Lost German POW letters are discovered

LOST letters from German prisoners of war who were held captive in the North East have been discovered after over 60 years.

German POW, prisoners of war, war letters

LOST letters from German prisoners of war who were held captive in the North East have been discovered after over 60 years.

Over 4,000 German officers were held at Camp 18 at Featherstone, near Haltwhistle, Northumberland, after the Second World War.

Hundreds of the soldiers would regularly leave the camp to work on local farms, and it was here that friendships were formed.

Tynedale farmer Thomas Moore has unearthed letters and black and white photographs sent by former prisoners of war to his father after the German men had returned home.

The two men who wrote describe how they look back fondly on their time in England and tell of the terrible post-war conditions in Germany following the fall of Adolf Hitler.

Mr Moore, 61, who farms at Slaggyford, in the South Tyne Valley, said: “I am too young have been alive when the war was on but I remember my dad telling me about the prisoners coming to work.

“He said, despite the war, everyone generally got along all right and they worked hard.

“The letters are fascinating and, at times, are quite heartfelt. Conditions in Germany after the war were terrible and they both speak of how little food there is, and they asked my dad if he could help.

“They are a fascinating insight into what the conditions were like in Germany after the war.

“Reading them sends a shiver down your spine.”

One letter, dated November 9, 1947, from Hans Taubert, tells how he had a “lovely time” working on the farm and that he would “like to be in merry old England once more” because of the terrible conditions in Germany.

He then writes that food is scarce in Germany and asks if Mr Moore’s father, the late Archie Moore, could send a parcel.

A second letter, dated January 12, 1948, thanks Mr Moore for a parcel he sent and says his wife wept when it arrived. He goes on to say that his wife is due to give birth in 10 days and includes a photograph of him and his wife.

Another letter found is from Dietrich von Massenbach, and dated November 11, 1948.

He thanks Mr Moore for a parcel he has been sent and says his wife is 18lb underweight because of rationing.

He writes how his wife has gone to the Russian zone of Germany to retrieve some furniture, and described it as “hell”.

Post-war Germany was divided into four zones until 1949, run by allied forces from Britain, France, Russia and the United States.

Mr Moore added: “It’s a shame we don’t know what happened to the men and their families.

“I found the letters in a trunk in the back of a cupboard when I was tidying.

“I have no idea if my dad and the men carried on writing to each other. I’ve turned the house upside down looking for more but these are all that seem to remain.

“It would be interesting to find out more about the men – we don’t even know what rank they were.

“I’m keen now to try to get in touch with the families of these men.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer