German prisoners of war

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance German prisoners of war

The site of Richmond Camp as it was first called was suggested by Robert Baden Powell while he was based at Richmond Castle as Inspector-General of Cavalry. The name quickly changed to Catterick Camp in order to avoid confusion with Richmond in Surrey. The Camp’s first troops occupied the area for training in 1915. Major-General Michael Frederick Rimington was the officer in charge.

In 1915 the decision was made to expand the training camp. A new prisoner of war camp was established and eventually 5000 German prisoners of war were housed there. Initially German PoWs were not permitted to work and boredom became a major problem. The prisoners played sports and even set up an orchestra (with instruments they made themselves) to fill their time. A change of government policy meant that prisoners could be allowed out of the camp to work as labourers. As a result they were employed in constructing the road leading out of Richmond Station, via St. Martins and on to Catterick Camp (Rimington Road).

Catterick Prisoner of War Camp became the administrative headquarters for all ‘working camps’ in the area.

By the end of the war 89,937 prisoners who had served with the German army were interned in camps across the United Kingdom.

Playing card box made by a German PoW at Catterick. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

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