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POW camp Doddington Hall


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#1 Lindele

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 03:18 PM

Hello all,
I am new to this forum and need some help in my research of a POW camp in UK.
Apparently there was a POW camp for German POWs at Doddington Hall somewhere in UK. For an attempted escape some POWs digged a tunnel of some 40 metres or so.

My questions would be as follows:
1. Did this camp exist and if yes, where exactly was it?
2. Is the story of the tunnel known to any member?
3. Does anyone know how long it really was?
4. Did any POWs escape and made it home?

#2 Moonraker

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 03:52 PM

Do you mean DONINGTON Hall, Castle Donington, near Derby? This was one of the most famous PoW camps in the UK and I expect plenty of info would result from Googling. Graham Mark, Prisoners of War in British Hands during WWI, mentions that on September 17, 1915, Lt Otto Thelan (air force) and Lt Hans Kelbach (navy) got away from Donington after digging a 50yd tunnel from the library cellar. A reward of £100 was offered for their recapture. They were caught at Chatham five days later and faced a court martial. Thelan became a habitual escaper.

In 1980 the hall became the HQ of British Midland Airways.

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#3 Alan Tucker

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 03:58 PM

Years ago I noted a story in the Birmingham Daily Post 7.7.15 'German fugitive from Donington Hall' but with no more detail. Might be worth a Times digital archive search.

#4 Moonraker

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:27 PM

I did a search of the on-line archive for The Times and got three appropriate hits, but the info added very little to that given in my post above - just descriptions of the two escapers.


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#5 healdav

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:36 PM

There is a Doddington Hall outside Bath. It features in Remains of the Day.

I know nothing more about it.

#6 Moonraker

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:46 PM

Doddington Hall is not mentioned in Mark's comprehensive list of PoW camps and work-camps.


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#7 CGM

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 06:06 PM

Photo of Donnington Hall Derbyshire when a POW camp for German Officers

See here.

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#8 battiscombe

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:59 PM

Here in Leicestershire I have recently seen some stories of Donnington Hall resurrected from WWI newspapers complaining, amongst other things, about the luxurious treatment of German officers with their servants and fine living, wine rations, free access to the village, bothering local womanhood etc etc in that familiar style of tabloid rants. There were angry exchanges in Parliament also along these lines http://hansard.millb.../donington-hall

#9 Lindele

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:28 PM

Do you mean DONINGTON Hall, Castle Donington, near Derby? This was one of the most famous PoW camps in the UK and I expect plenty of info would result from Googling. Graham Mark, Prisoners of War in British Hands during WWI, mentions that on September 17, 1915, Lt Otto Thelan (air force) and Lt Hans Kelbach (navy) got away from Donington after digging a 50yd tunnel from the library cellar. A reward of 100 was offered for their recapture. They were caught at Chatham five days later and faced a court martial. Thelan became a habitual escaper.

In 1980 the hall became the HQ of British Midland Airways.

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#10 Lindele

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:41 PM

Hi Monnraker et all,

I believe you are correct with a mis-spelling of the place. I checked the report I have from the IWM by Lt. H.C.F. Harwood (about OFLAG VB Biberach Germany) and the tunnel digged there in 1941.
He quoted a German officer saying that the Biberach tunnel was at least 6 yards longer than the record tunnel constructed by our prisoners at Doddington Hall in the last war. Now, since conversation was done via an interpreter, and Harwood was probably not aware of the place, it got simply spelled the wrong way. Assuming the 50 yards are correct, it would make the tunnel in Biberach some 51 metres long, which is very close to what I assumed already.
So, thanks a lot to all of you. Any aditional information is of course very much appreciated.

#11 corisande

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:59 PM

You can get some pictures of it on this Google link click

If you follow any on the photos back you get more, including details of the tunnel

#12 Lindele

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 09:25 AM

You can get some pictures of it on this Google link click

If you follow any on the photos back you get more, including details of the tunnel


Hi Corisande,

thanks a lot, you seem to have looked at most of the many photos, can you give me a hint where you have seen the details of the tunnel?

Lindele

#13 corisande

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 10:21 AM

You are an idle man :)

http://paperspast.na...FS19160329.2.28

http://paperspast.na...---10--1----0--

#14 Lindele

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 03:35 PM

You are an idle man :)

http://paperspast.na...FS19160329.2.28

http://paperspast.na...---10--1----0--


Hi Corisande,

thanks for helping me finding the information in no time.

Interesting is the following:
1. One paper talks about the tunnel being 80 yards and the other paper refers to the escapees own story saying that they calculated 50 yards to beyond the barbed wires. So the actual length could have been somewhere in-between I guess.

2. There own story (as per the Newspaper clip) also refers to some details how they managed to complete the tunnel, e.g. working overalls left behind in the tunnel after a days work and the "trolly" to remove the earth from the tunnel. This sounds a bit like The Great Escape in WW2. I wonder, was this intelligence passed on the the WW2 diggers? At Donington Hall there were only 2 guys digging!? I have some doubts they actually digged the 50 to 80 yards by themselves. There must have been enough "helpers" around, but why did they not escape as well, or did they and were never caught?
3. A number of tunnels were digged in WW2 to escape from camps in Germany, Italy and Poland and like in the case of The Great Escape there were lots of diggers, helpers, etc.

Any thoughts?

Lindele

#15 nils d

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 06:39 PM

lf you watch motor racing from Castle Donnington you will catch sight of the Hall in the background.

#16 Lindele

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:21 PM

I have checked with The National Archives in Kew. There is a record withnthe reference FO 383/77.
This file seems to be pretty large, but from the summary you can check online it includes something about the escape from Donington Hall, the recapture and trial by a military court.

To avoid unnecessary cost, does anyone know this file and especially the part about the escape and the trial? As an alternative, does anyone go to Kew Archives from time to time?

Lindele