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Parole of British & German POWs


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#1 Angrybudgie

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 01:29 AM

I was wondering if anyone else had come across mention of the following:

In about mid to late 1915 or possibly very early 1916, Officers and other ranks of both sides who had been captured in 1914 were offered the opportunity for internment in Holland in return for their parole not to escape and rejoin the fighting.

I ask for two reasons, the first being that my grandfather (1st Cheshires) was captured on the 23rd/24th August 1914 and apparently taken prisoner. Nothing unusual, except I know he met my grandmother (Belgian) in Holland in 1916 and married in early 1918. He was not greatly wounded as he also served in WW2, serious wounds would I thought preclude this later service. Also, badly wounded prisoners were not exchanged until about 1918.

The second reason is that now for the first time I have found reference to such an event in an autobiography written by an officer after his service in ww2. Now do the experts out there know of any other written proof of such an event happening??


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#2 kenf48

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:21 PM

Holland became a target for escaping POWs but if they made it to the country they were interned and sent to internment camps, (another group, around 1000, mainly marines and from the RND were interned after the retreat from Antwerp in 1914. The majority of these men were interned at Groningen, the Admiralty ordered they were not to attempt to escape. (Hansard).)
The Times reports a 'cup final' at Christmas 1914 among the internees.

If you have access to the Times archive (from the library service in the UK) there are a number of articles on internment in Holland.

On July 28th 1917 the newspaper reported the 'new' Hague convention was ratified and among the terms were that 7,500 sick or wounded combatants from both England (sic) and Germany should be selected for internment in Holland. Lists of these officers and men were subsequently published, they seem to have been in batches of 30 officers and 300 men (very approximate). This group would not have included your grandfather if he met his wife in 1916.

In July 1918 there is an extensive report on prisoner exchange, including those 'interred in Holland and Switzerland.'

There are many articles on the RND (including on Dec 24 1915 the marriage of an officer to a local girl and in June 1916 English soldiers playing cricket for Dutch teams) but I can find no earlier reference to an organised movement of prisoners to Holland than 1917 above, nor in Hansard - which doesn't mean it's not there!


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#3 steve morse

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 03:25 PM

They were also sent to Switzerland under the same terms of parole.

#4 kenf48

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 06:07 PM

They were also sent to Switzerland under the same terms of parole.



The first contingent of 500 British prisoners to be transferred to Switzerland is well documented and was at the end of May 1916, they were accommodated at Chateau d'Oex near Montreux. It had taken the British a year longer than the French to negotiate this arrangement for sick and wounded soldiers. There had been some minor exchanges prior to this date, but these were the first to be released as a result of the negotiations. The scheme was referred to in Parliament as ' since it's inception, largely experimental' and in fact the UK was considering a reciprocal agreement involving neutral Scandinavian countries.

There is no mention of similar arrangements for Holland, until 1917 (apart from the RND) as noted above. I have found a reference to an exchange of 110 'incapacitated' prisoners in February 1915 however these soldiers are described as 'passing through Holland on the way to Liberation' The Times February 16 1915, the same article notes the German prisoners going in the opposite direction had 'nearly all lost a limb though some were able to get about on crutches' so no nearer to the OPs grandfather. Incidentally the following day there was a leader on 'the Kindly Dutch'. A further group of 200 wounded men, 49 officers and 301 medics in June received similar kindness but again they were only 'passing through'. In January 1916 a 'returned prisoner' wrote an account of his repatriation. The next reported exchange was August 1916. So not really much further forward. Ken


#5 centurion

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 06:12 PM

Holland became a target for escaping POWs but if they made it to the country they were interned and sent to internment camps,

No they weren't they were repatriated. The standard terms of neutrality are that combatant entering a neutral country such as the RND did when retreating and numbers of German deserters also did is interned but an escapee is to be repatriated.
Agreements were made between various allies and Germany that sick prisoners could be exchanged into a neutral country where they would be interned. After six months if their medical condition had not improved they could then be repatriated otherwise they were interned for the duration. Very sick prisoners could be repatriated immediately using a neutral country. Different countries were favoured by different nations but the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden were all used for this. Interned prisoners were often given considerable freedom on giving their parole and could take paid employment (if they could find any) and rent property. Some were even allowed to go home on leave. Visits by relatives were also sometimes organised.

As the war progressed under various agreements unwounded prisoners were allowed to opt for internment using a legal fiction of a disease called "barbed wire fever" which was caught after two years as a POW. There was a considerable waiting list of men still waiting to be processed under this scheme when the war ended.

#6 kenf48

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 10:39 PM

No they weren't they were repatriated. The standard terms of neutrality are that combatant entering a neutral country such as the RND did when retreating and numbers of German deserters also did is interned but an escapee is to be repatriated.


Thank you for the correction,

I found the reference which is Article 13 of the Hague Convention (V).
"A neutral Power which receives escaped prisoners of war shall leave them at liberty. If it allows them to remain in its territory it may assign them a place of residence."
It seems a fine distinction, presumably British troops trying to escape from Belgium in 1914 would also be treated as belligerents, disarmed and interned.
Unfortunately still takes us no nearer to what a relatively able bodied soldier from the 1st Cheshires was doing in Holland form 1916 to 1918 as it was not until the end of 1917 that large, organised numbers of POWs were sent to Holland under the Hague Agreement made earlier that year when it was agreed 7,500 selected soldiers, who reached the criteria and agreed to give their parole would be interned in Holland.
There is evidence soldiers interned by the Dutch Government were treated differently to those interned later under the terms of the Hague Agreement although as you say the latter were given teir freedom with the exception they could not return home.




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#7 centurion

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:06 PM



Thank you for the correction,

I found the reference which is Article 13 of the Hague Convention (V).
"A neutral Power which receives escaped prisoners of war shall leave them at liberty. If it allows them to remain in its territory it may assign them a place of residence."
It seems a fine distinction, presumably British troops trying to escape from Belgium in 1914 would also be treated as belligerents, disarmed and interned.
Unfortunately still takes us no nearer to what a relatively able bodied soldier from the 1st Cheshires was doing in Holland form 1916 to 1918 as it was not until the end of 1917 that large, organised numbers of POWs were sent to Holland under the Hague Agreement made earlier that year when it was agreed 7,500 selected soldiers, who reached the criteria and agreed to give their parole would be interned in Holland.
There is evidence soldiers interned by the Dutch Government were treated differently to those interned later under the terms of the Hague Agreement although as you say the latter were given teir freedom with the exception they could not return home.




Ken

The distinction is quite real and not so fine and was intended to prevent combatants retreating and taking refuge in a neutral country only to re emerge to fight later. The alternative would have been to allow the other combatant the right of hot pursuit into the neutral country. Those interned in this manner could enjoy much the same privileges as did the later internees if they gave and kept their parole and did not attempt to escape. Unfortunately with Churchill's connivance a number did escape so conditions were tightened up and some were quite closely confined.
In fact internees could return home on leave (on condition that they came back within the specified period) and at least one ended up on a torpedoed leave boat.
Your Cheshires soldier could well have been exchanged into the Netherlands as wounded or sick under the early pre 1917 agreements but on review have been found to be much (or even totally) recovered in which case he would be interned for the duration as I mentioned in my previous post.

#8 kenf48

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:44 PM

The problem is I can find no references to sick or wounded soldiers previously held as POWs being interned in the Netherlands prior to the Hague agreement of 1917.



In the earlier arrangements you refer to all the reports suggest the soldiers selected were invariably incapacitated and repatriated to the UK, simply passing through Holland andtherefore not there long enough to effect a change in their condition.


There is evidence the Dutch authorities visiting Switzerland to assess how the arrangement worked in that country prior to the implementation of the Hague agreement, I wonder why would they do that if they had previously been involved in exchanges that meant wounded or sick soldiers were interned in their country?


Another fascinating byway and thank you for your help, no doubt the OP will be waking up soon in Oz and can shed more light!
btw as I'm sure you're aware it was only those interned by the Dutch who were granted home leave.

Ken



#9 centurion

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:52 PM

The problem is I can find no references to sick or wounded soldiers previously held as POWs being interned in the Netherlands prior to the Hague agreement of 1917.



In the earlier arrangements you refer to all the reports suggest the soldiers selected were invariably incapacitated and repatriated to the UK, simply passing through Holland andtherefore not there long enough to effect a change in their condition.


There is evidence the Dutch authorities visiting Switzerland to assess how the arrangement worked in that country prior to the implementation of the Hague agreement, I wonder why would they do that if they had previously been involved in exchanges that meant wounded or sick soldiers were interned in their country?


Another fascinating byway and thank you for your help, no doubt the OP will be waking up soon in Oz and can shed more light!
btw as I'm sure you're aware it was only those interned by the Dutch who were granted home leave.

Ken


Probably because Switzerland was too far and expensive whereas there were regular ferries between the Netherlands and Britain

#10 Angrybudgie

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 12:06 AM

Thank you for all the replies, after hunting around I have found the chapter that referred to this parole.

"Escaping unfortunately, was unpopular, because the commandant usually 'strafed' the camp after some unsuccessful attempt, curtailing for a period such small privileges as the right to go for walks or use a certain part of the camp for recreation.

I suffered from one rather bad example of this. After the war had lasted for some time arrangements were made between the British and German Governments for an equal number of their prisoners-of-war, who had been in captivity longest, to be sent to Holland, where they would live comparatively freely but on parole. It was a tempting thought to get away once and for all from the hated barbed wire and live a normal life again.

But giving parole meant that we relinquished all chance of getting back to our regiments and fighting again. ...................................................(I have left out some irrelevances)

Having been captured in October, 1914, I was among those designated for repatriation, but to the commandant's fury I refused to go.

' You will be sent down under escort to a camp near Holland and you will be put over the frontier whether you like it or not.' he said. 'What is more, we shall be very glad to see the last of you.'

I repeated that I had no intention of going to Holland and giving my parole. 'If I am sent I shall escape.'"

He almost made it across the border from the the camp near Holland, but was captured and returned to a camp further away, much in disgrace with both the Germans and the British angry with him.....

The author was Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Horrocks...

Unfortunately, he is not very clear about timing, and I have only my memories to go on re my grandparents. However, family research shows the first child was born in late 1918, and marriage very early 1918. I very much doubt that there would have been any hanky panky all though accidents happen in the best of families. What was considered an acceptable engagement period by the gentry in those days????

Not sure that this advances anything at all....

Elizabeth


#11 kenf48

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 12:28 AM

Thanks for the clarification - biology works for December 1917, if he was a fast worker. Sounds like they made it OK even if it was a whirlwind romance!
Horrocks was almost certainly referring to 1917 as length of time in captivity was one of the criteria under the agreement.


I came across a reference where RFC pilots who landed in neutral countries were discouraged from attempting to escape (unlike the French) but were expected to accept internment and 'give their parole',sometimes unwillingly as Horrocks describes.
There was another reference where questions were raised in the House about wives visiting their men interned in Holland was described as an 'urgent need'Posted Image

Ken

#12 Angrybudgie

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 08:27 AM

After a large amount of time trolling through the Times Online, until my eyes were crossed, I finally found a record of his arrival in Holland. I started at the point of the announcement in July 1917 and looked at every day after that. The first train load of men who had been in captivity longer than 18 months arrived in Holland on the 29th December 1917. Attached is copy of the list of Officers on the train for everyones information. FYI my Grandfather is Lieut. R. H. Bolton 3rd Cheshires, he was attached to the 1st Cheshires at the outbreak of the war.



Elizabeth

Attached Files



#13 kenf48

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 10:01 AM

Thanks for posting, that's great confirmation....you now know why I left it to you to search...hope your eyes uncross soon!


As well as the Times there are also lots of references to the conditions and circumstances of the Hague Agreement internees (and those interred by the Dutch authorities earlier) in Hansard http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/

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#14 centurion

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 10:50 AM

This topic has been discussed in numerous previous threads

A few points
- the 1917 treaty "consolidated" previous ad hoc arrangements regarding exchanges into various neutral countries which had been taking place in spits and spats before
- there are accounts of officers interned in Switzerland being allowed home leave after giving their parole but more usually wives went out to them.
- some internees in Holland were joined by their wives

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) started the ball rolling almost as soon as WW1 broke out. They asked the president of Switzerland to agree that a number of sick and wounded POWs could be interned on Swiss soil. They then approached belligerent powers (in December 1914) with the suggestion that they negotiate agreements amongst themselves and with the Swiss government to facilitate the exchange of such prisoners into Swiss custody where they could be treated under conditions more akin to a hospital/convalescent home than a POW camp. By 1916 over 30,000 prisoners of all ranks and various nationalities could be in Switzerland at any one time. The PRO (and now presumably the National Archives) maintained a list of British citizens of all ranks interned in Switzerland on medical grounds up to mid 1916. The details included name rank and number; disability; original camp in Germany from which exchanged. The concept spread with the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark all involved. For example Sweden housed Russian and German prisoners whilst Denmark housed Romanian, German and KuK prisoners. Gradually non wounded prisoners began to be exchanged. In most cases a legal fiction was established to allow this; prisoners were assumed to have caught 'barbed wire fever' after a certain time in captivity, thus they could be exchanged as sick. Access to this form of prisoner exchange was sometimes restricted to certain ranks (partially because the receiving countries imposed quotas) but this does not seem to have been a hard and fast rule. Exchange for sick or wounded POWs does not appear to have been rank limited but there was some rationing due to quotas - this seems to have been largely on the grounds of degree of sickness and to some extent a degree of 'deserving'.

Some of the original ad hoc exchanges involved French prisoners suffering from TB. As Switzerland had the best facilities in Europe for treating this disease this is where they went.

#15 Doug Johnson

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:54 PM

Can someone look him up in Cox's as my copy is packed away?

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#16 John Gilinsky

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 05:15 PM

An agreement to repatriate reciprocally between German and British sick and wounded POWS was signed at the Hague, Netherlands on July 2, 1917. This agreement both consolidated and expanded previous arrangements between these two powers and set numerical limits on the numbers that could be repatriated. Mixed Swiss and belligerent party medical personnel and/or representatives were to exmaine each POW's condition. Parliamentary Papers Miscellaneous for 1917 contain the full text of this agreement.
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#17 chrisdann

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:38 PM

We recently discovered that my grandfather was interned in the Hague in 1917. When my mother died and we were clearing her house, we found about 30 postcards to my mother, my aunt and my grandmother from the Hague with no real information other that he was only allowed to travel so far from the barracks in which he was detained until the end of the war., We would very much like to find out more about this but are having difficulty because we know very little about his war service. Thank you for others on here for giving us ideas of how to find out more about how and why he came to be in the Hague at that time. His name was Philip Rudge Powell and he came from Newport, South Wales so presumably would have been in a local regiment.

#18 munster

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 11:27 PM

We recently discovered that my grandfather was interned in the Hague in 1917. When my mother died and we were clearing her house, we found about 30 postcards to my mother, my aunt and my grandmother from the Hague with no real information other that he was only allowed to travel so far from the barracks in which he was detained until the end of the war., We would very much like to find out more about this but are having difficulty because we know very little about his war service. Thank you for others on here for giving us ideas of how to find out more about how and why he came to be in the Hague at that time. His name was Philip Rudge Powell and he came from Newport, South Wales so presumably would have been in a local regiment.

A possible candidate for you is 115 Pte Philip R Powell 1st Monmouthshire Regt.john
http://search.ancest...alRolls&indiv=1