German prisoners

Discussion in '1940' started by vac, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. vac

    vac Member

    British units took prisoners, eg the Bucks Battalion Oxf and Bucks Light Infantry captured two survivors of a German aircraft shot down near their position. What did they do with them? And did any units still have prisoners with them once a full retreat was inevitable and if so what did they do with them?
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

  3. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I've seen photographs of a reasonable group of German aircrew prisoners awaiting embarkation...I'm trying to remember where now.
  4. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member Patron

    I've been looking through my books today trying to find a description of a meeting Churchill had during one of his trips to France in June. He asked the French to turn over, I think, several hundred Luftwaffe prisoners to him but they refused. I thought it was described in Carlo D'Este's "Warload" but I can't find the passage now.
  5. vac

    vac Member

    mmmmm.............. the Arras thread lively! Realise should have framed my question more carefully -- ie what was the procedure for handling prisoners taken? I assume from the above thread that prisoners were to be handed to the French (presumably as they were technically in command) and then any prisoners still with retreating units to be handed to someone somewhere in the vicinity of Dunkirk.

    Is there any way to identify the German airmen captured by the Bucks Battalion as mentioned in my original post. I assume if handed to the French they were in no position to make careful records. I believe the capture was at Alsembourg on May 14th.
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The procedure might be outlined in something like the Field Service Pocket Book and might have varied depending on the perceived intelligence value of the POWs. Of course, its application was probably subject to some amendment during the withdrawal.
  7. vac

    vac Member

    Hi, Thank-you for the tip -
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Normally battlefield prisoners were directed to the rear and held in POW compounds commonly termed cages.If the military dynamic situation was appropriate, the POWs were then processed and sent to POW camps.In the case of the Normandy campaign,German POWs were evacuated to Britain to be kept in permanent POW camps....political assessments were carried out in an attempt to segregate those who were indoctrinated with National Socialism and appropriate political education programmes were adopted.

    As regards Belgium in 1940 while it was adopting a neutral stance,there were cases when downed RAF aircrew were interned by the Belgium authorities...release was a mere formality.

    Captured German forces were often released by the overrunning of Belgium and France territory as the German Blitzkrieg rolled forward from 10 May 1940.With the adverse military situation escalating,I would think that there was no opportunity establish POW camps or to remove any German POWs to Britain.
  9. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Using the IWM photo collection search for France / 1940 / Prisoner (as a sample search) provides a few shots of German troops (mainly Luftwaffe) being taken PoW by British forces.

    But no photos of them being delivered to Britain soil that I could see

    British troops on the Somme Front: German prisoners are escorted to 152 Brigade HQ at St Maxent.

    THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (BEF) IN FRANCE 1939-1940 | Imperial War Museums

    British troops on the Somme Front: Two Grenadier guardsmen help a wounded German pilot after his capture.

    THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (BEF) IN FRANCE 1939-1940 | Imperial War Museums

    And not much help from the Aussie newspaper archives - A German Complaint - Warwick Daily News (Qld. : 1919 -1954) - 1 Jun 1940

    Warwick Daily News (Qld) - Sat 1 Jun 1940 - A German Complaint

    LONDON, Thursday. The German radio accuses British Officers of maltreating prisoners. "Defenceless German prisoners have been robbed, chained, beaten and exposed to German artillery". It adds "These crimes will be remembered and punished." The radio repeats the charge that British planes are bombing non-military objectives.

    LONDON. Thursday. The German Foreign Minister (Herr von Ribbentrop), through the Swedish Government has sent a formal note to the French Government, alleging ill-treatment of German airmen prisoners, and threatening severe counter-measures.

    The French Ministry of Information has issued a formal denial. It adds that if reprisals are taken on the pretext of the allegations, the French will reply in similar fashion.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    German prisoners of war in the United Kingdom - Wikipedia

    Early Phase of the War
    Initially the only Germans to be captured by the British were naval personnel (mainly submariners) and members of the Luftwaffe (German air force).[3] The first prisoners were the captain and crew of a submarine, U-39, on 14 September 1939, only days after the outbreak of war. The commanding officer, Captain Gerhard Glattes, was to serve one of the longest terms as a POW in British hands: he was finally released in April 1947 after seven-and-a-half years in captivity.[4] Luftwaffe personnel who were captured include Franz von Werra, known as The One That Got Away from the book and subsequent film of that title.[5]
    Initially two prisoner of war camps were established:
    Camp No. 1, Grizedale Hall, Cumbria.
    This forty-room mansion was reserved for officers and became known as the 'U-boat Hotel'. It had space for 200 prisoners of war, but in November 1939 it was occupied by only twenty-one men.[6]
    Camp No. 2, Glen Mill, Oldham, Lancashire
    This was a former cotton mill housing 2,000 'other ranks' (i.e. those with the rank of sergeant or lower).[3] Conditions were considered to be very poor, especially as far as overcrowding and inadequate sanitation were concerned. 'There were a few big buckets there, the stench was terrible,' one former inmate remembers.[7]
    During the early phase of the war, Britain adopted a policy of sending all enemy prisoners to Canada. This measure was intended to preclude the possibility of POWs escaping and making their way back to Germany. A further reason given was that food and other necessities were in short supply within the United Kingdom. Consequently, men were generally shipped to Canada as soon as there were enough to fill a troop carrier.[3] This meant that the total held within the UK seldom exceeded 2,000 men, whereas about 9,000 German prisoners were being held in Canada by late 1942.[8]

    German POW's from Holland to UK

    - German Prisoners Of War In Camp (1939)

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  11. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member Patron


    Every prisoner of war camp in the UK mapped and listed
    There were hundreds of prisoner of war camps in the UK during the second world war. See where they were and get the data
    Get the data
  12. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member Patron

    ps I don't think these were all for German POWs - there were Italians and others too. eg there was a camp for Italian prisoners near where I lived at the time.
    There's an earlier thread about this (but not about the specific query of the OP.)
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Field Service Pocket Book: Pamphlet No.3: Intelligence - Information and Security 1939:

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  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Intelligence personnel of units and the lower order formations - brigades and divisions - were permitted to carry out a 'preliminary examination' of POWs and documents to obtain information of immediate tactical relevance, with 'detailed interrogations' left to intelligence personnel at corps and GHQ, particularly where aircrew were concerned.
  15. vac

    vac Member

    Thank-you all for the information and links - not only interesting but really helpful for me - so once again big thank-you.
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    My understanding is they were either passed to MP's or transferred by the local unit to Brigade and then on to Division then Corps to embarkation. There are numerous German Interrogation reports at the National Archives. I had a lot of them once but that's another story that's still too painful to talk about :lol:
  17. idler

    idler GeneralList

    We won't mention it - don't want to get your back up...
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  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Ohhhhh Idler you are a one :omg:

  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Interestingly the escape of Franz von Werra in Canada and his passage to the then neutral US enabled him to return to Germany.In Germany he was able to disclose the RAF interrogation techniques which were very similar to those the Luftwaffe adopted against RAF aircrew. von Werra was a "graduate" of Trent Park and was able to supply information on how confidential information was likely to be extracted from POWs.

    From von Werra's experience as a POW,the German Military Intelligence Service on July 11 1941 issued guidelines on how captured Wehrmacht forces should behave when captured by the British.

    The exchange of German and Allied POWs in October 1943 enabled feedback to be made by both sides.A returning Kreigsmarine officer,Schilling reported on British interrogtion techniques and other feedback revealed that certain German generals were talking openly in a cavalier manner during their mutual conversations at Trent Park.

    In the British POW exchange group was Private Albert Pooley of the Norfolk Regiment who was first able to divulge the atrocity at Le Paridis in May 1940....alas it fell on deaf ears but his claim of the atrocity was finally confirmed when the other survivor Private William O'Callaghan returned from captivity in 1945.
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