Prisoners of War Remembered
An interpretative board telling the story of the Shrewsbury Prisoner of War Camp has been unveiled at the Abbey Car Park, Shrewsbury. Despite persistent rain a good crowd turned out to see Colonel Michael Evans TD DL welcome Lt Col Oberdorf (a serving officer from the NATO Rapid Reaction Force) representing Germany, to Shrewsbury. In his address Colonel Michael Evans said that the ceremony “brings together British and Germans to pay tribute to men of both sides who spent at least part of their service in prisoner of war camps.”
The board gives a history of the camp and includes photographs of prisoners of war on the site alongside the Abbey. The site was previously occupied by the Midland Railway Wagon and Carriage Works. After the company closed, the redundant buildings were initially put to use housing German civilians stranded in this country by the outbreak of war. It was later used to accommodate military personnel and the facilities were improved. Prisoners were engaged in boot making, tailoring and making small articles for sale. Route marches were arranged four days a week.
As food shortages became more acute, more man power was needed for food production. Many of the German PoWs were experienced in agriculture and in 1918 farmers were urged to apply at once in time for the harvest. Smaller camps and agricultural depots were established around the county. Some 1,600 men were held in Shrewsbury and its dependent agricultural work camps.
The interpretive board will be a lasting reminder of the lives of Prisoners of War and the impact of First World War on Shrewsbury and the Shropshire homefront.