LIFE IN THE CAMP
Many of the people around Bridgend thought that the life of a prisoner was an easy life, but this was far true. Every morning at 6:00 am all prisoners were woken and then had to wash in what were very cramped and impersonal conditions. There were thirty to forty prisoners to each toilet facility.
They would then be marched to the canteen for breakfast & at exactly 9:00 am they had to parade in front of their huts in formation so that the British Officers could count them. They were extremely vigilant to make sure that none of the prisoners dodged from one hut to another to stand in for any missing persons.
Until 5 pm the prisoners were made to be involved in carrying out various jobs. While the war was still on the prisoners were given jobs within the camp such as general maintenance, plumbing gardening or carpentry; cooking was considered to be the most sought after job !
After the war prisoners were allowed out of the camp to work. Under the Geneva Convention officer POWs could not be compelled to do manual labour, but they could volunteer to do so if they wished. Consequently, many worked on local farms where work was always available.
Gathering the 1946 Wheat Harvest
Left To Right: RAD-Obergeneralarbeitsführer Martin Eisenbeck,
Konteradmiral Erich Alfred Breuning,
Generalmajor Werner von Boltenstern
Some of the prisoners went to work for
the R.S.P.C.A. dog kennels in Bridgend and a large number were set to work helping
clearing the beaches of anti tank traps which had been erected to fend off a
possible German invasion.
The prisoners also proved helpful in times of trouble such as during heavy snow falls, clearing roads and paths etc. In a nearby street to the camp (Mount Earl), the prisoners repaired roofs which got damaged in severe weather.
There was often mixed reactions by the local people to the prisoners and Mr Victor Davies, a guard at the camp, recalls trouble when prisoners were sent to Bridgend railway station to help clear the snow.
"The station was such that the trains could not run because of the snow. We took the German prisoners up there regardless of who they were or their rank. The Germans were made to clear the snow away by hand using shovels. While they were clearing the snow, the people on the platform were throwing stones at them. We had our work cut out trying to stop them throwing the stones."
The prisoners were not paid any money for their work. They were actually paid with plastic disks which they could exchange at the camp store for items such as boot polish cigarettes, laces etc.
A lot of the prisoners were skilled work men. One of the prisoners was a saddler by trade and adapted his skills to make leather articles for the people of Bridgend. This proved extremely popular, especially his leather sandals.
Some of the prisoners got to know that a particular type of seaweed grew on Newton beach. Using this they would dye army blankets and make fine items of clothing such as dressing gowns.
Between the hours of 6:00 pm and 10:30 pm, the prisoners were free to pursue what ever interest they wished. There was a very large hall which they used for indoor tennis and for putting on shows and there was a large grassed area on which they played football using a football they made themselves.
A local man by the name of John Morgan of Laleston regards a wooden kangaroo made by a prisoner as a very cherished possession as he was personally given the carving. As a child he used to play in the garden of his home and would wave to a group of men who were prisoners being escorted past his home on their way to work. One day a prisoner broke ranks and gave John the small wooden toy.
Actual Picture Of Wooden Kangaroo Given To John Morgan
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