The extent and state of World War II prisoner of war camps in England has not received the due attention it deserves. While the National Archives in London is riddled with sources and documentary evidence of the almost 1,500 camps across the British Isles during the war, war camps is a memory most would rather forget. A sound starting point for research has always been Winston Churchill’s “Unexpected Guests”, but unfortunately since the end of the war many prisoner of war camps have been pulled down or swallowed by redevelopment, relegating their remains to infrequent and often small-scale archaeological digs. A large part of WWII history has been lost as a result, but we can still find snippets that reveal the daily life of prisoners and the many audacious escape attempts made by POWs. I have always been a proponent of examining transparently even the dark chapters of our own history. It is hoped that as pieces of this puzzle are assembled we may learn the personal stories that make history.
A recent BBC article “What happened to WW2 POW camps?” re-introduces the subject of much historical intrigue. BBC notes that “more than 500,000 Italian and German fighters were brought to Britain as prisoners of war during World War Two. They spent the remainder of the war in commandeered stately homes, old Army barracks or hastily thrown together huddles of huts, often built by the prisoners themselves.”
You can consult the BBC article here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-30398060
For further resource, please consult some of the following sources (some listings may be incomplete):
The Guardian’s listing of Prisoner of War camps
Location of POW Camps in Great Briton
The purpose of the following report was to establish the geographical location, and an overall assessment of the relative survival of Prisoner of War camps in England.