Reproductions from published Literature

Illustrations taken from published literature are a useful piece of information on the living

conditions of Prisoners of War confined in British prisons. The drawings and reproductions of

historic photos/paintings are taken from the basic literature, published before World War I. The

sources of the reproductions are given.

Signpost in Huntingdonshire:
Customer and prisoner on the right side of the painting - watched by the guard - bargaining. The model of the blockhouse in his hand looks similar to the model in the picture to the right.
An old Mr. Lewin of Yaxley, born in 1801, two miles from Norman Cross, was accustomed in his boyhood to visit, and get occasional work at, the Depot. When interviewed by the writer in 1894, he thus described the prisoners : " Some of them were very rich " [Lewin himself had been an agricultural labourer all his life], " others very poor. The poor ones used to hang out bags, and would cry, as the people passed by, ' Drop a penny in my bag.' [See the Frontispiece.] They were not dressed in uniform, but in ordinary clothes, some like gentlemen, others like ragmen." " The place," said Lewin, " was like a town. There must have been near 50,000 people there." He was ninety-three when he was describing the prison, and to multiply the figures by ten was probably due to the enchantment which distance casts over experiences eighty years agone.


The morning meal was probably the next incident of the day. The meals can have occupied but little time for those poor fellows, who had nothing more than the daily ration to depend upon ; but probably, although the French Government did nothing to supplement this ration, the French people, as well as the relatives of the various prisoners, would remit money, of which the poorer as well as the well-to-do would reap the benefit. 


the barracks for French prisoners, no less than 6,000 of whom are confined here. It is a fine healthy spot. Among them there is very little disease ; their good looks in general prove the excellent care taken of them. In particular the boys are kept apart and taught, so that in all probability their captivity is a benefit to them. Their dexterity in little handicraft, nick-nacks, particularly in making toys of the bones of their meals, will put many pounds into the pockets of several of them. We were very credibly assured that there are some who will carry away with them 200 or 300. Their behaviour was not at all impudent or disrespectfulas we passed the pallisades within which they are cooped. Most of them have acquired English enough to chatter very volubly and to cheat adroitly. They are guarded by two regiments of Militia, one of them the Cambridge