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Report - ISLAND FARM PRISONER OF WAR CAMP: 198 Bridgend, South Wales Sept 2013

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Lenston, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
    Regular User

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    Hard to know where to start with this amazing place, so much history and some amazing stories. Its is easier for me to link a friends website where all the info in located. This was a permission visit as they had an open day over the weekend. The guys are keeping this place going on there own and are close to securing lottery funding to restore this camp to its former glory. Left derelict for years and Bridgend still holds the record for the largest factory in Britain, 42000 people at its peak worked at the factory. They can be contacted here if you would like to get involved and all the other history from the camp

    BRIDGEND GERMAN POW CAMP, ISLAND FARM CAMP 198 / SPECIAL CAMP XI

    A bit of history

    Island Farm Camp was originally built as a hostel for workers employed at the munitions factory in Bridgend. The authorities had believed that the female workers would rather stay nearby than travel as much as 30 miles (48 km) home each day. However, the women preferred to travel than stay in the dreary barrack conditions of the hostel, so the camp remained empty until 1943, when it was used to accommodate American troops who would be involved in the invasion of France.

    The authorities had to find suitable accommodation for a large number of POWs captured in Europe. At Island Farm, the prefabricated concrete huts surrounded by open fields were ideal, although the barracks had to be converted and barbed wire fences erected. This work had not been completed by the time the first batch of prisoners arrived, so the prisoners were put to work completing the conversion.

    Island Farm was designated as Camp 198 and was to hold almost 2,000 prisoners. The first POWs were a mixed bag of Italian and German troops, but the War Office soon decided that the camp was too comfortable for enlisted men and that German officers should be held there. The first officer prisoners arrived in November 1944.

    The POWs soon turned their efforts to escape. Two tunnels were dug in the camp, but the first was discovered in January 1945. The second tunnel escaped detection and on the night of 11 March 1945, 67, 70, or 84 prisoners escaped. All were recaptured; some were found within a few miles of the camp. Others travelled much further, to places like Birmingham and Southampton, over 150 miles (240 km) away.

    Only three weeks after the escape, on 31 March 1945, the authorities suddenly transferred all 1,600 officers out of Island Farm Camp. It was then designated Special Camp Eleven and was prepared to receive senior German officers, many of whom had been captured in France and were awaiting trial at Nuremberg. In all there were 160 officers holding the rank of general, admiral, or field marshal, including a number of Hitler's closest advisers:

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    #1 Lenston, Sep 23, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013

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