The Prisoner of War, April 1945



The Prisoner of War, April 1945


The official journal of the Prisoners of War Department of the Red Cross and St John War Organisation. This edition covers the Editors comments, POWs released by the Russians, ex-Internees welcomed home, entertainment at the Camps, Escaped Prisoners reach Italy, Official reports from the Camps, POW letters to their homes, Rookery Nook play, charitable contributions, POW artists, Exam results, a description of Oflag 79 camp, a knitting pattern for a pullover, a new film titled 'Prisoner of War', Camp transfers and the suspension of parcel post.



Temporal Coverage




16 printed sheets


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Prisoner of War


VOL. 3 No. 36 Free to Next of Kin APRIL, 1945

The Editor Writes –

There is good news regarding the distribution of supplies from Switzerland to camps in different parts of Germany to which prisoners from eastern Germany have been sent. Fifty railway waggons, 48 with food and two with medical supplies, which left Switzerland for the neighbourhood of Moosburg, some distance north of Munich, have reached their destination and supplies are being distributed from there by lorry to British and United States prisoners of war in the vicinity.

Supplies by road

Eighteen lorries which crossed the Swiss frontier into Germany for Northern Czechoslovakia have reached their destination and distributed food parcels to some 18,000 British and United States prisoners of war in the Eger, Prague, Marienbad and Carlsbad areas. An extra 100 lorries are available in Switzerland for use as opportunity offers.

In the north at Lubeck, two large lorries already in use by the I.R.C.C. have been supplied with petrol and oil and it is hoped to obtain further lorries for use in this area from Sweden.

Ex-Prisoners at Odessa

Various estimated have been made unofficially of the total number of prisoners of war released by the Russians, but the only information that has been verified is that which has been given in reply to questions in the House of Commons. On March 6th Sir James Grigg announced that the arrival of 14 officers and 464 other ranks at the transit camp at Odessa had been reported by our Military Mission in Moscow, and on March 9th, Mr. Arthur Henderson, Financial Secretary to the War Office, in answer to a request for information about the 2,600 prisoners reported on their way to Odessa, replied that no further information had been received. Sir James Grigg has, however, given an assurance that he will give all the information he receives.

The advancing armies in the West are also overrunning prisoner of war camps, and one report speaks of 3,000 Allied soldiers, liberated from Krefeld, but there has as yet been no official information of this report.

[Group of people in uniform standing by a man at a desk] OFF TO SWEDEN. Officers of the British Red Cross and Order of St. John, bound for Sweden to look after British repatriated prisoners, take leave of Colonel Montague Brown at Red Cross Headquarters in London.

Exchange of Prisoners

Negotiations for the exchange of British and German able-bodied prisoners have not yet been completed but if they are successful the proposed scheme may well affect a considerable number of British and Commonwealth prisoners, captured before July 1st, 1940. But, lest too high hopes are raised, I must emphasise that the whole matter is still in the preliminary stages. During this war most of the prisoners exchanged have been gravely wounded men and non-combatants covered by the Geneva Convention of 1929, and the present negotiations are the first for an exchange in which the prisoners involved would be active and physically fit men.

Six British Red Cross welfare workers are waiting at a northern port ready to embark for Sweden.

As I write, approximately 800 Britons, Turks, Portuguese and Argentines have arrived in England in the repatriation ship Drottningholm for an exchange of German civilians.

Leave for Repatriates

Repatriated prisoners of war are given 42 days’ leave as soon as they are fit to go to their homes after arrival in this country. They are able to obtain ration cards, vouchers for handkerchiefs and Naafi rations of chocolates, cigarettes and tobacco. Arrangements are also made for them to be placed on the Service register as electors.

This was officially stated in the House of Commons

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2 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

last month when it was also announced that if an ex-prisoner on leaving hospital is discharged from the Army on medical grounds he is given not 42 but 56 days’ leave.

New Arrangements

Repatriates receive the amount of leave only if they are not subject to the new arrangements for members of the Forces. That is, if their in-patient treatment in a Service or E.M.S. hospital is not complete, they will not be discharged from the Services until at least eight calendar months, including 56 days’ notice have elapsed from the date of their first absence from duty through illness. The new rule does not apply to patients such as those suffering from tuberculosis, once they have been transferred to civil sanatoria. Nor will it shorten any longer period of retention in the Service now allowed under normal regulations.

Tribute to Medical Officer

A prisoner in Stalag 383 who has been suffering from a badly septic hand has written home praising enthusiastically the British medical officer who has been attending to him in the hospital. Of his time in hospital he says: “Of course, I’ve had a lot of pain and it made me ill, but, oh, the treat to be in this quiet room (only four men with me) after years in the crowded Stalags and to be out of the bitter cold. We get a little more food in here, too, and I’m afraid that means a great deal to all of us now.” Like many other prisoners, he spends a lot of his time studying, and goes on: “I have had to give up my Spanish studies as I find that two subjects will be as much as I can cope with before next summer, as the standard is, of course, much higher than matriculation. My period of study for European history is 1500-1914, which is a big undertaking. My Polish teacher is now one of my closest friends. He is very fond of music and we go to a lot of gramophone recitals together. I hope I can show him a little hospitality after the war, in England, before he returns to his own country.”

Contents of Food Parcels

It has been announced that from the beginning of April food parcels for prisoners of war will each contain 8 oz. of butter. Up to the present time 54 per cent. contained butter and the rest margarine. In future no more margarine will be sent.

May I call the attention of next of kin to the important announcement from the G.P.O. about parcels which appears on page 16.

[Photograph of a large group of men] INDOOR MEETING. Men at Stalag IVB meet together in one of the camp huts.

Camp Hospital Conditions

I am grateful to a repatriated prisoner for information about conditions in the tuberculosis camp hospital at Reserve Lazaret 742, Elsterhorst. He wrote to the parents of a staff-sergeant who is official interpreter at the hospital and camp: “I was a prisoner at Lazaret 742 for six months where I was able to see the splendid work your son is doing. He runs the administration of the whole place, and runs it very well indeed.” The food and living conditions, he added, were much better than in the ordinary prison camps.

A Rifleman’s Violin

A rifleman in Stalag IVC had a very agreeable surprise last November, when he received his violin. It had been sent off to him two years before by his wife. Writing to the Red Cross telling the story, she says: “It had been to Italy and followed him to Germany. I felt you would be interested to know this as I brought the violin up the St. James’s myself and your organisation packed it and sent it off for me. It says much for the way it was packed, for it arrived quite intact and my husband was able to play it at once.”

Lucky Reunion

By a chance in a thousand, a captain captured in Normandy found to his amazement, on arrival at Oflag 79 that his elder brother was in the camp. His brother, who has been a prisoner for about three years, was captured in Egypt, had been a prisoner in Italy and in several camps in Germany as well. Sheer coincidence brought them to the same camp. In brotherly fashion, the captain writes: “Try as hard as I can, I can detect neither mental nor physical difference in him, there isn’t any. Neither fatter than he was nor thinner; neither older nor younger, in looks or in manner. Take it or leave it. Olly is Olly; and if anything a bit more so … so far I have been unable to do anything at all except talk and talk and talk to Olly.”

Repatriates Tribute

I much appreciated the letter sent to me by a private recently repatriated from Switzerland. “Without your marvellous organisation,” he wrote, “it would have been just a horrid existence.” He added that since he had been home he had derived a lot of pleasure from reading The Prisoner of War. “They must have proved a big help during that worrying time.” He enclosed a donation with his letter, writing “May I help others who are still behind the confines of the prison camps even as others who helped me whilst I was in that position? A letter received from an officer in Oflag VIIB shoes that those who are still prisoners are hearing news of repatriated prisoners. He writes: “I know a number of officers from here who have been repatriated, and we sometimes hear from previous repatriates. They seem to have ample rations, petrol, clothing coupons, etc., given them on arrival.”

Food for Body and Mind

Over 28,000,000 Red Cross parcels of food and invalid comforts and over 1,000,000 next-of-kin parcels have been sent to British prisoners of war and internees in European prison camps since the beginning of the war. But it must not be forgotten that while the greater number of food parcels are packed in England, all the Dominions and the British communities in the Argentine and Brazil contribute to the work either by packing, by financial aid, or by provision of bulk food, for which a parcel equivalent is included in the figure above. In addition many thousands of pounds have been spent by the Red Cross on sending to the prisoners about 500,000 books of every kind needed for education or recreation, on music and musical instruments, indoor games and outdoor sports equipment. Not only the body, but also the mind of the prisoner of war has been kept fit and healthy.


If so, do not forget to notify the Army, Navy or R.A.F. authorities as well as the Red Cross of your change of address. [/boxed]

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 3

Released by the Russians

[Photograph of a group of men] Russian seamen at Odessa watch the ships depart.

RELEASED by the Russians during their swift advance into Eastern Germany, 400 British prisoners of war are, at the time of writing, on their way home to the United Kingdom. They form an advance party which will be followed by others, bringing ever larger numbers of freed captives back to those who have waited so long for their return. The majority of these men come from camps near Torun, Stalags XXA and XXB.

A second shipload of repatriates follows closely in the wake of the first.

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom they will receive 42 days’ home leave, after which they will attend a medical board. Then, depending on their state of health, they will either return to their units for a course of training in the United Kingdom, or receive the hospital treatment which has been prescribed.

Three Welfare Officers of the British Red Cross and St. John War Organisation passed through Moscow, where a special British staff is now established to contact released British p.o.w.s, on their way to Odessa.

Other Red Cross personnel plan to join those now in Russia, and together they hope to set up a semi-permanent depot at Odessa, with supplies of Red Cross comforts sufficient for 10,000 men.

These comforts include books, games, tobacco, cigarettes, soap and other toilet requisites, gramophones with recordings of E.N.S.A. shows etc. Food, clothing and medical supplies are also being sent to supplement those provided by our Russian allies.

Special consignments of tea, milk, sugar and biscuits will be available to repatriates during the journey home, so that they may enjoy “elevenses.”

More Are Coming

Almost every day trains draw into Odessa, chief southern port of Russia, bringing prisoners rescued by the Red Army – British, American, French, etc. – a great many of them civilians freed from internment camps.

When they reach this old fortified city of the Ukraine, built by the Empress Catherine in 1784-1792, and now badly damaged in the war, British p.o.w.s are taken to warm and spacious quarters in large buildings adapted as rest homes, where hot baths and excellent food are provided. Worn uniforms and ragged underclothes are exchanged for new outfits, comprising great-coats, battledresses, and warm underwear. New badges of rank and medal ribbons are issued to those entitled to wear them.

“See you in Berlin”

Various entertainments have been arranged to fill in the days of waiting until ships can take the men home.

Winter in the Ukraine is both longer and colder than in Western Europe. In January the temperature is much the same as in Stockholm at that time of year, whilst in July it is on a par to that experienced in Madrid.

As the first repatriate ship, a luxury liner of pre-war days, weighed anchor with her load of excited, happy men, someone shouted to the crowd of Russians watching from the quayside: “Thanks for everything. See you again soon, in Berlin.”

The remark brought a thunderous reply from the Russians- “Da, da” (Yes, yes) roared back from a dozen throats.

Ex-Internees Welcomed Home

AFTER years of internment, between two and three hundred British civilians, men, women and children, have been released from the German camps of Biberach, Wurzach, Liebenau and Ilag VII.

The large majority of those freed are Channel Islanders, who were forcibly deported from their homes by the Nazis in September, 1942.

A number of medical cases with their families were included in the draft. Fourteen men who joined this repatriation had been scheduled to join a previous one, but were held up in Sweden at the last minute. They had been detained at the request of the German Government when the total number of British to be exchanged was found to exceed that of the German.

Help and Gifts

At the port of embarkation at Gothenburg, in Sweden, and during the homeward voyage in the Drottningholm, the Swedish Red Cross looked after the comfort and welfare of the repatriates. When they reached the United Kingdom they were met by officers of the British Red Cross, who gave them every assistance in addition to dispensing gifts of chocolates, cigarettes and newspapers. Warm clothing costing up to £10 per head had been provided by the British Red Cross, through their Swedish colleagues, to each ex-internee before sailing.

The Ministry of Health is responsible for all arrangements made for the reception of British civilians released from enemy hands. There are excellent hostels provided at the port of disembarkation, where those requiring temporary accommodation may stay.

Previous repatriations took place in January, 1942, October, 1943 and August and September, 1944.

[Photograph of a group of people outside]

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4 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

The Brighter Side

[Boxed] Most of the paragraphs on this page 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 fewer. [/boxed]

[Picture of the front and rear pages of a pantomime programme] Pantomime programme at Marlag und Milag Nord.

FEW camps have put on a more impressive selection of shows than Marlag und Milag Nord. Bandwaggon and Marlag Coons are among the regular features. Such well-known plays as French Without Tears, Hobson’s Choice, and The Importance of Being Earnest have been produced; while Gilbert and Sullivan have been well represented with H.M.S. Pinafore, The Gondoliers and Pirates of Penzance. Pantomimes are regular favourites and the men have produced Aladdin, Cinderella, Robinson Crusoe and Dick Whittington.

Their skill in reproducing all the atmosphere of a West End show is shown by the front and back covers of the programme devised for Dick Whittington, which was written and produced by one of the prisoners. There were three acts of two scenes each and music by Mac and his Grand Pantomime Orchestra. The cast consisted of 25, with a chorus of ten villagers and eight “rats.”

On New Year’s Eve the Merchant Navy arranged a Fancy Dress Ball with some of the prisoners dressed up as girls, and had an excellent entertainment.

Hogmanay Dinner

A prisoner at Stalag IVC writes of the New Year celebrations in the camp: “Two of my pals, being Jocks, they insisted that at New Year we should have a real Hogmanay Dinner. One chap, a sign-writer, did some excellent painting of seasonal greetings, decorated the room and gave it a really cheerful and cosy appearance. Three of us did the cooking and 18 sat down to dinner.” Afterwards they had impromptu turns and a sing-song accompanied by an accordion and guitar, and finally finished up with a supper.

In the same camp they recently put on the sketch The Monkey’s Paw. It was originally intended to produce it as am “eerie hair-raising drama,” but as things were rather hectic they eventually put it on unrehearsed as a farce, rather, it appears, to the despair of the promoter. Still, the audience got plenty of good laughs.

High Opinion of Shakespeare

They have a very high opinion of Shakespeare in another camp, where The Comedy of Errors is halfway through its run. It is being played as a sort of pantomime farce, with song and dance, bright colours and red noses, and one prisoner writes: “I think the audience enjoy it, but they can’t get over an almost religious respect for William Shakespeare; they sit and chuckle, refuse to applaud the songs and afterwards tell one that they are coming to see it twice more. Very odd…”

On Tour

A corporal from Stalag 344E3 has written home to say that he is now at an entirely new place, 600 miles from his own camp. It appears that he is out on tour with one of their shows, Night Must Fall, which they are playing to prisoners who are not able to put on shows of their own. He added: “I am having some quite novel experiences. It is quite a change after four years in E3. You have probably read of the camp in the papers. It is a very nice place.”

Plenty of Entertainment

There is plenty of entertainment to be had at Stalag IVB and prisoners have a choice of going to the pantomime or the musical revue, listening to music, or reading, playing football or indoor games. At Christmas they produced a modern Nativity play, Christmas on the Green, which, in the words of one prisoner, recalled “a beautiful Miracle play of the Middle Ages.” The pantomime started its run just after Christmas, following a musical revue, Springtime for Jennifer, which had been written by a prisoner and was “one of the best yet.”

English football enthusiasts at the same camp are feeling very pleased with themselves because England recently beat Wales 3-0.

Another prisoner who wrote home is more enthusiastic about music. He writes: “Bolt, who recently gave the Unfinished, Rosamunde, Ballet and Gluck-Motte Suite, has thrilled us with Beethoven (Ind. Sy. Fidelio, Egmont and that exquisite poem Romance in F). The orchestra of 45 men is international and now plays finely. A young Warsaw violinist gave a sensitive rendering.”

Prisoner Playwright

As a pleasant reversal of the usual conditions, it is interesting to be able to record that a prisoner of war in Germany was able to bring laughter and joy to a large number of people in England this Christmas. L/Sgt. Derek C. Lunn, a prisoner since Dunkirk and now at Stalag 357 (22), was asked by his fiancée in Woking to send her something for her Girl Guides to perform. He forwarded a delightful outline of a pantomime, which, being too ambitious for her small company, was taken up by the local Commissioner. A treatment was worked out by an amateur playwright in the neighbourhood, and four performances were played to crowded houses.

The net result was a cheque for £100 being handed over to the Y.W.C.A. Appeal Fund, and the pantomime has been so successful that hundreds of would-be spectators who were unable to secure tickets have insisted on further performances in the near future. The whole of the cast, comprising Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Sea Rangers, signed a special letter of thanks to the author.

Indoor Games

At this time of year indoor games and recreation are naturally very popular. In Stalag IVB they organise quiz shows, and entertainments and lectures as well as all the usual indoor sports. Before the prisoners at Stalag Luft III were moved to the south-west, the camp had for a time a special entertainments section, with provision for lectures and classes. The most popular were those in French, German and shorthand.

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 5

Escaped Prisoners Reach Italy


Official Red Cross Correspondent, Describes Their Reception There

[Photograph of a line of men peeping out from washing cubicles] Hot showers are enjoyed by all.

ONE Belgian and thirteen British soldiers who had escaped from German prison camps reached Italy at the end of December. Several of them had been prisoners of war since 1940, when they were captured defending Metz during the Battle of France.

Private J. Creighton, whose home is in Sligo, Eire, was one of those taken at Metz. After a long period in prison in German Occupied France, he managed to break out and reach Switzerland. Then, when the American Army invaded Southern France and advanced to the Swiss border, he crossed the frontier and joined them.

Private William Powell, who comes from Sydney, Australia, told me that he had been on the run in Northern Italy for many months after escaping from a German prison camp. After many adventures he made his way through the enemy’s lines into Allied territory.

Upon arrival at a special reception camp in Southern Italy each man received a hot meal and a comfortable bed. Next morning after breakfast, which was served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., the new arrivals had to report at the reception office and fill in forms giving full particulars about themselves and their movements. Then they went to the disrobing-room and removed their somewhat heterogeneous collection of garments, which were taken away for disinfestation whilst the men themselves enjoyed hot showers. This was followed by medical inspection and injections, and a full issue of fresh clothing from the Quartermaster.

Called on the Red Cross

Dressed in their new outfits, the men called at the British Red Cross store, where an officer of the War Organisation presented each with a Red Cross “Glory Bag” containing various toilet necessities, writing-paper, etc.

The men had next to be interrogated by officials of the Security Department, who checked their credentials and established their identity; after this they received their first pay as free citizens – a memorable occasion they will not easily forget.

Whilst awaiting repatriation to their homes the men are at liberty to enjoy all the amenities of the reception camp; their only fatigue, if it can be called such, is attendance at one parade daily to answer to their names at roll-call.

Three times a week a cinema performance is given at the camp. In charge of the large and well-equipped club room, with its billiard and ping-pong tables, dart-boards, and E.F.I. canteen, are two English ladies, members of the W.V.S. One is Mrs. Dimbleby, mother of the well-known broadcaster.

The days of waiting need not be spent in idle leisure only, for a fatherly War Office has provided the facilities of a warrant officer’s education for those desiring to avail themselves of the opportunity of hearing lectures, studying maps, joining in discussions of topical interest, and making use of the well-stocked library.

From the Folks at Home

The British Red Cross Welfare Officer attached to the camp has been largely responsible for equipping the sick bay and small chapel. She made the altar-cloth in the chapel herself, and on her orders local craftsmen executed the wooden crucifix and candlesticks.

Gifts of the British Red Cross in the sick bay are the cheerful looking yellow counterpanes, hiding drab Army blankets; and the bright curtains at the windows, which give the plain flambo hut a more homely appearance. The wireless set, gramophone, easy chairs, hot-water bottles, bedrests, rugs, heating stoves, flower vases, games, etc., which do so much to ease and cheer sick men who have known little comfort or happiness during long years of captivity, were all bought with those pennies subscribed each week by the folks at home.

“When you write your report there is one thing I would like you to be sure to mention,” the Camp Commandant said to me before I left; “and that is, that every man who comes to this camp tells me he would not be alive if it had not been for the British Red Cross food parcels which he received whilst a prisoner.”

I can report how Red Cross money is being spent, but if only subscribers at home could actually see the use to which their gifts are put, then they would be amply repaid for what they have given. It is not only the material contributed, but the spirit of remembrance and gratitude of the giver, which means so much to men in exile. As Sir Walter Scott wrote:-

“It is the secret sympathy,
The silver link, the silken tie,
Which heart to heart and mind to mind,
In body and soul can bind.”

When the “cease fire” sounds, and all prison gates open, the still captive comrades of these men will return to a changed world; but not, one hopes, to a world in which people will easily forget their sacrifice and their suffering.

[Photograph of people gathered around a fireplace] The first real rest in years.

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6 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945


[Photograph of a large building by a bridge over water] BESIDE THE STILL WATERS. View of Oflag IXA/H.


This is the new name for the transit camp in German-occupied Italy, formerly known as Stalag 337. The camp is intended to serve as a transit camp for prisoners captured on the Italian front while awaiting transfer to Germany. As a rule prisoners are here only two or three days, but lately, owing to the bombing of communications and transport, prisoners have been kept two or three weeks. On the day of visit there were 321 British and 95 American prisoners of war in this camp.

The camp is situated on the outskirts of Mantua, near the Lake Inferiore. Four large buildings and an old garage have been converted and made habitable, two are used as dormitories, one is reserved for stores, and the fourth is used for workshops, showers, etc. A kitchen has been installed in the middle of the camp and underground there is an air raid shelter to hold 500 prisoners.

The dormitories are not heated and are well aired. The temperature is at present adequate. Each prisoner has three blankets. The beds are the two-tier type. There is practically no lighting in the camp.

There is a large washhouse with running water. Fifteen shower-baths have been installed, but there is no hot water. The prisoners receive soap. The kitchen is run by a German N.C.O. helped by six prisoners. The food was not plentiful, but appeared sufficient. Supplementary rations are provided for prisoners who work. It has not been possible to install a canteen in the camp. There is a shortage of clothing.

Medical treatment is available at the neighbouring hospital, where the prisoners can also have dental and eye treatment. There is no British chaplain.

The prisoners are entitled to send a postcard to their next of kin as soon as they arrive in the camp. Permanent staff may write every week.

There is a library of 350 English books, and the prisoners have supplies of games and playing cards.

(Visited November, 1944.)


Upper Camp

28 newly captured officers had arrived from the Western front, making a total of 185 officers and 36 other ranks.

Interior arrangements are adequate at the moment, but it is feared that if many more prisoners arrive from the Western front the dormitories will be overcrowded. This will also apply to the library and recreational rooms.

All the Roman Catholic prisoners of war have been moved to Oflag IXA/Z, since there is no priest in this camp.

Recreational facilities are satisfactory. Walks are organised twice a week.

Lower Camp

Total strength on day of visit was 210 officers and 34 other ranks.

The situation with regard to overcrowding was the same here as in the Upper Camp. Many dormitories are already very full. If many new captures are sent to this camp the overcrowding is likely to be serious.

The central heating will be out of use when the present stock of coke is exhausted. It is hoped that further supplies will be forthcoming, this being a camp for senior officers, the average age being 43 years.

Recreational facilities are well organised. The prisoners go for two walks each week and in addition parties go out of the camp nearly every day to collect wood.

Mail is stated to be very good. Letters from England arrive within two or three weeks.

The general impression from both the Lower and Upper Camps is that at present conditions are fairly satisfactory; but it is the future which causes anxiety, in that if there is to be a large increase of officers, both camps will be seriously overcrowded and the existing facilities such as heating, lighting, water supply, and sanitation, will be unable to stand the increased burden.

(Visited November, 1944.)


Total strength 405 officers and 56 other ranks.

Interior arrangements are satisfactory at the moment, but an increase in the camp strength is expected, which will cause overcrowding.

[Photograph of a group of men in uniform outside] CAPTIVE BUT NOT DOWNHEARTED. A smiling group of men at Stalag IVF.

There has been no improvement in the lighting of the camp, and if extra lighting is to be given to the recreational rooms it will be necessary to reduce the lighting in some of the other rooms. Central heating is at present only available for a few hours in the evenings. The shortage of coal, owing to transport difficulties, is current throughout Germany, and it was considered unlikely that the full scale of coal could be delivered before the winter. The officers are allowed to go out most days to collect wood.

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 7

from the Camps

[Boxed] In every case where the 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. [/boxed]

Owing to the shortage of coal, hot showers are available only once a fortnight, and the prisoners are only able to have a hot evening meal four times a week.

Nearly 300 prisoners have been inoculated against typhus, with anti-typhoid inoculations to follow. German supplies of drugs and medicines are now better, but most of the supplies are received from Red Cross sources.

There are three chaplains at the camp – one Church of England, one Roman Catholic, and one Baptist.

The spirit in the camp is high, and it is hoped that there will be no considerable increase in the number of prisoners, since the existing facilities are likely to prove inadequate.

(Visited November, 1944.)

Dependent in STALAG IVF

No. Z128, Marienthal. – 20 prisoners of war work in a tramway factory 10 hours daily. Sunday is generally free.

The only complaint is a lack of working gloves, which the Germans promised to provide.

9 British prisoners at W123, Bogenstein, are employed digging air raid shelters for 55 hours weekly. Sundays are free.

[Photograph of group of men] HOLD IT NOW! Members of a working party at Stalag IVG pose for their photograph to be taken.

[Drawing of a large building OFLAG IX AZ. Germany] LAST CHRISTMAS IN GERMANY? A sketch of Oflag IXA/Z drawn by a senior British officer, and sent as a Christmas card to the Red Cross.

There were no complaints at Detachment No. Z15, Suedkapmfbahn, where 97 prisoners of war are engaged on various maintenance jobs for nine hours daily.

No. G168, Glauchau. – This camp is housed in a large wooden barrack and has good air-raid shelters. There are 26 British prisoners of war employed in an artificial wood factory for 60 hours a week, with Sundays generally free. There are four sleeping rooms with a separate dining room and a separate room for the medical orderly and the cook. There are sufficient tables and chairs. Some of the roofs leak. Each prisoner has two blankets.

The washing facilities are adequate and the prisoners can have a hot shower each week in the factory. There is a small library in the camp, also a gramophone. Prisoners are able to play football.

Detachment No. L106, Loessnitz. – The 58 British prisoners of war in this detachment live in a two-storied stone building near a small village. There are no air-raid shelters in the camp, but there are good shelters at the factory where the prisoners are employed manufacturing cotton for 60 hours a week. Sunday is generally free.

Interior arrangements are adequate. There are two sleeping rooms. Lighting and heating are in order. Every prisoner has two blankets. Hot showers are available at any time in the factory. The prisoners of war have their own cook. Prisoners do their own laundry, but the soap is said to be insufficient.

Detachment No. 87, Oberstuetzengruen. – 53 British prisoners work 60 hours weekly loading and unloading wood. Every third Sunday is free.

The prisoners have only been having a hot shower once every fortnight. In future they will be able to have one every week. The 191 British prisoners of war in Detachment No. 104, Kohlenschacht Lugau had no complaints. They work eight to nine hours daily on the surface of a coal mine and every second Sunday is free.

At Detachment No. 129, Rachau, 20 British prisoners of war work in a paper factory. The hours are 60 a week with Sunday generally free. The 16 prisoners at No. A13, Lindengarten, work for the German Red Cross eight to nine hours a day, and had no complaints.

There were no complaints at the following detachments:-

No. 149, Wuestembrad, where 18 British prisoners of war work for 8 1/2 hours a day at digging air-raid shelters; at No. C89, Neemestrasse, where 24 British prisoners of war work at load-

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8 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

ing and unloading glass for nine hours a day; and at No. C104, Limbacherstrasse, where 7 British prisoners of war are employed in a brickworks for 9 1/2 hours a day.

(Visited November, 1944.)


On the day of the visit there were 41 British and 38 American patients in this hospital. There are two British medical officer and four British medical orderlies on the staff of the hospital. There were no complaints on either the conditions or the treatment at this hospital.

The drug supply is in order, and there was a good stock of medicaments. Dental treatment is done by a French dentist and is reported to be satisfactory.

(Visited November, 1944.)

Dependent on STALAG IVG

The delegate only visited a few working detachments, but met most of the district Men of Confidence.

District Leipzig East. – There are 971 British prisoners of war in 11 detachments. The Men of Confidence had no serious complaints.

District Leipzig Nord. – 344 British prisoners of war in five working detachments. The only complaint was that in this district all stocks of Red Cross parcels have been moved outside the camps and the keys not given to the Men of Confidence.

District Leipzig West. – 497 British prisoners of war in seven working detachments. Here again the Men of Confidence complained that stocks of Red Cross parcels are inaccessible. Arrangements will be made to secure more store-rooms.

District Espenhain. – 500 British prisoners of war in three working detachments. The chief complaint was that there was a French doctor in charge of the prisoners who does not speak English. As it will hardly be possible to get a British medical officer to this area, arrangements will be made to secure an interpreter.

[Photograph of five men in uniform] RED CROSS STAFF AT STALAG IVG, where the general health of prisoners is reported to be good.

District Grimma. – 368 British prisoners of war in six working detachments. There were no complaints.

District Wurzer. – 533 British prisoners of war in ten detachments. There were no serious complaints.

District Borna. – 266 British prisoners of war in five detachments. The only complaint was that at Detachment No. 102, Bad Lausick, the men had been unable to play football although there is a good sports field at their disposal. It was agreed that prisoners will again be allowed to play football on their free Sundays.

Detachment No. 654, Coswig. – 26 British prisoners of war are employed 65 hours a week in workshops and had no complaints about working conditions. There was no Sunday work.

The prisoners are well accommodated in a large barrack with two sleeping rooms. Lighting and heating are satisfactory. There are adequate air-raid shelters. The clothing position is bad in this camp. The laundry has to be sent out to a German firm, who often lose the prisoners’ garments. Medical attention is good.

Detachment No. 434, Grossteinberg. – 79 British prisoners of war work in a stone quarry for nine hours a day. Prisoners work one Sunday in each month. The prisoners sleep on wooden three-tier beds and have two blankets each. Lighting and heating facilities are in order. Medical attention is satisfactory. The camp is visited regularly by a padre. There were no complaints.

Detachment No. 104, Rittmitz. – There are 41 British prisoners of war in this camp, some of whom work in a factory and the others in a stone quarry. There was no Sunday work. Living quarters in a stone building are adequately furnished with double-tier beds. Hot showers are available at the factory. A stove for cooking Red Cross food parcels was expected to arrive shortly. The general impression was that this was a fairly satisfactory camp.

(Visited November, 1944.)


This lazaret is attached to Stalag 398. It consists of several barracks forming part of a large compound housing foreign labourers engaged in a nearby ironworks at Pupping.

The hospital accommodates prisoners of any nationality. At the time of the visit there were 30 British prisoners, and 14 Americans for whom special rooms are reserved. These arrangements are considered satisfactory.

Clinical equipment is adequate. There is one British medical officer who is able to carry out any treatment required. The British medical staff work amicably with the German authorities. Cooking is done by foreign prisoner cooks and rations are considered to be very unsatisfactory. The chaplain from Stalag 398 pays regular visits to the hospital. There are sufficient recreational grounds within the compound.

(Visited November, 1944.)

Reports on Stalag IVG, Oshatz and IVF, Hartmannsdorf, will be found on page 16.

[Photograph of eleven men in uniform] BRITISH AND SOUTH AFRICAN Back Row, Left to Right: Bobs Tatham (Natal); Ned Sparks (Gt. Britain); Bob Cullen (Natal); Ronald Abbot (Cape Town); Geoffrey Reid (Cape Town). Front Row: Bobby Gain (Cape Town); Paddy Doyle (Gt. Britain); Neil Orpen (Cape Town); Billy Reynolds (Somerset West); Zander Dewar (Natal); Tony Burch (Uitenhage).

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 9

The Letters They Write Home

[Photograph of two men boxing, watched by a group of men] THE FIRST ROUND OPENS.- Men of a working party at Stalag XVIIA hold a boxing match in a wood.

Like Great-Grandmother’s

Oflag VIIB 26.12.44.

As by a German order all reserves of food in the camp must be consumed before new parcels are allowed in, everyone has had (and is having) a very well-fed time of it. I made a really excellent brawn from bully, meat roll and bacon, and Steve and I produced a Christmas cake which would not have made a bad show of it even in the presence of the genuine article á la Great-Grand-mother’s recipe!!

The ingredients may interest you: 1 small tin Horlick’s, 3 Canadian Red Cross biscuits ground to flour, egg powder, milk powder, bicarb. of soda, chopped raisins and apricots, and prune kernels and hazel nuts, butter, sugar.

Officers made toys, which were auctioned and the money and toys are to go to the Ilags for the children, mostly from the Channel Islands.

We had an old time Boxing Booth á la Sanger. They produced an excellent Christmas number of our magazine, with a ghost story and a new poem on Cheshire. Steve and I got up in darkness for the 7 a.m. service, and it was jolly cold, but we made it.

We are able to help the new boys out over food, and just at present there is plenty for all and the future will have to look after itself.

Carved Crib with Razor

Oflag V A. 27.12.44.

We have had days now of very hard frost; Christmas Day itself was beautifully sunny, clear and crisp, without a cloud all day. I managed to finish the crib I tried to make. It finally consisted of a very plain stable of cardboard, with a star over it, and inside Joseph, Mary and one shepherd. The Child was a vague head sticking out of a bundle of cloth in the manger-only just adequate-but Joseph was quite imposing with a green robe, and Mary was really very sweet, in blue, sitting on a stool, leaning forward to put a covering over the Child. The Shepherd, in what looked like a brown gym tunic, was kneeling at the other side. It was put in the chapel, and, I says it as should not, really looks very nice.

I really enjoyed carving the figures-though with nothing but a razor blade some bits were difficult, and, to begin with, my “anatomy” was bad - arms and legs would not come right.

I went to Mass at 7.30, when there were 140 there. At 9 o’clock there were twice as many.

We had a good breakfast in the mess (porridge, sausages, eggs and coffee), and later on an excellent lunch (meat pie, mashed potatoes, peas, trifle, cake and mincepie), complete with orchestra playing.

Christmas in Cookhouse

Stalag 383. 27.12.44.

Considering the circumstances, we had a very good Christmas as prisoners of war. Wacky and I spent Christmas Eve and Day with Dai (a sergeant in the Welsh Guards) who, being in charge of the soup kitchen, has a room in the cookhouse.

On Christmas Eve, we each had a litre or so of beer and a bit of a sing-song.

The following morning we started the day with an English breakfast (we managed to save a few tins during better times). Our dinner consisted of mashed and roast potatoes, peas, swede and roast meat, and followed by an excellent pudding (made with bread and raisins) with “Klim” washed down with a bottle of beer. I suppose the beer here is no stronger than it is at home nowadays.

We had a very nice cake for tea; Ivor spent a few hours endeavouring to give it the necessary seasonal appearance and finished up by having the words “A Merry Christmas” printed on the wrapper.

Imposing Little Ceremony

Stalag IVF. 6.11.44.

My last outing was on All Souls Day, when I went down to the hospital cemetery to attend a short memorial service conducted by the French chaplain. I went from there with the French and Belgian Men of Confidence, and the Italian chaplain, in the French Red Cross lorry.

A large contingent from the hospital marched down to the cemetery. After prayers the names of the prisoners of all nationalities who had died, were read out. Our senior doctor read the British names.

Then we went on to the civilian cemetery in the town, where other prisoners are buried, and the service was repeated. It was quite an imposing little ceremony.

A Pretty Decent Chap

Stalag IVD. 23.2.45.

This week has been a record for illness. We all have rotten colds – it has run all round the Stube – 40 of us. Tons of snow and very cold still. But hope you are free from colds yourself.

Still plenty of work and the hours are long. Am on night shift every other week on a metal press, Have a pretty decent chap in charge named Max, who has a bit of sympathy for us. No cigarettes or mail yet, but tell Hilda to get the baking pans ready as we are betting on seeing you in the near future.

Fire Fuhrer

Oflag VIIB. 1.1.45.

At present, as I am our room “fire fuhrer,” I seem to spend my entire days trying to make lumps of wood fit into our tiny stove, which won’t burn when we want to cook, and soars through anything when we try to damp it down.

It really isn’t fair, this business of ten officers living, sleeping, eating in the kitchen; or you might call it cooking, eating, living in one bedroom.

To-day I spent hammering old tins out flat and joining them together to make tops for cooking pots, my tool kit consisting of a rusty iron bar and a jagged knife. I get quite a bit of amusement out of it really.

To turn to a less squalid side of life, I’ve spent half to one hour daily, for the last week, on skates on the flooded hockey pitch.

News and Rumours

Stalag IVF. 29.10.44.

Most of our lads have just received their first personal parcels, and are they happy? Socks with the foot complete, shirts in one piece, and cigarettes are arriving as well. So just at a time

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10 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

when things looked black, owing to the food parcels being cut to one between two men, we are laughing again. It is good to see how everybody takes all hard knocks with a smile, and they are numerous these days.

You were asking in your letter, do we get news of the progress of the war? Yes; we hear and see enough to help us form opinions on what is happening. But genuine news is far outweighed by rumours, so we have to sort it out.

I notice you have not been able to make any plans for the post-war. I believe that applies to most of us. I often think of the worry ahead for all of us. What a splendid opportunity for all to make a great effort to create a better standard of living in Europe. Nobody should go short of food after six years of suffering. May we be able to give the lead to other nations. I am continuing my letter on another card.

Arguments and Discussions

Stalag 357. 5.11.44.

The location of this new 357 is quite good, being on grass this time, and down the side of a real Scottish wood. There are about 6,500 men here, mixed R.A.F. and Army and all nationalities, so arguments and discussions are many and varied. We have electric light installed, and now have a hot plate in each hut.

Lights were out again last night at 7 p.m., so we had an evening’s community singing with all sorts of songs and stories. An Aussie in the bed above me is pretty good!

I have been issued with a pair of new boots and a French great coat, so am now well equipped.

Making a Start

Stalag 357. 20.9.44.

We are gradually organising our social life in this new camp. The library has opened and once again I spend a few hours in it every day. For sport we have football, rugby, cricket and racing.

It should not be long before the school is open and then I will be able to resume my studies.

Saw Volkssturm Practicing

Stalag IVB. 1.12.44.

Seeing the Volkssturm practicing on the range near the camp on Sundays is just like seeing the Home Guard at home.

To-night I saw at the theatre Springtime for Jennifer; these productions are excellent and amazing.

The editor of New Times, the paper for

[Photograph of a group of people performing a play] CLOTHES AND THE MAN.- An Able Seaman gives a realistic rendering of Lady Bowden during a theatrical performance at Stalag 344.

4,000 English-speaking prisoners, has asked me to join the editorial board and contribute regularly, so I am not out of touch with my life as it was and as it will be.

Each day I cook our two meals for my “mucker” and myself and I am modestly an increasingly good cook. You would be amazed to see me in my skyblue French overcoat, maroon beret, et.

Midnight Parade

Stalag XIA. 25.12.44.

Christmas Day here was really quite amazing. All the boys have entered into the spirit of things and are


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 piece 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 prices and fees is defrayed by a generous friend of the Red Cross and St. John War Organisation. [/boxed]

determined to have as merry a time as possible. On Christmas Eve we had a carol service complete with orchestra and choir. After that we had a concert in our room, and finished up by parading round the other rooms at midnight singing at the tops of our voices.

The following morning at 6 o’clock they had their own back by waking us with a fanfare of trumpets, trombones, drums, etc.

Our Christmas dinner was a great achievement; we had saved some stuff from our parcels and made a big pudding for sixteen of us, and our three-tier cake was the talk of the camp.

We are all feeling a little uncomfortable now, but nevertheless contented. We toasted you all after dinner (in tea) and feel sure we will be with you soon.

New Arrivals

Biberach. 26.11.44.

We have quite a mixed crowd of people in the camp, including about 140 (men, women and children) who arrived recently. Special arrangements had to be made on their arrival, and they are now getting more settles down. The women are up fairly early in the morning, and soon the lines outside their barracks are full of washing.

We now have 84 persons in our barrack with none in hospital. There are 17 in our room.

The hospital and Red Cross staff have had a little more to do lately, and have done it well. About 2,000 Red Cross parcels arrived here recently, and are very welcome.

Nearly a Black Christmas

Stalag IVD. 26.12.44.

It looked like being a black Christmas for us here with no parcels, but on Christmas Eve the works foreman came in dressed as Father Christmas and brought good news. Parcels were at the distributing centre and he had been able to make arrangements for collecting them on Christmas morning. After that the band got going with a swing and the dance was on.

On Christmas morning we went to the pictures. The big picture was an ice skating film and was very good. Also news and a short picture taken in Salzburg area. Going again on New Year’s Day, the picture being a circus film, which should be good.

It has been very cold all the holiday – well below freezing point. Start work again tomorrow.

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 11

“Rookery Nook” at Stalag XXA

[Group of three photographs of a number of players in stage production]

GERALD: “She’s just a sweet, innocent little girl.”

Putz leaves in a nasty rage.

Clive and Gerald tell Twine to get Rona’s clothes from the German.

The well-known play Rookery Nook was first produced in London many years ago when Ralph Lynn, Tom Walls and Robertson Hare played the original parts. Since then, it has been revived by many theatrical companies, including those in prisoner of war camps, and is a favourite everywhere.

The theme of the play is a matrimonial muddle at a country house, and as the scenes shown here were not marked on these photographs from Germany, we asked Mr. Ralph Lynn to caption them. In returning them, he says, “I think they have done wonders by the photographs. God bless them, and good luck to them all.”

LETTERS (Continued from previous page)

Table Bombs

Stalag XIA. 25.12.44.

To-day we put on the best show for the camp at 10 o’clock until 12 mid-day. We all put our iced cakes and puddings on show and all down the centre of the room on the decorated tables were paper flowers and table bombs. They really looked well. Mind you the inscriptions would not pass the censor, but none the less for all that we enjoyed it.

The table bombs gave us all enough hats and flags for the room. To-morrow I have to arrange, by way of entertainment, a mock trial for some unfortunate individual. For all this good food and so on we have to give our thanks to the Red Cross.

A Wizard Day

Stalag Luft III 26.12.44.

We had an absolute wizard day yesterday, which I shall always remember as one, I think, of the best in my life. After ten weeks of pretty lean diet on half parcels, a consignment of American Christmas parcels arrived, and from them we enjoyed, among many good things, turkey and Christmas puddings which were the last word.

One fellow from our room has cooking right at his finger tips, and we were supplied through the day with an assortment of eats which, in my opinion, would have graced with distinction the tables of a Royal household! We have plenty left over for to-day and the New Year, which includes a 16lb. cake untouched from yesterday.

Excuse all this talk about food, but here at times it is an interesting topic.

3,000 Feet Up

Stalag XVIIB. B.H.V.101. 3.12.44.

The snow I wrote about went away, but to-day it is snowing again. This time we want it for the sleighs to get in the winter firewood. The Austrians tell us that they get snowed up here.

We are 3,000 feet up the mountains. One place where we have been working is higher still. On a clear day we can see the Alps in the distance.

I shall soon be a Jack of all trades. We have been chaff-cutting on a motor saw, laying floorlogs, forestry and roadmaking – a bit of everything. I am keeping fine despite all.

We have a cat that catches the rats; it is hard to feed her these days.

Bit of a Miner

Stalag IVD. 25.12.44.

I have now changed my kommando and am no longer at the sugar factory, but am a bit of a miner. The work is hard, but I am used to that, as you know. Work makes the time pass more quickly.

This Stalag is very well organised, which is a great asset. Last night they held a dance which was a “wow.” You would be surprised to see what wonderful looking girls some of the chaps turned out to be. Went for a laugh and I certainly had it.

To-day we went to a service, and although it was only held in a hut it was as impressive as any held in a church.

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12 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

[Boxed] 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. [/boxed]

MR. PAYNE, of “The Crown and Anchor,” Gallows Tree Common, near Reading, has collected £33 7s. from a sale of goods given by his customers, which he forwards with the comment: “It is only a little, but I must thank you for the Red Cross parcels received by my son who is a prisoner of war in Germany.”

With the help of friends Mrs. Agnew has collected £94 7s. 6d. in Jarrow, also for food parcels.

Mrs. Kellow, who writes from Liskeard that she has recently had two cheerful letters from her nephew in Stalag XIA, sends £3, and a total of £15 is reached by a fifth contribution from Mrs. Millard, Risca, Monmouthshire. On behalf of his staff at Llantwit Major, W/O A.S. Hamblin has forwarded £20.

Father Helps Son

A further donation of £5 17s. 6d. has been received from the staff of Nicholl’s Stores, Kensington, and the staff of 50 at Messrs. R.W. Greff and Company of Bishop’s Stortford, who have two colleagues prisoners of war, one in Europe and the other in the Far East, have raised the sum of £112, an increase of £2 on the total for the previous year and the result of the sale of their handwork and toy making.

“Friends at Electra House, London,” have been keeping their eye “on the ball,” and over £2,000 has been collected in sixpences during the past eighteen months or so, and they give us the following “crazy” figures realised from other recent efforts:-

A dart-board … £15
Three fruit cakes … £13
A portable gramophone and tennis racquet … £55
A trug of fresh fruit … £22
Bunches of cut flowers per bunch … £4
Shell eggs … £1 a piece!

Nat Gonella, the ace trumpeter, and the dance band of the Royal Tank Regiment were the star attractions at a ball and cabaret held in the Bournemouth Town Hall, which resulted in £71 15s. 8d. being raised for prisoners of war. Mr. Leo Wells, the promoter, has a son who is a prisoner of war and writes that he is already organising another ball which promises to be an even greater success.

Another successful dance, organised by the Aeronautical Inspection Department, raising £170 17s. 4d. took place at the Co-operative Hall, Nottingham.

Jean Medlock and some of her friends at Shefford, all nine years old, wrote and performed a play, and from the entrance fee of 1d. per person were able to send 5s. Rita Burgess of Luton, who is also nine, has given a second donation, mentioning that she is knitting mittens from the pattern published in the journal, for her father, who is a prisoner of war.

Prisoner Wins Prize

Half of the proceeds of three plays presented by the Upper Killay Young People’s Dramatic Society have been devoted to the Red Cross, and the carols of the Wantage Rangers profited the fund by £1. £2 in Victoria pennies has been saved by Jean Rome, Dunstable, and the combined efforts of the Parsons, Jones and West families at Tirphil, New Tredegar, in collecting threepenny pieces have produced £5.

The East Wales v. West Wales Secondary Schools Union rugby match, which was played on the Gnoll Ground, Neath, was the means of raising £192 1s. 4d., which is a particularly fine result, as the match had to be postponed on the first date arranged because of bad weather.

The two organisers of the Blaenclydach and District Prisoners of War Fund arranged a competition which brought in £120. The prizes were donated by Miss Thomas, Tonypandy, and one of the winners was previously a prisoner of war in Italy.

Gave Own Coupons

A courageous helper is Mrs. Futcher, of Catford, who is 87, who through physical disability can seldom go out of doors, and then only in a wheel-chair. Mrs. Futcher gave her first donation in March, 1942, and has now contributed £42 earned from the sale of kettle-holders at 6d. each, and towels purchased with her own coupons which she converted into face cloths.

Mrs. Say, of Marlborough, has sent in £1 10s., which she writes, “is the result of turning out sundry small things which have been put out of sight. A lot of people perhaps would like to follow suit.” Domino tournaments and competitions run by Mr. A. Garrett, of Hedge End, near Southampton, have produced the splendid figure of £115, while patrons of the Mansfield Hotel, Hove, have raised more than £500 over fifteen months and are aiming at £1,000.

By January 31st, 1945, expenditure and allocations to p.o.w.’s food and comforts had reached £15,511,000.

[Picture of a cherub] [Underlined] Our Gift. £51 * 10 * 0. [/underlined]

[Picture of a candle] [Underlined] To Prisoners of War [/underlined] 22nd. Dec. 1944.

Accept this our donation for the Prisoners of War.
Made by the sale on calendars and Xmas cards galore,
We are but five young tracers and we’ve made our own design
And printed by all by hand a thousand cards without a whine.
Individually each card is made, no copying, no stencil,
A box of paints, a brush, a drawing pen, and just a pencil.
Altho’ the work entailed has used up nearly all our leisure,
We wish to state emphatically it’s been the greatest pleasure
And tho’ we’ve sometimes floundered when we’re making up our rhyme
Each card has its appropriate verse, and is dispatched in time.
So to conclude we send to you the best of Xmas cheer,
And may the boys look forward to a happier New Year.

[Underlined] From – [/underlined] [Signatures]

Surveyors’ Dept., P.D.Ltd., Ystrad Mynach, Glam. [Drawing of a duck]

Five young tracers of Messrs. Powell Dufftyn of Ystrad Mynach, sent the above poem with a donation to the Penny-a-Week Fund.

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 13

Prisoner of War Artists

[Drawing of a man carrying a full load of kit] Packed and Ready! A cartoon sent home as a postcard to his wife by Corporal Harold Coulter.

[Drawing of a country scene] A view seen looking north from an Oflag theatre painted by Major W.F. Anderson.

[Drawing of Pinocchio] Pinocchio was painted by Warrant Officer Gordon C.G. Hawkins and sent home from Germany as a birthday card for his small son Richard.

[Drawing of a bed with associated furniture] A corner of the hospital was the subject of a first attempt at a pen and ink sketch made by Captain Robert Ferguson who has taken up drawing and painting as a winter occupation.

[Drawing of a cartoon rabbit] ‘Pooky Rabbit was crayoned in bright colours for Richard by his father, Warrant Officer Gordon C.G. Hawkins.

[Drawing of men walking inside a barbed wire area, with look-out post] A barbed-wire view painted by Lieutenant Worsley, official Naval war artist.

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14 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

Examination Successes

Since the beginning of the year over a thousand examination scripts have reached the Educational Books Section from camps in Germany. Many more are arriving almost daily and are being forwarded to the examining bodies concerned for correction. It is very encouraging to have this evidence that the autumn and winter examinations have been able to be held before the break-up and dispersal of some of the camps owing to the Russian advance.

Applications for future examinations are also coming in in great numbers: as one camp leader says of the men in his camp, “Will their keenness never flag?” and it does not look as if it will, as since the New Year nearly 1,200 examination entries have been received.

More than one camp education officer has written about the difficulties under which the examinations have been taken, e.g., intense cold, interruptions due to air-raid alarms, shortage of stationery, etc. We have every reason to be proud of the men who can work and study in such conditions.

New Pass List Ready

The most recent edition of the pass list giving the examination results for July to December, 1944, is now available. Copies are obtainable on application to the Educational Books Section at the New Bodleian, Oxford, 3d. in stamps should be sent with the application.

Some copies of previous lists are also still available (July to December, 1943, and January to June, 1944).

News From Camps

Lieut. D.C. Crichton has been elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the results of the examination which he took in camp last year.

A Canadian flight lieutenant, J.P. Gofton, has been credited with written papers in chemistry and biology towards a medical degree at the University of Manitoba. He took papers in these subjects in the first M.B. examinations of the University of London under a special arrangement whereby members of the United Nations may take the London examinations for the purpose of obtaining credits in the equivalent examinations in their own countries.

Two prisoners of war have passed the Final Examinations of their respective professions, viz., Lieut. E.S. Bell, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and Sgt. R.C. MacKenzie, the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants.

Another accountant prisoner of war, Sgt. P.C.G. Montgomery, has passed the First Division of the Final Examination of the Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

Lieut. A.H. Eagles, who passed the Associate Membership Examination of the Institution of Sanitary Engineers last year, has been elected as an Associate Member of the Institution.

One civilian internee in Ilag Kreuzburg has passed the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English examination, and three in the same camp have passed the Lower Certificate.

Lieut. G.C. Sunley has passed the examination for the Certificate in Russian of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

A corporal who passed the written papers for the City and Guilds of London Institute examination in Gas Fitting in Stalag XXA in 1942 has now been repatriated, and has applied to take the practical part of the examination. Arrangements are being made for him to do so.


[Table of numbers of candidates applying for and taking examinations, with numbers of results from December 1942 to February 1945]


Proportion of total successes for results published during February: 82 per cent.

OFLAG 79 – Described by a Repatriate

OFLAG 79 was previously used by the Germans as a Luftwaffe Cadet School, and in consequence the fittings, buildings, sanitation etc., are of a higher standard than one expects to find in a normal Oflag. There are seven double-storey buildings in the camp, which are sub-divided into small rooms accommodating anything from six to fifteen persons. The centre of the camp has a large pine-grove, which helps to break the monotonous barbed wire outlook. The inside perimeter wire is about a mile in circumference, so really one need not suffer from lack of exercise.

The camp is not actually in Brunswick, but is situated in a small village about 5 kilometres east of the town. The village is called Braunschweig Querem.

The German rations were not good. The sole diet, with a few exceptions, was black bread and potatoes. Occasionally vegetable soup, millet and fresh meat were issued, and once weekly a small ration of ersatz margarine, sugar, jam, coffee and tea.

This diet, of course, would have been almost impossible without the aid of the Red Cross food parcels which were issued to us weekly. I really feel that one cannot do enough to help the Red Cross in the wonderful work.

The chaps in the camp have things fairly well organised. When I left they had the theatre going with a new play every week. The junior University – covering almost every subject under the sun – was operating very efficiently. The camp library (most of the books from private parcels) was fairly well stocked, and the indoor and outdoor games were going strong.

The treatment from the Germans was not bad, and I personally have not witnessed any individual acts of cruelty.


NOTE: This account was written by an officer p.o.w. repatriated in the Autumn of 1944 and therefore describes conditions at the time he left Germany.

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APRIL, 1945 The Prisoner of War 15

An All Purpose Pullover


[Photograph of a man wearing uniform and a pullover]

[Instructions for making a pullover]

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16 The Prisoner of War APRIL, 1945

New Film on Loan

A NEW film entitled “Prisoner of War,” compiled for the British Red Cross and St. John by the Gaumont British Picture Corporation Ltd., with commentary by Mr. F.V.H. Emmett, is available free of charge, for private or public display.

The film is 35 mm. size, one reel, with sound recording, and takes ten minutes to run. It is the story of a man captured in Europe and records various incidents which occur during his sojourn in enemy hands.

Applications to borrow Prisoner of War must be made at least two weeks before the date fixed for showing.

Private individuals should apply to:- The Central Film Library, Imperial Institute, South Kensington, London, S.W.7, and pay return carriage.

Professional requests should be sent to:- The Publicity Department, Red Cross and St. John War Organisation, 24, Carlton House Terrace, London, S.W.1.

Please Note

Owing to urgent last minute alterations at the time of going to Press, three errors were made in the camp names in the March issue of “The Prisoner of War.” On page 2, in the article Transport of Food Parcels, Oflag VIIIB should have read Oflag VIIB. On page 16, in the first paragraph of Camp Transfers, Stalag IV should have read Stalag Luft IV; and in the notice Parcels, Luft VIII should have read Luft VII.


(Continued from page 8)


The main camp was not visited, there being only 19 British prisoners on the permanent staff. There are 64 British working detachments in the Stalag area containing 4,055 British prisoners of war.

The three British medical officers in the Stalag area reported that the general state of health is good. Dental treatment is done by local dentists and is satisfactory.


There are only 27 prisoners of war in the main Stalag. The total number dependent on the Stalag is 5,524 British and American prisoners of war, who are dispersed in 95 labour detachments. Interior arrangements in the main Stalag are good and there were no complaints.


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. [/boxed]

Camp Transfers


(Red Cross Map Reference Shown in Brackets)


Stalag IIB March 10th Marching to west part of Wehrkreis II (3D/E).

Stalag IID March 10th Marching to west part of Wehrkreis II (3D/E).

Stalag IIIB March 10th At Maerkisch Reitz (E.4).

Stalag IIIC March 10th At Seefeld, near Werneuschin (E.4).

Stalag 344 Feb 27th Teplitz Schonau being used as assembly point (E.6).

[Stalag 344] March 7th 4,000 British and American sick journeying by rail to:

Stalag XIB – Fallingbostel (C.4).
Stalag XIIIC – Hamelburg (C.7).
Stalag VIIA – Moosburg (D.8).
Stalag IXB – Wegscheid Badorb (C.6).

Stalag VIIIA March 9th Head of southern group (marching towards Nuremburg) east of Jena (D.6). Sick prisoners and British Medical Officers remained at Gorlitz (F.5).

Stalag VIIIB March 7th Advance groups at Rakonitz (E.7). Rear groups at Melnik (F.6).

Stalag VIIIC March 9th Head of northern group (moving towards Hanover) west of Soemmerda (D.5). Head of southern group (moving towards Cassel) near Gersund, west of Eisenach (C.6).

Stalag XXA Feb. 25th Prisoners collected in Uckermark region (E.3) and moving westwards.

Stalag XXB Feb. 21st Near Malchin and Tetorow (E.3) and moving westwards.

Stalag Luft III Feb. 23rd Prisoners transferred to S.E. region of province of Oldenburg (B.4), Stalag IIIA Luckenwalde (E.5) and other camps (see March Journal)

[Stalag Luft III] March 7th 480 sick left at Sagan (F.5).

Stalag Luft IV March 10th 1,500 British and U.S. prisoners are proceeding to Stalag Luft I, Barth (E.2). 1,550 British and U.S. prisoners proceeding to Nuremburg [missing reference]. 3,600 British and U.S. prisoners proceeding to Stalag XIB (C.4) and Stalag 357, Fallingbostel (C.4).

Stalag Luft VII Feb. 20th Reported at Stalag IIIA, Luckenwalde (E.5).


THE Postmaster General announces that in the present phase of the war, transport conditions make it difficult to forward next-of-kin and permit parcels to prisoners of war in Germany.

Although, therefore, it is hoped that it may be possible to forward some, or all, of the present accumulation of these parcels to destination, it is necessary to suspend further posting of next-of-kin and permit parcels for the present.

Labels and Coupons

No more labels and coupons will be issued for the present. This applies to first and later issues.

Next of kin and acting next of kin (including county branches, associations and packing centres) are asked particularly not to return issues already in their possession, but to keep them until further notice. Parcels partially prepared should also be kept intact with any remaining unused coupons.

The Red Cross will repack and hand over to the G.P.O. any parcels received at the Packing Centres at Finsbury Circus or Glasgow, which were posted before the G.P.O. announcement was made.


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. [/boxed]

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, S.E.1.



Great Britain. Red Cross and St John war organisation. Prisoners of war department, “The Prisoner of War, April 1945,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 13, 2024,

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