POW

POW Notification

POW notifcation postcard

This is the POW notification that my great grandmother was sent upon my Grandad's capture.

There is much writing on the card. Starting with the front, at the top right it says Franc de Port, and underneath in pencil is written 'A B'.

There is a large blue censors stamp, this shows the crown, and carries the words 'Passed by censor T.53'

There is a stamp for the red cross, Comite International de la Croix Rouge - Genève. This is a faded double stamp, and so difficult to read.

There is a handwritten address: 'Mrs Swan' (my great grandmother), '41 Arngash Road, Catford, London, S. E. 6 England'

On the left is some information in French and English

Comité International de la Croix-Rought : International Red Cross Committee

Comité International de la Croix-Rought : International Red Cross Committee

Agence Centrale des Prisonniers de Guerre : Prisoners of War Central Information Agency

Genève (Suisse) : Geneva (Switzerland)

On the reverse of the card we find some detail.

At the top left, Ref. No RBO 4413, and the top right, 242 b-bis

The card continues:

Geneva, 19-6-40

Dear Madam, (Sir)

We beg to inform you that we have received a card dated 10-6-40 from the STALAG XX A GERMANY advising us that SWAN Sidney-Robert fusilier 6914956 Born 16-2-19 is interned in that camp.

From now on you can send letters to the above mentioned prisoner of war to the address given, adding the following "Kriegsgefangenenpost" (prisoners of war post) and "Gebührenfrei" (free of postal charges).

Yours Faithfully.

In addition to this message there is a handwritten remark, "he is well" as well as a stamp, in red, Comité International de la Croix Rouge. Agence centrale des prisonniers de guerre. GENÈVE

I still find it incredible that in the horrors of WW2, the Red Cross could function as well as it did. A wonderful organisation.

POW Camp Money

Money which was used in the POW camps

This is an example of some 'camp money' which was used in the POW camps. Special money was printed as there was a need for an 'in camp' economy, but they did not wish to help ensure they escaped.

Camp money was the answer to this dilemma. On the face of things, the camp money was worth a couple of Reichsmarks, in practice, it was worth very little.

The text on the money reads as follows:

Kriegsgefangenen-Lagergeld

Gutschein über 2 Reichsmark

Dieser Gutschein gilt nur als Zahlungsmittel für Kriegsgefangene und darf von ihnen nur innerhalb der Kriegsgefangenenlager oder bei Arbeitskommandos in den ausdrücklich hierfür bezeichneten Verkaufsstellen verausgabt und entgegengenommen werden. Der Umtausch dieses Gutscheines in gesetzliche Zahlungsmittel darf nur bei der zuständigen Rasse der Lagerverwaltung erfolgen. Zuwiderbehandlungen, Nachahmungen und Fälschungen werden bestraft.

Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht

Im Auftrage: <signature>

This translates roughly as:

POW Camp Money

Coupon for 2 Reichsmarks

This coupon is valid only for payment for POWS and may only be used by them inside the POW camps or on work details, spent and taken in the expressly designated points of sale. The exchange of this coupon into legal tender can only take place at a designated camp office. Contraventions, imitations and forgeries will be punished

Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht.

By order: <signature>

Prisoner of War Map

Map kept by the POWs

I've spent part of today going through some of my Grandad's papers. There is a lot of memorabilia in there, and I thought I'd periodically post some of it online, along with any stories which are associated with them. I'll also put on other items which come to me from other relatives - of course, this assumes that there is some interest.

This map was kept by my Grandad in a German POW camp in World War 2. He, along with his platoon, were captured somewhere in the region of Arras. They were on their way to the evacuation at Dunkirk (Dunkerque) but they never made it. Up until his death he still remembered being straffed by the Luftwaffe. A few days before he died he was convinced at one point that he was back on that French road.

Once captured, he along with the other POWs were marched across Europe. They would literally support their colleagues as they went for if one could not march, one was shot.

He spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp, having walked from the North of France. I think he was taken south as he described mountain ranges.

This map survives. It is a flimsy document, held together with a wing and a prayer, and a few pieces of tape. The map was kept in the camp, and the prisoners used it to follow troop movements which they heard from local Germans at their work placements, one of which was working in a plant which helped to make V2 rockets - an activity they were forced to do. One of the secretaries used to pass news on to the prisoners. When she was discovered she and her family were executed. In addition if the map was discovered then there was a high chance of being shot.

The map was hidden by being wrapped in oil skins, and it was kept in the pot of constantly boiling water which they used in the hut for various purposes.

The map is quite large, A3 size with a bit sticking out (so it once was A2). This image has been stitched together from three scans - I've shown a close up of the region around Brussels where one can just make out some of the pencil marks which were made.

A larger version of the map can be obtained by clicking on the image - the highest res version is too large to put online!

Additional: This entry has been linked to from 'The Map Room'