University of Oxford
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47: Wilhelm, prisoner 53426

online resource
posted on 2024-01-12, 09:30 authored by Lest We Forget Project Team

My grandfather Wilhelm was 25 years old at the beginning of the war and came home at the age of 30. Terrifying how much lifetime the war robbed. He was captured in Gommecourt on July 1, 1916. It was the most western point of the German western front. Only a little bit to the south, on 1 July 1916, the Battle of the Somme began. Grandpa was very lucky, that he got out there right at the beginning! Did he see it that way - at least at the end of his life?

Wilhelm arrived at Stobs on 11 August 1916 following hospitalisation for a bullet wound to his arm.

He was later transferred to Catterick Camp in summer 1917 and various places on his way back to Germany following the war. Some mementos from the P/W camps in Britain Wilhelm kept all his life and passed them down the family.

During World War II Wilhelm’s son, also Wilhelm, was captured in France and below is a letter father wrote to son explaining, what had happened to him in the previous war.

"Lieber Wilhelm! 28.4.47
Zuerst will ich Dir mal Die Fragen beantworten.Ich kam am 1. Juli 16 in engl. Gefangenschaft b. Gommecourt, Richtung Arras- Amiens.Kam über Le Havre- Southampton auf etwa acht Wochen in ein engl. Lazarett. Von da aus nach Stobs near Harwick ins Lager.Im Sommer 17 gings nach Katterick. Im Frühjahr 18 nach Sheffield. Nach dem Waffenstillstand kam ich noch auf ein paar Tage nach einer Holzbearbeitungsstelle. Ein paar Wochen vor Weihnachten war ich im Lager Ly oder Ley. Im Frühjahr 19 kamen wir nach Franyo von hier aus wurden wir im Sommer mit drei Komp. gesammelt und kamen über Southampton nach Le Havre, also nochmals auf drei Monate nach Frankreich. Von Le Havre fuhren wir bis Arras. Dann folgte Marsch bis Eterpigny An der Straße Arras- Cambrai. Entlassung: 1.10.19. Auch letzt in Frankreich waren wir engl.Gefangene.

Werdet Ihr bei Eurer Entlassung den Engländern wieder übergeben? Wie geht es Dir da jetzt? Hast Du noch Bekannte bei Dir? Es grüßt herzlich Dein Vater G. v. Alle"

"Dear Wilhelm! 28.4.47 First I want to answer your questions. I was taken as p/w from the English on the 1. of July 1916 near Gommecourt, direction Arras-Amiens. I came over Le Havre - Southampton into an English Military Hospital for about eight weeks. From this place I came to Stobs near Hawick into a camp. In summer 17 we came to Catterick. In the Spring of 1918 we came to Sheffield. After the cease fire I still came for a few days to a woodworking site. A few weeks before Christmas I was in the camp Ly [Ely?] or Ley. In the spring of 1919 we came to Franyo [Fargo camp?]. From here we were gathered in the summer with three Comp. and came over Southampton to Le Havre, that meant once again three months in France. From Le Havre we drove to Arras. Then followed a march to Eterpigny on the road Arras- Cambrai.

Release from captivity: 01.10.19. Until the end in France we were English prisoners.

When you will be released, will they give you in the hands of the English?

How are you there now? Do you still have acquaintance with you? I greet you from all my heart. Your father. Greetings from all of us."


Name of contributor(s)


Subject of the story/individual the object(s) relate to

My grandfather Wilhelm

Date(s) the event(s) in the story took place

1916 - 1919

Location(s) where the event(s) in the story took place

P/W Camp Brocton ; Working Camp Catterick, Yorkshire.


Mementos from POW camp.

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