Review of “Captured Germans”

Captured Germans: British POW camps in the First World War
by the late Norman Nicol
published by Pen & Sword Military, 2017
ISBN (hardback) 978 1 78346 348 0
Hardback, 360 pages, illustrated, no index
Cover price £30

The publisher informs us that this book is the work of more than two decades of research, and I can well believe it.

The title is slightly misleading. On opening it, I was looking at a photograph of Winifred Carney, an Irish nationalist (who, as a matter of interest, I am distantly related to through a cousin’s marriage). Curious, I found a few others – but not a single German. Plenty of photos of hospitals and other grand buildings. Somewhat intrigued, I began to read.

I found that Norman Nicol has compiled a splendid compendium of locations used to incarcerate not only enemy prisoners of war, but political prisoners and enemy alien internees. Each is described as far as is possible, with the archival sources of the information being quoted. The descriptions of some locations are fleeting: the very first, Abbess Roding (for the locations are listed alphabetically) appears to have been a camp for an agricultural working party. The next, Herefordshire’s Abbeydore, is believed to have briefly housed 40 German POWs. Other locations are better known and better documented, including the larger camps, prisons and hospitals. For example, Frongoch in Wales was used for POWs until it became a main centre for holding arrested Irish nationalists from 1916 onwards. As a compendium, “Captured Germans” is not, perhaps, a book to read at bedtime although it is well-written and interesting. It certainly makes a good and useful reference work.

An usual and worthwhile addition to our knowledge of the “home front” at war.

Buy it