Tuesday, 13 June 2017

German Prisoners-of-War at Woburn

German prisoners marching along Woburn Sands High Street to work in Duke of Bedford’s woods, 1917 [Z887/2]

Thursday 13th June 1917: The commandant of the internment camp for German prisoners of war at Woburn has been asked if he would allow some of the prisoners to help with the work of potato spraying; this is now being recommended to allotment holders to help avoid blight. He was rather reluctant as he had in the past taken a great deal of trouble to arrange to provide prisoners as labourers, only to find out that they were not wanted after all. When they were employed in gardening and agricultural work experience showed that the prisoners proved very satisfactory, and he would expect to get permission from the War Office if application was made to him in good time. However, he was now “sick of the labour question” and did not intend to waste time pleading with people to employ the Germans. There was plenty of lumber work available for them.

While the German prisoners may make efficient and civil labourers, not all have been prepared to co-operate with their captors. Only a couple of weeks ago one of the prisoners escaped from Woburn Camp and the special constables had to be called out to search for him. He was spotted coming out of Copse Spinney in the parish of Battlesden apparently making for Watling Street, and was recaptured and returned to Woburn by two policemen.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 5th and 19th June 1917

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