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53883: Group of Prisoners of War

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posted on 2024-02-18, 17:05 authored by Great War Archive Project Team

My grandfather, Private Richard Griffiths is far right. He was shot in both arms in battle in early 1918 and taken prisoner by the German Forces.

He always remembered that the German Doctors had taken the trouble to ask him what he did in civilian life and when he had replied that he was a tailor, they had said they would do their best to take care of his hands and restore the movement and feeling to his fingers. He carried the scars of the bullet wounds throughout his life but always remembered the kindness and thoughtfulness of the German doctors.

The main camp at Lager Lechfeld was a large one with different sections for the different Allied nationalities. British prisoners were lucky compared to the Russians and Serbians, as they received occasional parcels from the British Red Cross. There was some bartering with the other allies, however. A Russian had carefully whittled a beautiful wooden box with a hinge and carved lid from a single piece of wood he had found around the camp, and he exchanged a bar of soap from his parcel for this box, which remains a family treasure to this day. Prisoners were also allowed to send home photos of themselves and the camp as postcards, and in return were allowed to keep one photo of their family.

The many hundreds of prisoners would organise concerts for themselves and the guards, and Richard, having a fine singing voice was always in demand. The guards would shout You sing, Welshie, and Taid would sing. ˜Arafa Don', ˜Elen Fwyn' and ˜Sul Y Blodau', those most affecting of Welsh tenor solos having an airing in the depths of Bavaria, before a cosmopolitan and captive audience.

Private Richard Griffiths 41122 (3rd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers) was repatriated at the end of the war and finally demobbed and transferred to the reserves with two blue chevrons (signifying two years Overseas Service) and one wound stripe on 11 April 1919. His two brothers Ellis and Arthur also returned safely to Liverpool.

However, he was to feel the effects of war again in 1940, when, having established a busy and successful Tailor's shop on North John Street, Liverpool, this received a direct hit during the blitz “ not getting proper compensation from the Board of Trade, he started again from scratch at over 60 years of age.

He lived until the age of 86, a tolerant, intelligent, hardworking and gentle man, loved and respected by everyone who knew him.


Editor's Comment:
Group photograph of men in a range of uniforms worn by Prisoners of War, including Service Dress jackets dyed black, and other items of black clothing with drab stripes added. The man seated left wears the uniform of the Australian Imperial Force. Note the prisoner number on the jacket of the man seated closest to the camera.

History

Identifier

4168.jpg| GWA_2597_caerscan0055.jpg|

Subject

Griffiths, Richard

Date

1918

Date Created

01/01/1918

Temporal Coverage

31/12/1918

Source

Photograph

Medium

Photographic paper

Type

Photograph

Contributor

Richard Marshall | Kate Lindsay | Mairwen Haldane

Submission Event

Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle Submission Day, 8th May 2008

Rights

The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor

Publisher

The Great War Archive, University of Oxford