Saturday, 7 January 2017

Allied PoWs in German Hands 1914-1918

This book turned up on my desk just before Christmas and I must say I've enjoyed flicking through it. I have a particular interest in the British PoWs of 1914 and have compiled a number of PoW databases, and so this book will be a useful addition to my library and will sit happily alongside another Pen & Sword title: Tracing your Prisoner of War Ancestors (below).

This is primarily a photographic essay which deals with both military prisoners and also civilian internees, principally those detained at Ruhleben. In as far as it goes, the book is fine, but to my mind it could have gone a little further. The bibliography is helpful, but would have been more helpful still had it pointed the reader to online resources for PoWs such as those on Findmypast and the reports in WO 161 which are held at The National Archives (and also published on Findmypast). It would have been helpful too to see more detail, particularly dates, against the photographs, although I appreciate that in many cases, that detail may not exist in the originals.

Personally, I would have liked to understand more about the men's uniforms - plenty of which are illustrated - the variation to those uniforms, the mix of nationalities in camps; more about the internment of men in Switzerland and the Netherlands, and the repatriation progress both during and after the war. As I say, as far as the book goes it is good enough and certainly worth the £14.99 investment (or £12 if you hop along quickly now to the Pen & Sword website), and as the title makes clear, this is more than just a book about British PoWs. Our allies, and in the case of the French, men from their colonies, are also well represented here.

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