Prisoners of War
One of the more forgotten casualties of war, are those taken prisoner. During the First World War, there were over seven million prisoners of war, of which 2,400,000 were held in Gemany and 167, 603 of these were British. Despite the 1906 Geneva Convention, which laid down basic conditions for prisoners of war, most nation's were unprepared when the First World War began.
Being captured initially relied on the goodwill of the enemy to take prisoners. Many prisoners were shot or died being transported behind enemy lines. Conditions of prison camps varied considerably. There were often shortages of necessities, medical attention and things to do, and prisoners died of mistreatment, starvation and disease. While conditions for prisoners on the Western Front, were more tolerable, on the Eastern Front, matters were less than good. Forced marches and crowded railway journeys, preceded years in camps where disease, poor diet and inadequate medical facilities prevailed. The Allied blockade caused severe food shortages for Germany, and when the German harvests failed in 1917, prisoners of war inevitably suffered.
More British troops were captured during the final German Offensive in March 1918, than in all the previous months and years put together. Until the battle of Cambrai in November 1917, there were 40,000 British officers and other ranks in German hands. Cambrai added 9,000 prisoners to the total; and then during March 1918, when the Allies came very close to defeat, another 100,000 were taken. When the Armistice was signed on 11th November 1918, there were 6,577 British officers and 161,026 other ranks in German prison camps. In addition, there were more than 10,000 Commonwealth soldiers, nearly 1,100 officers and ratings of the Royal Navy and 3,073 from the Royal Naval Division in captivity.
Hull was affectionately known as the 'Home to Blighty' and received more than 80,000 repatriated Prisoners of War through its ports. Hull established many groups to receive and support prisoners of war. For example, the residents of Freehold Street, in Hull, baked bread for prisoners and distributed parcels from 'Peel House' on Spring Bank.The following are some articles from the Times:
RECEPTION AT HULL - The Times 17th November 1918
"British prisoners of war from Germany, numbering about 1,700, and including many from Holland, received a hearty welcome when they landed at the Continental riverside quay, Hull, this morning from the steamships Archangel and Stockport. Huge crowds gathered from early morning to greet the prisoners, and a small flight of aeroplanes circled over the ships as they were disembarked at 9.45. Major-General von Donop, in command of the Humber garrison, read the message from the King, which was received with great cheering. General von Donop said he would convey their response to the message to his Majesty. The police band played "See the Conquering Hero Comes," "Home, sweet Home," and "Auld lang Syne....Complete arrangements had been made at Hull for the comfort of the men, by a band of women workers from Peel House, the depot for the sending of provisions to prisoners of war, and, in addition to refreshment, each man was handed a parcel of cigarettes, sweetmeats, and biscuits. The Lord Mayor was unable to be present, as he was attending a Thanksgiving service. The men, with the exception of a few belonging to Hull, were immediately taken by special train to Ripon Camp, whence they will be distributed to their homes. The address of the camp is:- Repatriated Prisoners of War Reception Camp, Ripon South. About 1,500 men arrived by the two boats, and two other boats will arrive to-day."
MORE BRITISH PRISONERS HOME - CORPORAL GARFORTH, V.C., AT HULL - The Times, Tuesday 19th November 1918
"Two vessels landed over 2,000 repatriated British prisoners of war from Holland at Hull yesterday. Among the number were 250 officers, including airmen. There were enthusiastic scenes on the quay-side, where the men were met by MAJOR-GENERAL SIR STANLEY VON DONOP, commanding the Humber garrison, who delivered the King's message of welcome. The men cheered lustily, and sang the National Anthem. Among them was Corporal, Charles Ernest Garforth, V.C., 15th Hussars, who went to France with the original Expeditionary Force in August, 1914, and was taken prisoner on October 13 the same year."
Thank you to Sid Patterson, for the above photograph of his grandfather, Matthew Patterson - D Company, of the 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. He was wounded in the face at the Somme and in the right thigh at Paschendaele. He was also gassed, receiving a war pension as a result of his wounds, until his death in 1970. He was captured on the 25th of April 1918 at the second battle of Kemmel, and imprisoned at Friedrichsfeld. On receiving a telegram that he was missing, his mother collapsed and died of a cerebral haemorrhage. He had this photo taken at Newcastle Upon Tyne on his release. You will note that he is wearing a black arm band in remembrance of his mother.
Hundreds of Hull men were captured during the First World War. Here are some of their stories.
Pte, William Ashwell, had his left leg amputated while a prisoner of war, and died from his wounds on the 18th June 1918. He was 38 years old and is buried at Sissons. He was the son of Robert and Martha Ashwell, and lived with his wife Annie and son at 69 Queens Street.
Private, John Joseph Linford, 10th East Yorkshire Regiment, died a prisoner, on the 22nd September 1918, aged 31 years. He was the son of Thomas and Margaret Linford, at 2 Victoria Terrace, Newton Street. His brothers, George was reported missing in April 1918, Harold was also a prisoner of war, and Arthur was serving in France (Hull Daily Mail 17/1/1919)
Pte, Harold Banks, 1/4th EYR, was taken prisoner on the 27th May 1918. He died in Cologne, on the 18th November 1918, aged 20 years old. He was the son of Zachariah & Eleanor Banks, 1 Floral Avenue, Edinburgh Street, Hull. His older brother Ted had been killed in France in 1916, aged 19 years.
Lance Corporal, Henry Nolan, 2/6th South Staffs Regiment, died as a Prisoner of War in Germany on the 24th September 1918. He was aged 19. His parents Frank and Mary Maud Nolan, lived at 24 Bridlington Street. He is commemorated on the Roll of Honour, at St Charles Borromeo Church, Jarratt Street, Hull.
Barker & Bird
Private, Colin Edward Barker, of the 13th East Yorkshire Regiment, died as a German prisoner in Berlin, on the 2nd December 1916. He was 22 years old and lived at 118 York Street.
Pte, Cornelius Bird died as a Turkish Prisoner of War. He had been captured at Gallipoli serving with the 6thEast Yorkshire Pioneers in 1915. He died in 1917 aged 20 and is buried in Baghdad. He was the son of Charles and Esther Bird – 71 Dansom Lane.
POW Information Bureau 1914-18
Female typists at work in the records room of prisoners property held by the POWIB. The offices of the institution were at 49 Wellington Street, Strand, London.
Stoker, Thomas Bennett, from the 'Hawkes' Battalion, Royal Navy Division, was captured and died on the 8th June 1917. He left a wife Harriet and children at 10 Albert Villas, Holland Street. He was 42 years old and buried at Groningen.
Female members of the staff of the POWIB being taught German. The offices of the POWIB were at 49 Wellington Street, Strand, London.
Private, Robert Scaife, 7992, West Yorkshire Regiment, died on the 23rd November 1914, in a German hospital. He died from wounds received at Mons. He was the son of Robert and Jane Scaife, at 12 Hope Terrace, Walker Street. He was 26 year old, and remembered on the Walker Street war memorial, outside the Holy Apostles church.
Private, Ernest Brown, 1/4th East Yorkshire Regiment, 'D' Company, died of starvation, at the Worms Prison camp on 27th May 1917. He was 29 years old and lived at 3 Brighton Terrace, Kent Street, East Hull. His wife Annie Elizabeth Brown died in 1918. His parents George and Anna Brown also lived in Kent Street.
Tom Campey, 84 Selby Street, died of wounds as a prisoner of war, aged 32. His story is told in the Hull Times on 22/05/1915.
Bombardier, Clarence Cuthbert Wetherell, 755085, RFA, was returned from Germany on 5th December 1918, as an injured Prisoner of War. He was discharged from the Army on the 8th December 1918, and died soon, after an operation at Hull Royal Infirmary. He was the son of Edward and Bessie Wetherell, 61 Balfour Street and before the war had worked as a Butcher's assistant. He was 25 years old, when he died and left a widow Elsie and son, at 24 Pennington Street, Dansom Lane. He is buried at Hedon Road Cemetery.
Private, William Horsfall, known as 'Sunny' died of flu in Berlin on 15th October 1918, aged 22. He had married Alice Maud Hugman in 1917 and lived at 68 Marshall Street. His parents lived at 90 Alexandra Road. He is commemorated on a brass plaque at the Holy Methodist Church, Newland Avenue.
Private, Thomas Woodmansey, also of the 13th East Yorkshires, died on the 19th January 1917. It was reported in the Hull Daily Mail that he was one of four prisoners to have died of mistreatment. He was 20 years old and the son of Tom and Isabella Woodmansey, of 35 Day Street, Hull. His brother John also served with the East Yorkshire Regiment.