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Saturday 17 March 1917 - Work of German prisoners appreciated

Category World War I: Prisoners of War in Evesham
The Evesham Journal
Transcription of article



Several of the illustrated papers have this week published photographs of the German prisoners at work on the land in and around Evesham; perhaps the best selection was in the “Daily Graphic” on Wednesday, and there were some good ones in the “Mirror” on Thursday. The introduction of these prisoners into the Evesham district seems to be proving extremely successful from every point of view. With the exception of one or two who have had colds, all the men have been at work this week, and employers are quite satisfied with them. The fact that the committee already have applications for two hundred men shows that they are being appreciated. The demand  is much greater than the supply, and in the interests of food production it is to be hoped that more prisoners will be allotted to Evesham. One employer alone is making application for the whole eighty men for one or two days to raise parsnips and carrots, in order that the  land may be got ready for potatoes.


Referring to the photographs, the “Daily Mirror” on Thursday stated that the German prisoners get “fourpence an hour and plenty of food.” This way of putting it is of course likely to create a totally wrong impression, and we were not surprised to receive yesterday (Thursday) morning a letter from an Evesham  soldier on the subject. The writer is Corporal F G Cole of the Gloucesters, who is in hospital in Sheffield. He wants to know whether the fourpence per hour is clear, or whether ration money is deducted. He says that if the fourpence per hour is clear, he is more than surprised, seeing that the pre-war rate of pay was 17s to 18s per week for men knowing their business. “As one who has done his bit at one shilling per day (and who will be partially crippled for the rest of his life) I am left wondering what the fighting is for. I may say the feeling in this hospital, at least amongst those who know of this, is anything but complimentary to our Government. I feel keenly on this point, and hope our local body will see into the facts.”

As there may be a good many people under the same impression as Corporal Cole, we  may state that the employer of the prisoners is charged fourpence per hour for them. Of this fourpence the Government gets threepence (which no doubt goes to pay for the cost of their food, etc), and the prisoners themselves get a penny. The amount paid to prisoners of war who are engaged in civilian work is settled by the rules of the Hague Convention.


The public will be doing the scheme a service if they will give up the practice of following the prisoners while they are on the march to and from work; and it is desirable, too, that they shall refrain from  watching them while at work. It should be distinctly understood, also, that  under no circumstances are the public allowed to give the prisoners food or drink or to hold any communication with them.