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First World War

Prisoner of War Interview - Private Richard Wilkinson

An interview of his time as a prisoner of war, which mentions a Dr Cleeve and a Captain H Master of The Queen’s Regiment, survives at The National Archives, WO161/99/143.
Prisoner of War Interview (The National Archives WO161/99/143)

Private Richard Wilkinson, number 7122, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.
Home address: 7 Melbourne Road, Woodville, Lancashire.
Age 35 years old. Soldiers.
Place and date of Capture: 27th August 1914. Ligny
Journey 27th August to 9th September 1914
Journey to Germany took five days; marched to Mons; then trained to Sennelager. During the train journey, lasting 48 hours, we were given dry bread to eat, nothing to drink. There were German wounded in the same train; these were given any attention, but, the wounded British were given nothing, by the Red Cross.
Sennelager 2nd September 1914 – June 1916
Taken to Sennelager, Westphalia, arriving the 2nd September 1914.
About 800 prisoners (British), some 4,000 French.
For the first week we lay in the open – no coverings. Then up to December we were placed in tents. Afterwards in huts. In the hut there were 60 men, being very crowded. The heating was insufficient. There was a horse trough, for washing only – in winter the water being usually frozen. The sanitary arrangements were fairly good. We were employed daily on clearing of wood to make ground fit for cultivation, also the erection of railway lines. No payment for work. There were no attempts to force us to make munitions.
The food supplied by the Germans was very bad. The canteen was closed to the British except for the first week; after the first week, the French were only allowed in the canteen. The packages from England arrived well.
There was no clothing issued before the end of November 1914. Many soldiers were in rags. In the years 1915 and 1916 the clothing arrangements were good. Articles when worn out could be exchanged.
No time for recreation, the working hours being 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Private Wilkinson’s report continues to detail his time in the Camp Hospital from July to November 1915.

See also: 1st Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, Prisoners of War/Princess Mary Gift Tin Roll, 1919

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