Letter from Commander Jessel



Letter from Commander Jessel


Letter of thanks to families for food parcels etc, plus detailed description of Laghuoat prisoner of war camp and surrounding area. Mentions they were allowed out twice week to walk in the desert and obtaining a few items through a local agent. Discusses provision of lavatories, shortage of water and problems getting clothing parcels. Most likely written by Commander Jessel RN.
Additional information about this item was kindly provided by the donor.




Two page typewritten document


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





Letter of thanks to families for food parcels etc, plus detailed description of Laguoat POW camp and surrounding area. Most likely written by Commander Jessel RN

[page break]

For all the parcels and consignments of food, tobacco, clothing, books, medical stores, games and everything else you have sent us we are very very grateful. We also highly appreciate the valuable service you give us in maintaining contact with our next of kin and re-assuring anxious relations.

Several officers and men, however, have expressed surprise that their relatives have a completely erroneous idea of the conditions of our life here or of the privileges of an internee, and so I propose to give you a short description of the camp for use of your information bureau.

It consists of a four acre brabed wire enclosure in the interior of a military barracks surrounded by a high wall. The barracks is part of a small squalid Arab village built on a an oasis two square miles large, surrounded by hundreds of miles of Sahara desert. We are allowed out of our enclosure twice a week for a two hour walk in the desert; we are heavily guarded on these occasions. We live in barrack rooms specially designed for hot weather, but which are very cold in the winter. They are unheated and have stone floors. It is 2,000 feet above sea level, and at mid-winter the temperature is frequently below freezing point,and there are bitter winds.

There are one or two poor quality shops in the town, and once a month shopping is done through an agent. He is only able to get us a few articles such as stationary (nibs, ink drawing pins) combs, cigarette holders,etc,. Not only Langouat but all Algeria is devoid of all material. One cannot buy china or glass, clothing or footwear. We have been unable to get a dish cloth and clean our dishes with sand or cut off the tails of a shirt. Reels of cotton, nails screws, etc, are unobtainable. The officers can buy a little wine and the men a few minerals. The food is the same as the French Army get. It is poor but sufficient in summer. That is what makes your food parcels so very popular.

With reference to your telegram dated 11th June, sufficient extra lavatories have now been put up and they are water flushed, or rather they are designed for water flushing; but the acute shortage of water in the oasis means that they get flushed only once a day, and are therefore not very sanitary. Dental and medical arrangements are good, except that the shortage of nearly [inserted] all [/inserted] forms of medical stores hamper efficiency.

I hope this gives a fair idea of the state of affairs. It would seem that people believe we are receiving similar treatment to the British internees in Holland, last war, but of course, this is definitely not the case. The following is an extract from a letter one of our officers received from his wife. “I have been seeing about your clothing parcel. I should have sent one three months ago but there has been a muddle about coupons. If you were in Germany or Italy, I should get 40 coupons once in three months in advance to get things for you. As you are an internee and are supposes [sic] to have privileges, I get none and have to deposit my own and then get them back when I take the garments……I cannot get “Service” issue of wool for you, as you are not a “prisoner”. Inbfact [sic], you are supposed

[page break]

2 continued..

by our Government to get privileges.”

Perhaps you could represent the matter in the right quarter.

Hope you will not mind this mild protest of mine.

Yours sincerely,

Commander, R.N.
Commanding Officer,
British Internees, Laghouat.

[inserted] G. Hudson. [/inserted]
[inserted] J. D. Hudson. [/inserted]
[inserted] J. D. Hudson. [/inserted]



Jessel, “Letter from Commander Jessel,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 13, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/23847.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.