Government with effect back to July 1, 1942.

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August, 1943 The Prisoner of War 13

A happy group at Stalag XXA/3. The costumes of the “girls” were made by a sergeant from Red Cross parcel wrappings.


‘Appy’ Ampstead in Italy – Football at Oflag IVC – Stalag Luft 3’s Own Theatre

Strenuous Football
MEMBERS of Oflag IVC are now allowed beyond the courtyard once a month for a game of football. A P.O.W. writes that “everyone thoroughly enjoys himself,” but says that the ground was “hard baked. . . worn to bare gravel in front of the goals.” He adds that “only one man got knocked out and that was with a boot.” He himself was “not so cooked as I expected “ after half an hour each way.

Jack Payne’s Offer
A P.O.W. in Marlag und Milage Nord who has earned the reputation of “keeping the camp in songs and plays” has something to look forward to when the war is over. His mother writes that she has had a letter from Jack Payne offering an audition to the P.O.W. when he is home again. A real piece of luck!

Blithe Spirit
Campo P.G.65 recently produced Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.” It was a great success. A P.O.W. writes that the dresses for the “female” parts were made by “master tailors.” This correspondent also says that he thinks his own section have “the best band in the camp.” A new alto-clarinet player has just turned up, he says, who has hitherto been “hiding his light under a bushel.”

‘Appy ’Ampstead
Campo P.G.21 held a “’Appy ’Ampstead” Fair, complete with sideshows, costermongers and pearlies. A P.O.W. writes that “there were such things as marionette show, built completely in the camp, boxing booth, series of horse-races, goal-scoring against a goal-keeper . . . treasure hunts, Aunt Sally, etc.”

Exhibits from Tins
Campo P.G.52 held an Arts and Crafts exhibition in June. Many of the exhibits, so a P.O.W tells us, were made from tins from Red Cross parcels.

Writing Orchestrations
A P.O.W. in Stalag Luft 3 is writing some orchestrations for a small orchestra. He says “It is wizard to hear one’s own work played!” The camp seems to be very busy with lectures and rehearsals.

Fancy dress ball at Vittal.

Theatricals at Stalag XXB
Stalag XXB has been put on a play called “Monkey Business.” A P.O.W. writes that they “had over 200 visitors from various Kommandos. We put it on again to-morrow,” he adds, “and expect another 200.”

Table Tennis
A P.O.W. in Campo P.G.65 writes that P.O.W.s have been doing “quite a bit boxing.” There is also a gym, and, in the Games Room, a tennis table made from the box wood in which New Zealand parcels are encased. It is a very good table, says this P.O.W., but has invariably a very long waiting list.

Gramophone Club
Campo P.G.78 have a gramophone club which gives concerts of classical music. One of the club members has presented a large library of Bing Crosby records, which are much appreciated. These gramophone concerts are often held in the open in the evenings.
A P.O.W. writing home describes what a pleasant relaxation they provide, and also mentions the camp’s two excellent dance bands and their dramatic society’s production of “George and Margaret.”

Building their Theatre
A P.O.W. in Stalag Luft 3. writing home in April, says that prisoners are building their own theatre, and have an ambitious programme in preparation, which includes Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” “The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse,” and a revue. This camp also has gramophone concerts once a week.

Rubber at Stalag 383
Stalag 383 have had some fine international Rugby matches lately.
England v. New Zealand resulted in a win for the latter by 16 points to 3. Wales v. Australia drew 9 points each.”
This camp has also had some “fine boxing matches recently.”

Photo-Frame from Tins
“Chief of my occupations is tin-smithing,” writes a member of Campo P.G.54. “I have made a tin suitcase and a smashing gold and silver frame from tins from Red Cross parcels.”

July Selection of Penguin Books
PENGUIN BOOKS have informed us that the following ten books were chosen as the July selection for prisoners in camps in Germany and Italy:-
Why Shoot a Butler, Georgette Heyer; Scottish Short Stories, Edited by Theodora and H.F. Hendry; A Book of Talbot. Violet Clifton; Persuasion, Jane Austen; The Mutiny of the “Elsinore,” Jack London; Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah; Sporting Adventure. J. Wentworth Day; A Man’s Man, Ian Hay.

Social Life in the Insect World, J.H. Fabre; The Centuries Poetry 4: Hood to Hardy, Complied by Denys Kilham Roberts.

P.O.W.s of B.A.B.20. look at photographs of plays and players.

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14 The Prisoner of War August, 1943


Your Letters Typed Free
NEXT of kin of men in the Far East realise the advisability of having their letters typed; but many of them, finding it impossible to have this done, have in the past had to write their letters or to print them in block capitals.
Now, thanks to a splendid offer received from a famous organisation in London, we are able to announce the following scheme. Many hundreds of volunteers – all of them professional typists – have been recruited by that organisation to undertake the task of typing the letters on behalf of the next of kin. They are working anonymously and without recompense, and we feel sure that this kind service will be welcomed. Those wishing to avail themselves of it are asked to follow these instructions: -
1. Write your letter on an ordinary sheet of notepaper. Both sides may be used, but only one sheet is allowed.
2. Write, on a separate slip of paper, FULL particulars of the name and address of the prisoner and of your own name and address.
3. Place both in an envelope, together with a plain sheet of notepaper and an envelope. (This plain paper and envelope will be used for the typing of the letter to the prisoner.)
Nothing else should be put into the envelope, as the letters will be forwarded immediately for typing and posting to the prisoner.
4. Put the letters “T.S.” in the top left-hand corner of the outside envelope, which must also bear a 2 1/2d. stamp. Seal it and address it to :

Next of kin may, if they prefer, hand in their letters to their local Red Cross Office., which will forward them to the above address. No acknowledgements will be sent.

No responsibility can be accepted, either by the Red Cross and St. John or by the staff of volunteers, in any matter relating to this service, and letters will be accepted only on this understanding. Every step has been taken to ensure careful handling and the correct despatch of letters, and next of kin are also assured that all letters will be treated in the strictest confidence.
When typed, letters will not be returned to the writers.

Next of kin who have already typing facilities at their disposal are earnestly asked to continue with them. The whole purchase of the present scheme is to help those who are still in the need of it.

Missing in the Far East
IN a reply to a question in the House of Commons, Mr. Arthur Henderson, Financial Secretary to the War Office, stated that allowances and allotments to wives and dependants of those reported missing in the Far East will be continued for the following periods if the officer or man continues to be missing for so long:
Malaya and Burma, if missing before November 1st, 1942 – Up to 95 weeks from the date the relatives were notified or to January 31st. 1944, whichever is the earlier.
Netherlands East Indies, who were posted missing from February 1st, 1943 – Up to 43 weeks from the date the relatives were notified or to January 31st, 1944. whichever is the earlier.
Burma, if missing on or after November 1st, 1942, and before June 1st, 1943 – Up to 52 weeks from the date the relatives were notified.
Mr. Arthur Henderson said that no re-payments in respect of the difference between normal allowances and pensions would be asked from next of kin who are at present receiving allowances in respect of men reported missing should these men be subsequently reported killed.
The cases of men reported missing in the countries quoted and new cases arising will be reviewed before the end of the year.

What the Japanese characters mean on this card sent from a British P.o.W. in the Far East. Left Panel – Prisoner of War Mail, Tokyo Prisoner of War Camp; Censored-Ichimura (Seal of Censor). Right Panel – Prisoner of War Mail.


Captured at Java
Hakodate Camp. 29.2.43.
FIT and well although very thin; was captured at Java. Being fed on rice and soup three times a day; long for home cooking.

Sleep on a Verandah
Camp. “S.” Hong Kong. 4.9.42.
CONTINUE very fit. Have all necessities of life here and also quite a few amenities: concerts, a band, games, canteen. No compulsory work except camp routine: but I like to garden every morning. In the afternoon I read, work at science, or play chess to keep the mind exercised. . . . I sleep on a verandah in sight of the stars and sunrise over the hills. Good omens!

A Good Christmas
Zentsuji. 13.1.43.
. . . HERE comes my third letter. They have now been reduced to 150 words, so I must be brief.
Life goes on as usual, and am keeping very well. The weather is cold, and we’ve had snow, but we somehow manage to keep warm. All things considered, we had a good Christmas, very much filled with thoughts of you. . . . I am back to weight.

Conditions Improved Lately
Korea. 21.11.42.
PUT on five pounds in the three months I have been here. Not as cold as Catterick. Climate, Swiss. Conditions improved lately. All officers together and treated as officers. Living in big, well-warmed rooms. Hope to be able to write every two months, but don’t count on regular arrivals. Time passes surprisingly quickly.

New Year Holiday
Shanghai P.O.W. Camp. 1.1.43.
WE have been granted permission to write home. We had lovely Christmas dinner, besides a large amount of tinned goods that were sent in to us.
For New Year we have been granted three days off from work.
Our rooms now have been fitted with stoves, so we are much better off than when we were first captured. The weather seems to be in our favour, and the few hours’ work each day in the open air is keeping us all in fine health.
(Continued at foot of col. 1, page 15.)

[page break]

August, 1943 The Prisoner of War 15

PLEASE wrap chocolate carefully in plain paper when including in your next of kin parcel. If not wrapped it is liable to cause damage to clothes.

P.o.W.’s Rank
Rank should be included in the address on next of kin parcels, but the censorship do not allow the addition of “Paratroop” or “Commando” if the P.O.W. belongs to either of these Services; neither should these words be included in the marking of clothes.

Owing to the difficulty of obtaining brilliantine in tins the Red Cross recently allowed the contents of pots to be transferred to tins for despatch in next of kin parcels. This has proved to be impractical because the cream leaks out, even when the tin carefully sealed with adhesive tape, and the other contents of the parcels are liable to be damaged. Therefore, brilliantine and other creams can no longer be accepted if packed in this matter. They can still be accepted if they are in tin containers as packed by manufacturer.

Pipes may be sent to prisoners of war through permit holders in the same way as tobacco and cigarettes. They may also be included in N/K parcels.

Football Boots
Football boots may not be sent to prisoners of war in Italy.

IN view of the number of enquires on the subject of mail from prisoners and internees in Japanese hands, the Post Office announces that some 7,000 letters and postcards have been received in the last few weeks from camps in Japan, Korea, Formosa, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. The Japanese authorities announced recently that mail had been despatched from all camps except three at which the necessary arrangements had not then been completed. It is therefore probable that more letters are on the way, but it cannot be stated when they are likely to arrive.
The location of the three camps from which mail has not yet been despatched is not at present known.

A Further 20,000 Postcards
A further 20,000 postcards and letter from prisoners of war in Japanese hands have recently reached this country and have been delivered.
About nine-tenths of the items bore Japanese character indicating that they came from Malaya; the remainder came from camps in Japan and Thailand.
The correspondence reached this country from Japan via Switzerland and Portugal, and special arrangements were made by the Post Office for it to be brought here from Lisbon by air.


This well-fitting waistcoat requires 7 oz of 3-ply wool.
Reproduced by courtesy of “Vogue”

MATERIALS. – 7 oz. of any standard 3-ply wool, one pair of needles size 8, and five buttons.
MEASUREMENTS. – Chest: 40 inches. Length : 22 inches.
TENSION. – 15 st. and 16 rows to 2 in. measured over st. 1.
STITCHES. – (1) Main part of waistcoat is worked in a spot st. in following way: 1st row (right side of work). – K2. * K. into back of 2nd st. on left-hand needle, pull it over 1st st. and drop it off needle. K. 1st st., K4 in ordinary way. Rep. from * to end. 2nd row. – P. every st. 3rd row. – K.5. * K. into back of 2nd st. on left-hand needle. pull it over 1st and drop it off needle. K. 1st st., K.4. Rep. from * to end. 4th row. – P. every st. These rows are repeated throughout. When shaping, care must be taken that 2 st. which were crossed in an odd numbered row are the 2 middle st. of 4 ordinarily knitted st in following odd-numbered row. (2) Welt and borders are worked in K.1. P.1 rib.
RIGHT FRONT. – Cast on 70 and K. back into back of st. Work in st. 2 for 2 in., then change to st. 1 with exception of 12 st. at beg. of odd-numbered and of even-numbered rows which are still worked in st. 2 for centre-front border which is kept straight up to beg. of neck shaping. Inc. 1 st. at side edge after 1 in. and every in. afterwards until there are 80 st., then work with further shaping until work measures 13 1/2 in. from beg. Shape armhole and neck simultaneously. Cast off at beg. of next and following rows which beg. at side edge. 4 st. once, 3 twice, 2 twice and 1 eleven times and at same time dec. 1 st. inside border at beg. of 1st row after beg. of armhole shaping and every 3rd row afterwards until there are 35 st. left. Work without further shaping until arm-hole measures 8 in. from beg., then cast off at beg. of rows at armhole edge 11 st once and 12 twice.
LEFT FRONT. – Follow instructions for right front. but for “even-numbered” read “odd-numbered” and vice versa so that shaping is reversed. Also, 5 buttonholes must be made in front border, the first when work measures 1 in. from beg., the others with 2 3/4 in. between each. To make a buttonhole, in a row which begins at centre-front, work 4, cast off 4. work to end. In following row, cast on 4 st. above those cast off in preceding row. When top of armhole is reached, do not cast off as in right front but work in following way: cast off at beg. of following rows which beg. at armhole edge, 11 st. once and 12 once, then work on remaining 12 (border) st. for another 6 in. Cast off.

BACK. – Cast on 126 and K. back into back of st. Work in st. 2 for 2 in. then change to st. 1. Inc. 1 st. at each end of row after 1 in. and every in. afterwards until there are 146 st., then work without further shaping until back measure same as front to beg. of armholes. Shape armholes. Cast off at beg. of next and following rows. 4 st. twice. 3 st. four times, 2 four times and 1 continuously until there are 96 st. left, then work without further shaping until back measures 7 in. from beg. of armholes. In following row, work 40, cast off 16, work to end. Finish each side separately. *Cast off at beg. of next and following rows which beg. at neck edge, 8 st. once, 4 once and 3 once, then cast off 11 st at beg. of next row at armhole edge and 2 st. at beg. of following row at neck edge. Cast off. Join wool to neck edge of remaining st. and work from * to end.
ARMHOLE BORDERS. – Before beginning borders, sew side and sleeve seams. Cast on 12 st. and work in st. 2 a strip long enough to border armhole. Cast off.
TO MAKE UP. – Sew extra border at top of left front round back of neck to join border at top of right front and sew borders to armholes. Press and sew on buttons.

[page break]

16 The Prisoner of War August, 1943


WE have now heard from the G.P.O. that, contrary to their first information, about 100-150 next of kin parcels may have been damaged on June 17th.
These parcels would all have been on their way to Finsbury Circus; no parcels which had already been through the Packing Centre were involves.
Some which were only partially damaged have been returned to the senders; but others may have been so badly damaged that they could not be identified.
It is suggested therefore, that next of kin who posted a parcel to Finsbury Circus on one of the three or four days prior to June 17th, and who have neither had it returned by the Post Office nor have received from the Packing Centre an acknowledgment postcard, or a new issue of label and coupons (which would equally be evidence that the parcel had been received at Finsbury Circus and despatched), should write to the Manager of the Packing Centre (14, Finsbury Circus, E.C.2) to ask whether the parcel was received there.
Please write “Damaged Parcels Enquiry” in block letters on the top left-hand corner of the envelope.
It is particularly requested that only those next of kin who really have reason to think that their parcels may have been damaged should write to enquire about them.

LETTERS to prisoners of the R.A.F. and Fleet Air Arm in Germany should all be addressed to Stalag Luft III, with the address of the camp where the prisoner is actually interned in brackets after it. The reason for this is that a central censorship has been set up at Stalag Luft III from which all letters are redirected.
The above does not apply to parcels, which should be addressed direct to the camp where the prisoner is known to be.

OWING to misprint in the July issue it was stated that only [italics] one [/italics] million food parcels were sent to the prison camps in Germany and Italy during the year. The number of food parcels sent from all sources during the twelve months ending June 30th were as follows: -
United Kingdom .. 6,033,296
Canada .. .. .. 3,100,704
New Zealand .. 286,880
Argentine & Brazil 549,300

TOTAL .. .. 9,970,180

Any Questions ?

Campo P.G.82
[italics] Can you tell me the location of Campo P.G.82? [/italics]
This camp is at Arezzo – some way S.S.E. of Florence.

No Repatriated P.O.W.s from Germany
[italics] I have been so much interested in news of the repatriated prisoners from Italy. Have any prisoners been repatriated from Germany yet? [/italics]
No prisoners of war from the Services have been repatriated from Germany up to the present.

His School Magazine
[italics] My husband’s old school is publishing in its magazine news of Old Boys who are serving in the Forces and of those who are prisoners. May I send him a copy of this magazine? It is, of course, printed. My husband is a P.O.W. in Italy. [/italics]
Newspapers and periodicals may not be sent to prisoners of war in enemy countries.

All Medicines Prohibited
[italics] Can I include a small bottle of aspirin in my next-of-kin parcel to my son who is a prisoner in Germany? [/italics]
If you will refer to the leaflet sent out with the next of kin parcel label every quarter, you will see that all medicines are prohibited in these parcels.

His Daughter’s Essays
[italics] May I send my ten-year-old daughter’s essay and story to my husband, a P.O.W. in Italy; both are hand-written? [/italics]
If you daughter writes these out in a letter to her father, not using more than two side of an ordinary sheet of notepaper, they may be passed by the censorship, but we cannot answer for this.

Special Camps for Escapees
[italics] Are there special camps in Germany and Italy for prisoners who have tried to escape? [/italics]
Officer prisoners of war who have tried to escape appear to be sent to certain camps which can, no doubt, be more securely guarded, but we do not know of such special camps for other ranks.

Prisoners’ Work
[italics] I understand that prisoners in some German camps who are not physically fit do light work. Would this be a full day’s work or only for certain hours? [/italics]
The number of hours worked by such prisoners would no doubt depend upon their physical condition.

No Stationery Allowed
[italics] Can I send my son, who is a prisoner in Italy, a leather blotter, pen nibs and blank paper? [/italics]
No form of stationery may be sent to prisoners of war.

Care in Hospital
[italics] Do German nurses look after our prisoners who are wounded or sick, or are they always looked after by German or British P.O.W. hospital orderlies? [/italics]
In certain hospitals German nurses care for the British prisoners of war.

Largest P.O.W. Camp
[italics] Which is the largest P.OW. camp in Germany? [/italics]
Stalag VIIIB contains the largest number of British prisoners of war in Germany.

Their Food Parcels
[italics] Do all P.O.W.s receive the same food Parcels? [/italics]
The contents of the parcels packed by the British and Dominions Red Cross Societies vary somewhat, although all conform to the general plan. They are pooled and distributed equally among British and Dominions prisoners of all ranks.

A 10lb. Parcel Every Week
[italics] Prisoners in some camps appear to receive parcels more frequently than those in others. What is the reason? [/italics]
As far as conditions or transport in the enemy countries allow, British and Dominions prisoners of war receive a 10lb. parcel of food or its equivalent in bulk supplies every week.

Campo P.G.53
[italics] Can you give me the location of Campo P.G.53?
P.G.53 is at Sforza-Costa near Macerate, about 20 miles S.W. of Ancona.

[inserted] FREE TO NEXT OF KIN
THIS journal is sent free of charge to those registered with the Prisoners 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.

PLEASE be sure to mention your Red Cross reference number whenever you write to us.

Printed in Great Britain for the Publishers, THE RED CROSS AND ST. JOHN WAR ORGANISATION, 14 Grosvenor Crescent, London, S.W.1, by THE CORNWALL PRESS LTD., Paris Garden, Stamford Street, London, S.E.1.



Great Britain. Red Cross and St John war organisation, “The prisoner of war, Vol 2, No. 16, August 1943,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 24, 2024,

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