Prisoners of War (POW)

The battles of France and Britain resulted in a large number of prisoners being taken. Those prisoners were subject to the articles of the 1907 Hague and the 1929 Geneva conventions.

Relic Tea Ration Tin. Recently dug from the site of Stalug VIIIb.

The International Committee of the Red Cross states:

Provisions concerning the treatment of prisoners of war are contained in the Hague Regulations of 1899 and 1907. In the course of World War I they revealed several deficiencies as well as a lack of precision. Such defects were partly overcome by special agreements made between belligerents in Berne in 1917 and 1918. In 1921, the International Red Cross Conference held at Geneva expressed the wish that a special convention on the treatment of prisoners of war be adopted. The International Committee of the Red Cross drew up a draft convention which was submitted to the Diplomatic Conference convened at Geneva in 1929. The Convention does not replace but only completes the provisions of the Hague regulations. The most important innovations consisted in the prohibition of reprisals and collective penalties, the organization of prisoners' work, the designation, by the prisoners, of representatives and the control exercised by protecting Powers.


Pictured here is the box which contained the Red Cross parcel. These were distributed to POWs via the International Red Cross, based in Switzerland. They also had observers who would inspect the various official camps.The concentration and death camps officially did not exist, so were not subject to the external scrutiny. These parcels contained food and the typical contents were:

1/4 lb packet of tea
Tin of cocoa powder
Bar of milk or plain chocolate (often Cadbury's fruit and nut chocolate, or something similar)
Tinned pudding
Tin of meat roll
Tin of processed cheese
Tin of condensed milk (Klim - an American instant milk beverage, or Carnation or Nestlé brands)
Tin of dried eggs
Tin of sardines or herrings
Tin of preserve
Tin of margarine
Tin of sugar
Tin of vegetables
Tin of biscuits
Bar of soap
Tin of 50 cigarettes or tobacco (sent separately—usually Player's brand cigarettes, or Digger flake pipe tobacco)


 

 

Shortly after May 1940, the three camps which had been created by the French in order to house German prisoners and refugees, were reused by the Germans as POW camps.They were FrontStalag 150 (Saint-Florentin), 151 (Montargis) and 152 ( Pithiviers). These were front POW camps, used as temporary accommodation for the ever-growing numbers of POWs, prior to be being transferred to Germany. Here we have presented a POW's identity tag. It lists the camp (F ST152) and the prisoner's number (4080). This was as much information as was given, or indeed, wanted. For more information on the POW camps, please click here. For the French soldier, being captured was by no means the end of the story, to discover more please click here. Once the POW's had been moved on to the camps in Germany ST152 took on a whole new and more sinister role, please click here to read more.


This decorated French mess tin was the property of a member of the 233rd Colonial Heavy Artillery Regiment, which formed part of the 4th North African Infantry Division (formed in August 1938, they were disbanded in August 1940 following the fall of France). The 4th Division was a part of the 9th Armée, which was tasked with the protection of the area directly in front of the Germans' main attack through the Ardennes in May of 1940.


At this time, the 9th Armée was commanded by Gen. Andre Corap, who, following the German breakthrough, was personally blamed for the failure to stop the enemy and was replaced on the 19th May, which incidentally is the date carved onto the mess tin, as the date of the owner's capture. The carvings appear to have been done with the blade of a knife (or bayonet) and alas, are not as clear to read as would be desirable. However, we are able to discern the regiment and the name, Harani. It appears this was done in order to both while away his time in captivity and to mark out his kit as being his own. Due to the location in which it was stationed (and the fundamental lack of anti-tank guns), the 4th Division was quickly overrun, at which time Harani was taken into captivity for (what we assume was) the duration.

To read about Lance-Sergeant C R Miller Royal Engineers and see a postcard sent from Switzerland, click here.

To read about Private L J S Turner 6345653 Queen's Own Royal West Kents, click here.

To read about Sergeant Arthur Evans CBE 2nd Irish Guards, click here.

To read about Guardsman 2734880 Cyril Parkin, click here.

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