Prisoner of War Camp

A 2003 English Heritage study records a Prisoner of War camp at Home Park, number 673, although the grid reference is almost certainly incorrect and the study does acknowledge the difficulty in identifying locations.  The study report is here:

A map survey from 1949 shows where huts were located near the north end of Upper Knollys Terrace.  We can be certain that they were used for the PoW camp because The Box record 1561-171 is a letter written in February 1948 from the Honorary Secretary of the Penlee Valley Allotments Association to the Town Clerk requesting “to rent the Concrete Wardens Post the top of Knollys Terrace, Alma Road, facing the Prisoner of War camp for a store for seed potatoes, etc.”   Subsequent correspondence confirms the warden’s post as being 4/A/2 at Upper Knollys Terrace. 

The huts were probably those built for the Auxiliary Territorial Service (A.T.S.) late 1942 because another record in The Box (1646-363) is a memorandum, dated 8th February 1943 and headed “Central Park Camp – “A.T.S. Quarters by Knollys Tce.”  It appears likely that the A.T.S. huts would have been re-purposed for the PoW camp later in the war once the need for anti-aircraft defences had diminished.  

It is also likely that some or all of the prisoners would have been billeted in tents as was the case at other camps.  We know that tents were erected in Central Park because a memorandum dated 28th March 1944 (The Box record 1646-364) requested an estimate to connect the Central Park Tented Camp to the water main. 

Some accounts suggest that the nationalities held were German, Austrian and Italian, that security was light and relations with local people mainly friendly.  Terry Sainsbury’s family returned to Victoria Avenue early in 1944 having been bombed out of their previous home in 1941 and he recalls how he and his friends used to fly their paper planes over the fence of the PoW camp to the annoyance of the soldiers on guard.  He remembers how the prisoners made slippers out of rope which were sold to local families. 

The camp remained in use until 1948 with its occupants being employed on the house re-building programme, including the temporary bungalows or prefabs in Central Park.  They were particularly used for preparatory works such as slabbing and sewer construction.

The Western Evening Herald reported on 6th May 1948 that the last large party to be repatriated left North Road station that day, apparently with some reluctance.  

Further information is wanted about the camp and its occupants so please get in touch if you can assist.

The area where the Prisoner of War camp stood, now the south-west corner of the Golf Course. (Andrew Young)