Glen Mill Prisoner of War camp, Oldham, Lancashire

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Glen Mill PoW Camp, Oldham

A visit to the site of Glen Mill Prisoner of War camp in Lees, Oldham, Winter 2013.

Update August 2015. People frequently contribute to this history of Glen Mill PoW camp with their memories of the place, pictures, requests for information, etc. This month I’ve received some very welcome images including watercolour sketches by a PoW called Friedrich Fraubose of Hildesheim, painted while he was at Glen Mill. They have recently been discovered and kindly provided by Mr James Farrell.

Please see Britain at War for details of a couple PoW and internment camps at Bury
and Air Raids & Bomb Sites for a few photos and stories about air raids on Oldham.

Photo above; is looking towards the site of Glen Mill from the line of the now dismantled railway.

Below; a train passing Glen Mill in 1955.

Below; Glen Mill from the cemetery.

One of the main prisoner of war camps in the north west of England, the now demolished Glen Mill was situated between Wellyhole Street / Constantine Street and the River Medlock at Lees in Oldham (Grid Ref SD 949 049).

These photos were taken January 2013 during a visit to look for traces of the camp. There is not much left, though some local people were able to confirm the spot.

It is possible to find bits of concrete and iron which date from the war and piles of red brick from the now demolished mill.

Below; This first photo shows a new wall on top of what was a pill box overlooking the main entrance. There is a similar mound just next to it.

Below; Bit of metal jutting out of the ground in the woods between the camp and the river.

Below; Fence post. Some iron gates nearby appear to date from the war too.

The camp could accommodate around 6,000 inmates and during the course of the war was home to a largely transient population of German and Italian prisoners and also some Russians who had been fighting for the Nazis.

Christmas 1942 saw the camp filled with Italians captured at Libya, while the summer of 1944 saw the camp filled with Germans captured at Normandy.

Below; Remains of drainage system

The April 2013 issue of Britain at War magazine tells the story of prisoner Paul Hartmann who was shot dead by Gunner J A Jaffray in February 1945. The incident came after a roll call lasting hours and during which the Germans had obstructed the counting to cover up an escape attempt.

As rain began to fall, the inmates started shuffling forward towards Gunner Jaffray who was at a sentry post and armed with a Lee Enfield .303 rifle. At the inquest, the British said the Germans were restless and being obstructive, refusing to obey orders, singing Nazi songs and insulting the guards. The Germans said they were singing love songs and were not abusing the guards at all!

Either way, Gunner Jaffray challenged the prisoners to halt in their advance towards him. He was ignored and believing he was about to be over-run by the mass of prisoners, he fired from the hip into the crowd. The bullet struck 18 years old Paul Hartmann, killing him instantly.

The article quotes Unteroffizier Fritz Hermann Scheer; “We were jumping about to keep warm. Suddenly I heard a report and felt something on my face. I put my hand up and found blood and bone splinters on my face. My eye and cheek were cut by splinters. In my eye it was metal, in my face it was bone.”

Gunner Jaffray was exonerated at the inquest the following April. That same month, an Italian prisoner of war at Bury was hailed as a hero for giving his life to save that of a young girl from drowning in the River Irwell.

Please see the image below from the Daily Herald showing PoWs giving the Nazi salute at Paul Hartman’s funeral.

Below; Photos taken at Glen Mill POW camp on Christmas Eve 1940. Photos used with IWM Non-Commercial Licence.

The same day these photos were taken, just a few miles away in Manchester, fire crews were dealing with the results of Luftwaffe bombing raids on the city. This is Piccadilly. Click on this link for more about air raids on Manchester.

This is part of a Luftwaffe map (from the British Library) for Manchester, showing the camp circled with a note for bomber crews to avoid hitting the area. The note says “Achtung Deutsches Gefangenenlager in Oldham – Leeds” (“Attention German prison camp in Oldham – Leeds”; the cartographer confusing the Oldham place name Lees with that of the city of Leeds)


The British Library.

MORE

My photos and story of the German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire

Prisoner of War camp at Bury.

A couple of stories of escape attempts from Glen Mill at the foot of this page and the following page has a bit more on Gunner Jaffray and Paul Hartmann.

And this page tells of some of the tensions between the Germans and Russians. It does however refer to a successful escape with the POWS making it back to Germany but to my knowledge no Wehrmacht or SS prisoners ever successfully escaped from Britain during WWII.

This map shows many of the POW camps in Britain. There was one near you!

UPDATES AUGUST 2015

These 5 images have been provided by James Farrell and are used here with his kind permission. Earlier this summer, Jim was visiting an antiques shop in Bristol and the lady who runs it said she had something “a bit special” which might interest him. It was a sketchbook which has on the front cover the name Friedrich Fraubose and a watercolour painting of the town of Hildesheim which is south of Hannover. Jim says “the book contains a watercolour cartoon history of approx 30 pages from when he first arrived to when he left Glen Mill. The front pages of the book also contain watercolours of places in Germany.”

It is really interesting to get a glimpse Glen Mill from the perspective of the prisoners of war.

Jim also purchased a plaque which has the crest of the Dorsetshire Regiment at centre, with two swastikas, a Luftwaffe eagle emblem top left (without a swastika in its claws) and a German eagle emblem bottom right, again with no swastika. Jim says “The plaque is made of wood and probably made from a cupboard door, it has been made and painted extremely skilfully, and is signed with the initials FF in the bottom RH corner.”

(NB; Jim has kindly sent me all 31 images. I have uploaded all these in a separate page, please see here)

The plaque has the words OLDHAM KRIEGSGEFANGENSCHAFT ENGLAND – kriegsgefangenschaft means prisoner of war.

Below; Front cover;

Below; a couple of examples from the book The caption refers to the morning head count to make sure no-one had escaped during the night.

Below; This looks like a carpentry workshop. Note the patches on the uniforms, which were a way of grading prisoners. Compare this sketch with the photo above of PoWS outside Glen Mill carrying sacks; you can see the same patches on the legs of their uniforms.

Below; the plaque

Below; The same day I received the pictures of the sketchbook, I also received this photo of a tankard presented to Lieutenant Colonel W S Tanner OBE, TD of the Royal Pioneer Corps on the occasion of his retirement in 1947. By this time, Glen Mill was a transit camp. Photo courtesy of Dave H and used with his kind permission.


EDIT SEPTEMBER 2016

Below is a copy of a handwritten account kindly provided by Mr Steven Kay from his late aunt Mabel Entwistle and refers to her husband John (Jack) Entwistle who was caretaker at Springhead Drill Hall, now Springhead Community Centre (21 Ashes Lane, Springhead, Oldham OL4 4PF).

The account mentions two PoWS from Glen Mill. It is included here as it adds more to what we know about the relationship between some of the prisoners and the people of Oldham.

Mabel wrote “My husband was invalided out of the Army 1946? & given a job looking after Springhead Drill Hall & lived in the adjoining house. Winter of 1947 very harsh the approach to drill hall was snowed up every morning 2 prisoners from Glen Mill were sent to clear the snow. The one who spoke English best was Paul Lebau who had been a PoW for some years, some of them spent in Canada before coming to Glen. He found it an enjoyable change and couldn’t do enough for us at the Drill Hall. On March 1st that year my sister was getting married & we were attending and going in our own little Morris 8? (it was the day before). The PoW was to journey back to Germany for repatriation & his last job he did for us was to polish the little car until it shone, in appreciation for getting him one or two things like coffee etc at the shop as they were non existant in Germany.
The other POW was more of a boy & though Paul had a wife back home this boy lived with his mother & when finally returned home I received a very grateful letter from his mother thanking me for showing kindness to him.
My husband and myself went living in Canada in 1953 & Paul Lebau & us corresponded together.”



UPDATE 29 May 2017

Photo kindly provided by David Lonnergan showing the funeral of Paul Hartmann, the PoW referred to above who was killed by a shot from a guard’s rifle during a disturbance at the camp.

149 comments on “Glen Mill Prisoner of War camp, Oldham, Lancashire
  1. rob finch says:

    Incredible – I had no idea about this Ian.
    For a few years my son lived just outside Oldham. I’ll have to ask him if he knew anything about it.
    Great work as always. Rob 🙂

  2. Ang Wickham says:

    I am, again, super impressed with how this site gives the perfect professional finish to all the dog-work, research, reading, referencing and compiling that is behind an amazing account such as this. The easy read layout, easy view picture stream and ability to link relevant or similar info is fantastic.

    This story itself is both typical [POW events] and amazing [6000 prisoners .. and yet over time the history dissipates and dissolves all recognition of it ever being there!]. That you visited in winter, seems to add to the bleak nature of POW life, that concept further enhanced by the bw photos provided.

    A great ‘awareness’ post, done well and for posterity.

  3. David h says:

    Great info on this site , I had a look at it about a year ago and only found the pill box you pictured , but I do have a tankard which was given to the commanding officer of the camp by the guards when it was to be closed

  4. Chris Jones says:

    When I first skim-read the title I thought, ‘they named a prison camp after Glenn Miller? How bizarre’, then re-read it and realised my stupidity, had a little chuckle to myself and wiki’ed Glenn Miller – died, missing in action, when his aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel as he was flying to entertain US troops in France. I had no idea.

  5. loraine smith says:

    great to read about Glen Mill as I have been trying to find my fathers history he was a guard there at the end of the war.

    • Ian D B says:

      Pleased you found what you were looking for Loraine!

      Ian.

    • J M Hale says:

      Hi Lorraine. Was interested to read your father was a guard at Glen mill at the end of the war. So too was my Grandfather Jack Schofield! I don’t often come across the history of the camp too often, so was pleased to find this website!
      Jacqueline M Hale

  6. Charles Widdall says:

    Me now 70 years old but seem to remember my father telling me about a local character called ‘Jock Kirby’ who was reputedly a sergeant over the guards at Glen Mill, a typical tough looking bull of a man, Who, when the local lassies threw chocolate and gifts over the barbed wire at Christmas time threatened to shoot any prisoner who picked them up! then went and collected it all and distributed it to the local children.Indeed some of the prisoners did not go back to Germany after the war but stayed in England and married local girls.

    • Ian D B says:

      Indeed they did Charles! Bert Trautmann – who played for Man City and who died only a few months ago – being one such example, he was at a camp in Ashton.

      Thanks for adding your Dad’s memories of Jock Kirby, I love it when people add details like that to these stories.

      A colleague at work was telling me the other day that a member of his family recalled that when there was an air raid over Oldham (see the Air raids and Bomb Sites section; Oldham had plenty) people would feel quite safe near Glen Mill because the Luftwaffe would do what they could to avoid bombing the area.

      Ian

      • SusAn Smith says:

        Hi Ian,
        Bert Trautmann was a prisoner of war at Ashton in Makerfield between St. Helens and Wigan. I say this just in case people think it’s Ashton under Lyne. Before signing for Man City, he played for St. Helens Town F.C. (Not the Saints though!)

        Regards, Sue

  7. Peter Jones says:

    I lived in Lees in the 1960’s and 1970’s and remember the mill very well.
    I lived in Turner St and you could see the mill from my bedroom window, at a good pace I could be in the grounds in 4-5 minutes.
    The mill was derelict but in sound condition and us kids used to go ‘exploring’ there quite a lot, it was very big, very empty and extremely spooky.
    At this time there were still several ‘Pill Boxes’ near the mill perimeter and on the opposite side of Wellyhole St across from the mill was the ‘cooler’ building containing cells for naughty prisoners.
    I remember the mill and chimney coming down in the 1970’s to be replaced by what seems to be a forested area along the path of the Medlock.
    Quite a few German POW’s from the mill settled in Lees and Saddleworth after the war.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks for adding that Peter. Am quite envious, as a kid I would love to have explored and played in a place like that…

      Never mind ‘as a kid’; I’d like to do it now!

      It’s a shame most of the mills have gone. 25 years ago wherever you looked there were mills and chimneys in every direction but they are a rare sight now.

    • Patricia Clarke says:

      Where would be this “cooler” building be Peter? l lived just off Wellyhole from 1958 to 1969 when they were being demolished,but can’t think where this must have been unless its where the Nuffield Centre was.

      • Peter Jones says:

        Hello Patricia,
        The ‘Cooler’ was a single story blockhouse type building on the opposite side of the road to the mill.
        It was past the Nuffield Centre (but on the same side of the road)and from the outside it resembled an above ground air raid shelter in red brick.
        Inside the cell partitions had been pulled down but the individual barred windows of the cells were still there and it didn’t take much imagination to see what the original purpose of the building was.
        I was told of the purpose of this building by the father of a school friend who had been a prisoner at the mill during the war and who settled in the village afterwards.

        • Pat Clarke says:

          Thank you for your reply Peter.l know where you mean now.ln fact there was another one just behind that one further up the hill.

    • Pat Clarke says:

      Was there any footage of the mill and chimney coming down Peter?I lived on Wellyhole st.50s and 60s leaving in 1970 when the houses started being demolished.

  8. Doug Charnley says:

    The Germans may have marked the Glen Mill on there maps, but they still bombed the area. Across Lees road at the bottom of Wellyhole Steet is Breeze Hill Road and about 100 feet up the bank was a bomb crater. I was told by my father who used to live at the end of Breeze Hill Road and used to walk by the crater every time we went to see my grand mother, this was back in the early 50’s. When I was living off Huddersfield Road in Waterhead, the next door neighbor was a German sailor who had been a prisoner at Glen Mill.

    • Ian D B says:

      I’m sure. Given the air raid on Oldham of October 12 1941 when 27 people were killed in less than two hours it would be expecting too much of any bomber crew (certainly at that stage of the war) to be able to avoid a small specific area.

      Thanks for adding that detail Doug. I wonder if your German sailor neighbour had been on a U-boat? A lucky escape for him if so – something like 75% of all 40,000 U-boat crews were killed in action.

      Ian

      http://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-raids-bomb-sites/then-and-now-oldham-13th-october-1941/

    • kurt richard heckermann says:

      Hello Doug I guess your second name is Charnley and that your mum and dad wher called Bill and Agnes if so they were my god parents as I am the son of the sailor who lived next door to you at spring hill,you told me off when I was little for playing with your model aeroplanes sadly both my parents are dead now but that’s just life hope you and yours are o.k.

      • Doug Charnley says:

        Hi Kurt Sorry about my tardiness in replying forgot to click the notification button. Yes my mother and father were Bill and Agnes. My parents are dead also. Your dad used to make a great burger with onions in fact I can still taste them. On FB?

      • Susan Smith says:

        Hi Kurt,

        Am I correct in thinking that you are the son of Ann and Egon Heckerman? Your cousin came into Oldham Local Studies back in about 2008 after I requested any information on the Glen Mill POW Camp in the Oldham Chronicle and the Oldham Advertiser. Quite a number of people came to give their stories and memories of the camp. The display boards are still available to see as are the transcriptions of the people who contributed to the exhibition at the Local Studies and Archives which is at 84 Union Street, (the old post office building. We look forward to seeing you,
        Sue

        • kurt says:

          HI SUSAN, sorry I have taken so long to get back to you but I only visit site every now and then as Oldham does not hold very many good memories for me but was nice to read your comments if you want to contact me feel free.kurt

      • Deborah Rosenthal says:

        Hello Kurt how have you been. It’s been over 27 years since we last spoke. I’m one of the twins if you have a Email address it would be nice to have a catch up

        • kurt says:

          Hi Deborah,yes 27 years is a long time don’t get on this site very often my email is myprickelyhedgehog@gmail.com if you want to chat,dont know if you are in touch with Julie but she left a message on this site but as I don’t visit very often only just got it.well will say bye for now as I am just about to go to work hope all is well with you and yours and if we don’t speak have a merry xmas.and a happy new year.

      • julie smith says:

        Kurt or is it Richard now can you contact me regarding dad and house on smith street Julie

      • Nadine Heckermann says:

        The sailor was my Grandad and Anne my grandmother, I unfortunately never got to meet them, amazing how I just came across this Wow

      • Nadine Heckermann says:

        Hello Kurt, I believe you are my uncle, am I right that Karl is your brother, he marred my mum Gail, and they had myself and Paul, hope to hear from you, maybe not as so long since post was up

        • kurt richard heckermann says:

          hi Nadine yes I am your uncle and karls brother although I have not had any contact with him for over 28 years in fact it was our fathers funeral.nowt so queer as folk,i used to look after paul and yourself when you where tiny I can still smell the nappies lol.

  9. Doug Charnley says:

    Karl was on U-boats and from what I remember gave himself up at he first opportunity.

  10. Susan Smith says:

    I compiled a small exhibition regarding the Glen Mill POW camp a few years ago. The display is available to see at the Oldham Local Studies and Archives, 84 Union Street, Oldham, tel: 0161 770 4654; opening times can be found on our website:

    http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200276/local_studies_and_archives

    A number of people talked of their memories and of the friends they made of the prisoners. Their reminiscences are available to read also.
    One prisoner, Kurt Geiger, donated a large folder containing letters he sent to friends he made in Oldham after the war. He visited the Local Studies in the 1990’s.
    Sue Smith

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Susan, sounds interesting, next time I am in Oldham I shall take a look at that. Is it a permanent exhibition?

    • Doug Charnley says:

      Hi Susan Do you have any of your exhibits online that way us Oldhamer’s who live out of the country, cannot jump on a number 98 bus and pop in and have a view of what is on display.

      • Susan Smith says:

        Dear Doug, thank you for your interest in the Glen Mill. Unfortunately, the small exhibition is not available online we’ve not yet got around to publishing exhibitions on the internet, but who knows, when we open the new archives building things may change.

        Regards Sue

  11. Colin Hancock says:

    Carlo Depotrillo the barber on Middleton rd Royton, his grandfather was an Italian P.O.W. at Glen mill, I worked with Geovarni(John) on Oldham Buses, he cam to Oldham because his father said, Oldham people are the friendliest people on Earth and if he was comming to England he had to come to Oldham.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Colin. Probably the warmest recommendation for Oldham I have read! My memories of Oldham are not that friendly; away at Boundary Park on a cold December evening being beat 4 nil.

      : (

  12. Eric Tankard says:

    I. Used to work and lodge with a Karl Leir. At broadband farm watersheadings, He had married Mrs Tounge (widow) she had a son called David, we all worked window cleaning in oldham. Mills shops houses. I used to clean all the shops on union still on Saturdays. Before they opened. For business. Karl was a prisoner of war at glen mill. Glen mill used to make foam rubber in the 50s.

  13. Your site as regards Glen Mill i am doing a project for a lady who work on the site when it was a training centre as is very keen in finding more about it.

  14. Sylvia (nee Cadd) says:

    Hi Ian ……….

    I posted part of this on the Abbey Hill Road bombing site.

    I lived on Kingsbridge Road until 1951, then we moved to Waterhead and lived not that far from Glen Mill.

    I went on a Counthill Grammar School ski trip to Kitzbuehl in Austria over New Year 1956/57.

    It turned out that our ski instructor (an Austrian) had been a POW at Glen Mill. He must have been around 34/35 at the time that we met him

    He asked us all kinds of questions about Oldham “now”, as he had very fond memories of his time in the camp. He had been only too glad to be captured, and sent to England. We tend to forget that many of those men were unwilling conscripts.

    He mentioned a local lady who used to invite 2 or 3 (or 4) POWs to her house for afternoon tea, usually on a Sunday I think. I remember that lady, though I cannot now remember her name ………….. but she was much reviled at the time for being friendly to “those men”.

    He also told us that the men had built a tennis court at the Mill, so that they would have somewhere to play and get exercise. He wanted to know if the court was still there, because they had built it with such care and to last.

    None of us felt like telling him that it had been demolished ………… so we lied, and told him the court was still there and still in use.

    He was so glad to talk to people from Oldham that he spent all the evening of New Year’s Eve with us.

    • Ian D B says:

      It’s great that you recall the ski instructor from Kitzbuel. Again your memory of what he told you is sound, many PoWs were gradually allowed out and into the community and had tea with ladies, perched on the edge of the settee, nervously sipping their tea. But fraternisation beyond that was not allowed – staying over or having romantic relations though it happened of course.

      Near where I live in Bury there was outrage when German PoWs from a nearby camp were allowed to join in the Christmas Carol service that year. I think Italian PoWs were better accepted, though the ones in Bury were not popular with the men because they WERE popular with the girls! But yes, many were invited into people’s homes for tea as a sort of rehabilitation. Please see the photo of Warth Camp and Burrs Camp for more on PoWs in the Bury area.

      I smiled when you said you didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him the court was still there. I would like to think I’d have done the same. I recall my dad, who was a sailor during the war, telling me about how some PoWs they captured from a U-boat made a provisions net to occupy themselves and how it was a shame that they never quite finished it because the work they did was of such quality, proper ropework he said, an old and respected naval tradition that had nothing to do with Nazism.

      Lovely to hear from you Sylvia, thank you so much for sharing your memories, of the V1 on Oldham and of your ski-instructor when you were a schoolgirl. Good to get all this stuff down. It was long before my time, but I love finding traces of the war and recording them and memories such as yours.

      Ian

  15. Alan Chapman says:

    My Grandad Samuel Chapman was a CQMS in the Pioneer Corp and a Guard at the Camp being aged 51 at the time. Sadly, in Sept 1943 he suffered a heart attack in the Mess there having just returned from leave from home in Liverpool He had a funeral at Bootle Cemetery and notice in Walton Times states floral tributes from No.2 Guard Glen Mill Camp and Lieut Col H A Dennison MC and Officers at Glen Mill Camp. Can send photo and scanned article to anyone who wants the them for record.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Alan,
      Thank you very much for your comment. I’d be happy to include a copy of the article and photo in this narrative if you wish, the more history we can preserve and present on the internet the better. My e-mail address is here
      Ian

    • Frances Bradburn says:

      I would appreciate the photo etc you mentioned.
      Best wishes
      Frances Bradburn

  16. Tracey Annette says:

    My dad loved this story. He was a small boy during the war. He is currently in a respite home in Lees and on a short walk a local told us about Glen Mill and shared his memories. It was lovely being able to share your story with him.
    Thank you.
    My father’s name is Arnold Hill. Born in Newton Heath.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Tracey, thank you very much for writing and for showing this page to your Dad.

      Please pass on my regards to him.

      Ian

      • Tracey Annette says:

        I will. He’s asked me to find out more about Glen Mill. As a young girl I loved his stories about the air raids and looking for shrapnel. His sister (still alive too) used to date a yank, today dad recalled his full name.
        The assistant at the care home is going to do a memory session on Glen Mill with it being local.
        Look what we’ve started. Lol

        • Ian D B says:

          It’s all good, great to ask that generation to tell us their stories. They have been with us all these years but even those who were kids during the war are in their 80s now.

          I am in adult social work, whenever I get the chance to ask people what they recall of the war I always do. People tell me all kinds of stuff; a WAAF from London who was also dating an American, she took a joy ride in a Flying Fortress bomber (the type in Memphis Belle). I wanted to know more, but she hated it, she said the smell of the engines made her sick and she fell out with her boyfriend over it! In Oldham I once met a man who was with the South Lancs Regiment, he was one of the first ashore at Sword Beach on D-day. He couldn’t understand why I wanted to shake his hand!

          Yes it would be good if the care assistant at the care home does that. She can get them to add their tales on here if they want, then there’s a record of it somewhere. Can easily ask the people contributing whether they want to remain anonymous or whatever.

  17. Frances Bradburn says:

    When I was a child living in Oldham, my parents used to give a Christmas dinner to 2 German POWs from glem mill. That would be around 1942/3. They used to bring a small gift. One was a letter opener made from old plastic tooth brush handles. Very colourful !
    Regards
    Frances Bradburn

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Frances, thanks for your visit and comment. Interesting to read of the rehabilitation of German PoWs and of your parents’ attitude; great they were willing to share Christmas with them. It was an enlightening idea, having the enemy visit people in their homes for a cup of tea or a meal.

  18. Frances Bradburn says:

    Is there such a thing as a list of POW at Glen Mill ? If there is – how do I access it ?
    Thank you
    Frances B

    • Ian D B says:

      Not that I am aware of Frances. I have been asked this before and it is very hard to find info about PoWS.

      This National Archives guide might give you some ideas but it’s notoriously difficult to trace individual men.

      http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/pow-displaced-persons.htm

      This page about Glen Mill PoW camp is viewed often so someone in Oldham may come along who knows of something?

      • Susan Smith says:

        Hi Ian and Frances.

        I could not find a list of POW’s from the Glen, but there is a possibility that there may be a list held by the International Red Cross. It was their job to visit POW camps run by the allies and the axis countries and they also reported on the conditions of the camps and made sure that the prisoners received their letters and parcels.

        Regards, Sue

  19. Alan Muldowney says:

    I was born under there shadow of the glen mill in Roman st one of the adjacent street to Wellyhole st and Constantine st ( the local name for Constantine st was the “bunk ” and still is as far as I know?) wether or not this from the guard bunkers on the side of Constantine st overlooking the millI can’t tell but I lived there from ’49 to ’53 and returned to live in Wellyhole st in 1965. The mill was used after the prisoners of war had left by a company called Vitafoam that made some of the earliest English made aerated or expanded foam for various uses. My father worked there for a while as did my cousins . My earliest recollections of the Mill was playing Games on Empire day on the adjoining croft with both the soldiers and the inmates,We would play leap frog in teams and foot races with the Mill in the background . As I was born in ’49 the POW would have been waiting repatriation .
    My earliest visual recollection is of the mill chimney that (what looked like from the ground and some distance away ) had a brick missing right at the top rim said to have been knocked out by lightening? On reflection now it must have been a lot more than just one to be seen from the distance of Roman St.

    • Pat Clarke says:

      You will probably know my cousin Jack Gough,Alan.He was born in 38/39 and lived at my grans on Egyptian st.up to getting married in 1963.I remember her telling me about the prisoners being marched down Wellyhole st and across Egyptian st.down Stanley brew into Lees and surrounding area’s to do various jobs.My mum also worked there when it was Vitafoam and when l sometime’s went to meet her,had my first encounter with a black person.

  20. Frances Bradburn says:

    Thank you one and all for the information you have provided. I have emailed the I Red Cross. Any further information I get will be shared on this website
    Best wishes
    Frances Bradburn

  21. It was very interesting reading your article about Glen Mill and seeing the photos. As a young boy I used to play in the Pill Boxes which ringed the site.

    My Grandfather served in the Lancashire Fusiliers throughout the war and when he eventually returned home POW’s were still housed at Glen Mill until they could be repatriated. During this time they were allowed out of camp to walk around the area. One day my grandad and my grandma’s brother, who had also served away in the war, got chatting with a small group of German soldiers. My grandfather and one of the Germans, who was called Willi, became good friends and he would call at my Grandfather and Grandmothers house on regular occasions.

    When Willi was able to return to Germany, they kept in touch by letter. Willi and his wife had a son around the same time that my father was born and my grandparents and Willi’s family would exchange gifts for each others sons. One such item that I always remember as a child was a hand-carved wooden canoe with an American Indian sat rowing. It had been sent as a gift for my father.

    Eventually my grandparents lost contact with Willi, which they always believed was the result of the iron curtain being drawn across Germany.

    This story which my grandparents told had a significant impact on me. These young men (my Grandfather and Willi) were soldiers who, not long before, had been on opposing sides and had seen bitter and bloody fighting, and yet after they had laid down their arms, became true friends. It is not the common man who sends us to war, but those in positions of power and influence who have much to gain from sending men into the arena of conflict.

    As the author of a local book named Saddleworth Discovery Walks, I am now working on a new title which will explore the history and heritage of Oldham. One of the walks in my next book passes the site of the former Glen Mill POW camp, the history of which I will be including within the pages, in order that younger generations will know of the camps location and history.

    Once again, thank you for posting the information and photo’s, which are of great interest.

    C. Maylor
    info@saddleworthdiscoverywalks.co.uk

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Christian,

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment.

      These stories of friendships springing up between the Pow and the public are very common. It is a phenomenon of the war between Britain and Germany, that respect for the individual if not the nation or the politics they represented. For example, my dad served in the Royal Navy during the war, he saw the Hood blow up and sink in minutes with the loss of all but 3 sailors on board and saw his mates killed in battle yet married a German woman shortly after the war’s end (not my mother, his first wife died in the early 1960s).

      I am reading a book now about British sailors in WWII, and have just read an account of the destruction of a warship, the British determined to sink the ship. But when the German survivors were struggling to swim to the British ship, one RN sailor risked his own life and jumped in fully clothed to assist his enemy in the water! My dad used to say he hated the Germans in battle, he wanted them dead. But when they were prisoners on his ship, he had respect for them and had a laugh with them. Allied air crews often said the same.

      Anyway thank you very much for your memories, great story about Willi. Best of luck with your book. We may have taken this history for granted all our lives, but that generation has now nearly gone and what physical remains there are on the ground will lose their meaning and relevance if we don’t write about them!

      By the way, I take it you know of the various air crash sites around Saddleworth? There are half a dozen or so on the moors above Oldham, most with some wreckage remaining. Let me know if you need any grid references.

      Ian

      • Chris says:

        Hi Ian,

        Thank you for your reply to the info which I added to the site back in October 2014. How time flies. It’s been some time since i last visted the site, but today thought I’d have a catch up. It’s nice to see more info and stories are being added all of the time.

        I completed my second book, Oldham Discovery Walks, last Christmas, in which I included a walk which passes the site of the Glen Mill POW camp. I gave the camp a mention in order to document it’s existence and let people know where it was sited.

        Thank you for the offfer of providing grid references for some of the crash sites on the moors around Saddleworth. I’m aware of some but it’s always useful to have info about others. I’d be very grateful if you are able to provide grid references and any information which you consider useful.

        I’ll try to follow the comments on this site more regularly in future, as it’s a wealth of interest.

        Thanks again and best wishes,

        Chris Maylor

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Chris, has it been two years already? Blimey. Yeah, the readers of this page in particular do provide lots more info about Glen Mill than is recorded in history books and elsewhere, personal accounts are unbeatable.

          Re; crash sites, I will get some grid refs to you soon.

          Best wishes,

          Ian

  22. Frances Bradburn says:

    Sorry. Think I sent this email re photo to the wrong person.
    Best wishes
    Frances Bradburn

  23. Susan Smith says:

    Thank you for that Frances, I hope they will be able to provide names. I think we all look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Sue

  24. Frances Bradburn says:

    Sadly – no joy from IRC re queries about POW @ Glen Mill.
    I will persevere with my research & hopefully get the information I am looking for.
    Thank you
    Frances B

  25. Susan Smith says:

    Thank you for trying anyway

    Sue

  26. Mary says:

    Hi Ian
    I have been searching the web for information about German POWs. I’m writing a novel set in the UK in the 1940s. Do you know when POWs started working on farms etc,? When I came across your site I got excited since you give interesting facts, but it seems those prisoners you write about stayed put! I will continue to do a search,but if you have any knowledge of when prisoners actually worked I would appreciate it.
    Sincerely
    Mary

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Mary,

      I shall also take a look at the books I have to try to determine when German PoWS started working in public and get back to you.

      I think the answer is around 1941 after the threat of invasion had passed and it also depended on the strength of the political conviction of the inmate and their escape risk. There are a couple of other stories in this set (Britain at War) about PoW camps which may help.

      I also think Italian PoWS had more chance of being able to work outside the camps than Germans but that may just be with regards the particular stories I have researched. You will know of course that the further north the camp, generally the higher risk grading for the prisoner, though it won’t have been as clear cut as that I’m sure.

      The details you need then are a) when and where German PoWS worked in the camp; b) worked outside the camp with supervision; c) worked outside the camp without supervision?

      Ian

  27. Mary says:

    Hi Ian
    Thank you for your prompt reply. That is so kind of you. Yes your last sentence captures what I would like to know.

    I have done quite a bit of research and have a file to prove it. But the background story has to be correct even though the characters are fictional.

    Thank you again
    Mary

  28. Ian D B says:

    Hi Mary,

    I was going to send this as an email but the details may be of interest to people reading about Glen Mill so will post it here.

    The dilemma the government had was the need for labour – v – breaching the Geneva Convention (PoWs could not do work contributing to the war effort) / the risk of escape / upsetting the people of Britain.

    It does seem to be the case that Italian POWs had better chances of being able to leave the camps and had more freedoms, especially after the Italian surrender in September 1943.

    However, you ask about German POWs not Italian PoWS. I have struggled to find evidence of German PoWs being able to work off-site before 1945. There are numerous references to German PoWS working on farms etc from April 1945.

    Before 1943, there are references to the majority of German PoWS being shipped (against their will given the risk of U-boat attack) to North America for security reasons.

    Where PoWS (Italian and German) were allowed off-site, they were subjected to rules which gradually eased during the post war years to 1947 by which time one source says “around 250,000 German POWs had been repatriated, but 24,000 decided to stay in Britain.” The rules included not being allowed to travel on public transport, not having currency, going in pubs and restaurants, not attending football matches, not staying out overnight, not fraternising with British women etc. The reports from people on these pages whereby German PoWS were invited to have tea with civilians appears to be a post war scheme.

    Best resource, you will have seen this already I expect, says;
    “They would then be sent to various camps around the country and for the fervent Nazis this would sometimes mean a camp in the wilds of Scotland where they would be put to agricultural work on farms…
    Every prisoner could work if he so wished and would usually be detailed to do farm work, which would involve hedging, ditching and harvesting, construction work or clearing bomb damage etc.”

    It should be noted that ‘bomb damage’ work is likely to refer to work later in the war or after the war, certainly not during the Blitz years.

    It continues, “During their working hours they would (if working on farms) be under the direct command of the farmer to whom they were employed. Construction work was also carried out by the prisoners as within their ranks were tradesmen who before the war worked in the construction industry. In Britain at the time there was something of a housing crisis due to the recent bombing campaign by the Germans and it was estimated that 4 million homes were destroyed which would have to be replaced.”

    That same website also has reference to some resistance tactics by the German PoWS at Glen Mill though as mentioned it also refers to some PoWS escaping and making it back to Hamburg which I believe is inaccurate. Source http://www.radiomarconi.com/marconi/monumento/pow/pows.html

    Another source says that “381,000 German POWs were employed at peak in summer 1946 in Britain” representing 2% of the British workforce and 10% of the rural labour force.

    However in and among all the anecdotes I have referring to German PoWs one from Christmas 1944 is reported on these pages, with a lad recalling the name of the German PoW he had befriended and a conversation he had after a V1 Flying Bomb had landed at Radcliffe;

    “Lots of us kids were there. The night before, I heard the engine cut out as it dived down. I told my friend, a German POW about it. His name Otto Adler Luftwaffe guy about the v1 He grinned and said. I think you would have liked it to land on your school. TRUE.”

    V1 at Radcliffe

    To summarise and from what I can gather having looked at the books I have which refer to the scene in Northern England and nationally are;
    a) Most German PoWS chose to work but officers could not be forced to work and most of that will have been in and around the prison camp. They could not do ‘war work’ but then all work was essentially war work.
    b) There is some evidence of German PoWS working on farms before 1944/45 in Scotland but not much. Evidence that before the invasion of Normandy, German PoWS were shipped to North America where they did do some work. The IWM photos above clearly show PoWS working outside the Glen Mill prison camp early in the war, though they appear to be under armed guard.
    c) After 1945 a great deal of evidence of German PoWS being taken to farms, working under supervision of the farmer, then returning to the prison camp at the end of the day, with restrictions easing over the post war years and many choosing to stay on in Britain and settle down, or, as many people have said on here, father children but move on.

    diary of German PoW

    Hitler’s Last Army: German POWs in Britain by Robin Quinn due for publication in a couple of months which looks interesting. Mr Quinn may be able to provide you the exact details you need?

    Below; German PoWS, Devon 1946
    7

  29. Mary says:

    Hello Ian,

    You are so kind. Thank you for taking the time to find and give me some interesting information and leads. I shall explore them all.

    God bless you
    Mary

  30. Mary says:

    Hello Ian,

    I’ve spent quite a few hours today following up on the sites you sent. Yes I had visited the ‘radiomarcon.com’ one and have a lot of that information in my file. I’m setting the novel in and around Devon and noticed there were three POW camps there. I Googled Bickham Camp in Yelverton Tavistok, Devon.I submitted a question asking when the first POWs were interned there. A Yahoo window popped up asking for my Yahoo UK & Ireland password. I live in Canada now and have access to the North American sites. I’m assuming you are in dear old Blighty and wonder if you could get an answer to my question.

    Hopefully and with gratitude Mary

  31. David says:

    As a boy I was living up the hill from Grotton. On a summers day I looked up to see that two strangers were coming through the gate. They were, if I remember rightly, dressed in brown dungarees with large round patches on chest and back. I think they were Italian ‘prisoners’ out for a walk. They Oldham archives have confirmed that the Italian prisoners were allowed out to work on local farms.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi David, thanks for your visit and your memory. Yes Italians certainly had more freedom to get out and about. I was reading one acount somewhere (think it referred to Bury) where Italian PoWS were able to drive vehicles. Think it was in a copy of the Bury Times, a letter from a disgruntled local complaining about them showing off and flirting with the local women.

  32. Mary says:

    Hi Ian,
    I will go back and see if I can find it. Sometimes I’m reminded of Hampton Court Maze when surfing the internet!

  33. Mary says:

    Hi Ian,
    I couldn’t find it! I’ve emailed my question to this site. Will let you know if they respond.

    http://www.coleshillhouse.com/yelverton-auxiliary-unit-and-operational-base.php

  34. Deborah Rosenthal says:

    Egan heckermann was also my dad and often spoke about Glen mill

  35. David A Hilton says:

    During the war years my step father William Handley was a hairdresser and used to go into the camp at Glen Mill to cut the prisoners hair his shop was in Lees brook now a hardware shop after the war ended he would open up his shop at 5-00am to cater for the night shift from the local cotton mills coming home ,having walked into his shop from South chadderton. His business carried on in Lees at various premises well into the 60s early 70s he died sometime in the 80s. He would often tell tales of the prisoners and how they made gifts out of bits of scrap metal or wood to sell or trade for extra’s and of his bit of trading in the black market. Hope you find this information of interest . David

  36. Hi David,

    It was really interesting to read your little story. It’s good that these tails are documented before they are lost to history.

    Thanks,

    Chris

  37. Colin Brooks says:

    Hi I am delighted to note that an archive ref the Glen Mill exists. I was born in 1942, and until about the same time as the Mill was demolished we lived in Greenacres Road. As rather unruly children we played in Greenacres Cemetery, the other end of which was the Glen Mill. So to some degree that was also a playground, and I remember Vitafoam being in residence. My main purpose for writing this is because as I grew up I often wondered why TV never showed any film of the Glen Mill.

    In 1976 my job took me to Brazil for 2 years, ensconced in my flat with local TV, I struggled to master the language, trying to guess what was being said most of the time. One evening, during a programme put out by TV Globo, I saw a short piece of film of the Glen Mill. Not having a command of the language I didn’t know the context of the short film. I am convinced it was the Glen Mill, the short film depicted a “Tommie” with rifle, greatcoat and tin helmet standing at a position which could have been a point on the perimeter of the mill lodge with his back to a distinctive flat piece of ground. All other background had sloping features. I don’t know when the Rugby ground was made at that point, but it was certainly there when I was a child. I think the horizontal stripes on the building and the flat land in a background of sloping land suggests to me that it couldn’t be anywhere else. There is a very large German population in Brazil, (including the then President, Guisel). Its not inconceivable that this film originated with a Glen Mill P.O.W.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your visit and comment. I was very surprised when researching Glen Mill at how little there was about it.

      Interesting to read of your time in Brazil. The horizontal stripe is something I have looked for when trawling for photos, it is not that common a feature so you are probably correct. I have a book somewhere on the history of cotton mills, shall take a look and see if there is a reference to Glen Mill, though I probably looked when I did this piece and found nothing.
      Ian

  38. Ian D B says:

    REQUEST FOR INFORMATION FROM THE USA RE; WHITEHEAD FAMILY OF OLDHAM

    Received this message and a couple of photos from a woman in the US. Please contact me (IanDB@gmx.com) if you may be able to assist, and I will put you in touch.
    Thanks
    Ian D B

    “My late father served in the U.S. Army. I was recently was going through some of his photographs from the war when I came across a page from his time in Oldham, Lancashire.
    He had befriended a family with children, and there are several lovely pictures of him with the Whitehead kids. Sadly, it seems Ian Whitehead was killed, along with three other children, when they came upon an undetonated German bomb. Apparently, they were tinkering with it. (He had a newspaper photo of Ian attached to the page, although there is no obituary.)
    There is also a notation saying this newspaper was sent to him when he was in France (which would probably be 1944).
    My father died last year at the age of 91. He often spoke to schoolchildren about his experiences in the war (he later served in the US restoration government in Berlin), and talking about the children he met, from England to France to Germany, was important to him.
    He could never speak of Ian, however, without tearing up.
    I am trying to locate the family — it appears there were four Whitehead children? — to perhaps send them copies of the photographs.
    Best to all.”

    9

    9

    • Tracey Annette says:

      Given the information provided (excellent stuff) by Sylvia and the fact of where the bomb exploded could I suggest you try contacting the organisations I will refer to;
      Burbage Good Neighbours
      Withington Assist

      Both these organisations are part of the South Manchester Neighbourhood Care Groups and support local older people, many of whom are in their late 70s, 80s and 90s. There is a good chance someone will have a memory of these boys or their families.
      I am more than happy for you to email me so I can put you in touch. t.annette@manchester.gov.uk

  39. Sylvia (nee Cadd) says:

    Hi ………

    For those interested in helping find information for the lady from the US, I have had friends help me to find the following ………….

    The 4 boys killed were Ian Alexander Whitehead (12) of Errwood Road; William Meare (18) Moorcroft Drive, and Ronald Salt (15) of Errwood Road — all of Burnage ; and Clifford Astall (15) of Withington. A 5th boy Ronald Johnston (15) of Withington was injured.

    The accident happened on June 2 1944 ……. the boys had been out hiking in Staffordshire when they found a mortar bomb and seemingly took it home because the explosion happened “in a house in Manchester”.

    The only birth reference we can find that seems to fit was for an Ian A Whitehead born June quarter 1932 in Tynemouth, mother’s maiden name Harrison.

    One possible siblings could be Alan R Whitehead, born March quarter 1930, Tynemouth …… there are too many Whitehead mmn Harrison born in Oldham and other areas after 1932 to be certain that they are siblings (Whitehead / Harrison marriages are surprisingly common!)

    References to the tragedy were found in 3 newspapers, from different parts of England, but not from the Manchester area!

    Errwood Road was (is!) in Burnage, a suburb of Manchester, about 4 miles south of Manchester city centre, east of Didsbury village and bordering on Stockport.

    Oldham, of course, is about 7 miles north-east of Manchester.

    There is no information as to whether Ian’s family had lived in Oldham, or whether this lady’s father met the family in Burnage.

    I can’t provide any more help than this …………. but hoped the information might spark a memory in someone else.

    Ian ………….. the hope that others may know more than me is why I’ve posted this on here, rather than email you

    • Ian D B says:

      That’s a terrific bit of research Sylvia, thank you for taking the time to put it all together. Because this page gets so many views from people in or from Oldham and who were around in the 1940s or have knowledge of that period, I thought it might stand a good chance of yielding some results. As you say, all this might spark a memory.
      thanks again,
      Ian

  40. Dave says:

    Hi there, just stumbled across this site, I recently received copies of my late fathers army service records and he was a sergeant at Glen Mill Camp, from what I can make of the records, from 1943 until 1945 when he left the army. Previously based at camp 63, Balhary Estate, Scotland.
    No doubt there is no one alive to remember him, his name was Valentine KAY.
    Great to know of the display at Oldham Local Studies, and I will make a point of visiting there the next time I am In Oldham

  41. Ron Williams says:

    As a youngster I used to deliver paper for Cockcrofts of Salem Brew my round always finished in the cookhouse at Glen mill it was on the right hand side opposite the mill where the prisoners were housed and each morning on leaving I would find something in my paper bag sugar,tea, even slices of meat put there by a German trustee this was before the minimum age for paperboys was introduced and I must have been about12-13

  42. My father was the vicar at Holy Trinity, Waterhead during the war, and on alternate Sundays would walk down to the camp to take a Communion service, the alternate weeks were taken by the vicar at Greenacres. My father lost a leg in the trenches in 1916,and so in bad weather needed 2 sticks, so I would carry the case with his robes, ( in those days the loss of 2 limbs was the minimum requirement for transport). After the war, circa 1970, the camp had been taken over by Oldham Social Services Dept. and was a training centre for Mentally Retarded Adults, my wife was an instructor there. The original buildings were still in use as classrooms and workrooms, one being converted into a bungalow, where they could be trained to live on their own. In those days it was called ‘The Arthur’s and Kenyon’s Centre’. If you need pictures of the buildings, then probably Social Services would be able to supply. I still have in my memory some of the tales that the guards told my father if you are interested.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Gerald, thanks for adding your memories. Happy to have any stories you have about the PoW camp from your dad. It is as good a place as any to record and preserve these stories for a while longer.
      Ian

  43. In one of the messages there is a comment about the large number of crashes in one region. During the war, one of the valleys was known locally as ‘Death Valley’. After bombing Manchester, the German planes would be flying low, and were kept at this low altitude by our fighters above them. They had to find valleys to get through the Pennines. Our fighters steered them into valleys with a dead end which they couldn’t see until it was too late, so they crashed.
    When I went to Glen Mill with my father, I was considered too big a risk to be allowed into the service, so I stayed in the guard room. Here I was taught how to aim a rifle. They did a good job, a few years later I was on the school’s shooting team.
    I knew about prisoners being released on Parole to work on the farms. I would say that was 1943, or maybe earlier. I also knew about the tennis court, and again prisoners were allowed, on parole, to compete with the local ladies, which was appreciated by both sides.
    For a short while, an SS officer inhabited the camp, and the atmosphere changed immediately. The other inmates were totally afraid of him. I know that he stormed into the senior German Officer’s office threatening to have him hung drawn and quartered when Hitler captured England, for not ordering the soldiers to break parole and escape. I think that he was removed for his own safety. 5999 to 1 is not much of a chance.
    There was a tunnel attempt, but I am not sure of the details, whether it was discovered before or after use. I think that the intention was to come up in Greenacres Cemetery, but they got the measurements wrong, and came up before the cemetery wall, and were rounded up immediately.
    My final tale will intrigue the lady who is writing a book, but this is fact. It was possible to escape from Glen Mill, in fact it was done nightly over quite a length of time, by a British Guard. Every night at lights out, there was a roll call, and everyone was present. Every morning there was also a roll call, and all were present. Between the two roll calls no one was seen to leave or enter the building, yet it was a well known fact that one of the guards never slept in the building, but went home to his wife every night. Eventually the guard unit was to be replaced, and this guard was called into the C.O’s office, and on promise of no disciplinary action gave this explanation. Before the mill closed and became a prisoner of war camp, he used to work at Glen Mill. One of his duties was to clean out the flues, a task which I understand would be performed once a week. After getting into bed at lights out, he would dress, and go down to the boiler room, enter the flue by the boiler, walk along it past the chimney, and out of a second flue which finished in the cemetery. In the morning he would return by the same route and be in bed for the wake up call. Cleaning the flues was a dangerous job, someone could trap you inside by lighting the fire. I suspect that this was the reason for the second flue. If someone lit the fire, you could not get out because of the fire, but more dangerous was the lack of oxygen. On smelling smoke, you would have to get back past the chimney, where the hot oxygen depleted air would rise forming a vacuum which would draw fresh air through the second flue, which would allow you to reach the exit door and escape.
    I hope these tales are useful to you.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Gerald,

      I got both your comments; I have this website set so that I approve comments before they appear. I get loads of spam otherwise, even with spam filters to deflect most of it.

      Anyway, thanks for adding all that. It is very interesting, especially the tale of the SS officer. It’s a fascinating read and good to get your stories added to this page. The tunnel attempt would have been gruesome if they had succeeded in tunnelling through the cemetery! Interesting to read too of the workings of the mill.

      This page on this site has details of the Luftwaffe aircraft which were shot down in the region.

      http://aircrashsites.co.uk/luftwaffe-crash-sites/

      Ian

  44. I wrote my memories and sent them, but they have disappeared somewhere in the web, so I shall try again breaking things down into smaller sections.
    Work parties were let out on parole certainly by 1943 and the tennis court was used both by Germans and local ladies, much to the pleasure of both
    I only remember Glen Mill as a place for German prisoners, I did not know about the Russians. I understand that Italians were housed at Failsworth, so it looks as if I could be wrong on this. Most of the time there was a reasonably friendly atmosphere about the place, an East German I was showing round when I was working, asked if I could show him where his father had been imprisoned, as he had always spoken well of the place.
    For a short while the atmosphere changed, an SS officer arrived. Every look, every word had to be guarded. On day he stormed into the office of the senior German Officer, threatening to have him hung, drawn, and quartered, when Hitler conquered England, because he had not ordered the Germans to break their parole and disappear. He was shortly ‘Removed’, probably for his own safety, 5999nti 1 is not a good bet.
    If this arrives, I will try again with the rest.

  45. Julie Smith says:

    My step dad was a prisoner of war here. His name was Egon Heckermann he often talked about working on the farms during his time there

  46. Mary Haskett says:

    Hello Gerald,
    I have tried to respond to your most informative post about the stories of Glen Mill, but my comment is not going through, possibly because I am in Quebec far away from my regular server! However will try once more.
    Thank you so much for what you have shared, I’m sure this will be most helpful as I continue to work on my novel
    Blessings
    Mary

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Mary, sorry for the delay in you seeing your comment appear; once submitted comments wait for my approval, which is when I log on and see them. Otherwise this page would be full of spam.

  47. Mary Haskett says:

    I understand and appreciate your diligence. It’s a great and informative site
    Mary

  48. James Farrell says:

    Hello,
    I have recently acquired from an old junk/antiques shop a piece of prisoner of war art plaque and associated water colour book with approx 30 hand painted cartoons, depicting every day life at the prison, very good quality.
    They are dated 1945 and have a signature by the artist, and also on the plaque there is the badge of the Dorsetshire regiment.
    I would be interested in possibly tracing the artists family, has there ever been any way of contacting ex prisoners in any of the recent forums?
    Regards
    Jim Farrell

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi James, that sounds like a fascinating bit of history. It’d be great to see a photo of the plaque or some photos or scans of the sketches and add them to this page, I could insert them in the main narrative with a credit of course.

      Hope you are able to make contact with the prisoner’s family. Someone reading this may be able to help.

      Ian

    • Alex Morgan says:

      Dear Mr Farrell

      Please can you contact me regarding the plaque & book.

      alex.morgan2@yahoo.co.uk

      Yours Faithfully,

      Alex Morgan

  49. Ian D B says:

    Some additional images added today, please see the bottom part of the main narrative.

  50. Ian D B says:

    Re; the watercolour sketchbook of PoW Friedrich Frauböse, Jim has kindly sent me all 31 images. I have uploaded all these in a separate page, please see here

  51. g h smith says:

    as a boy living in glodwick i remember the italian pow’s being marched up the road, going to work at the earl mill, hathershaw, which was used as a british transit camp. being patriotic we booed them. however when italy changed sides they were given their own uniforms but still did the same work. so then we gave them a cheer.after the war the german prisoners were put to work on the sites where prefab houses were built. later on they were allowed out but still in pow dress, some people invited them for tea, but most people thought that was too much.

  52. kurt says:

    hi Ian my father was a prisoner of war at glen mill if you have any questions I will try to give you some info please feel free to contact me at myprickelyhedgehog@gmail.com yours sincerely k r heckermann

  53. Gavin Oconnor says:

    I’ve lived in lees pretty much all my life and never knew this !! Since being a kid and going to the nearby primary school always walked along the old railway to and from and never knew about this.

  54. Donald says:

    Great site Ian & fascinating article.
    Reading about young Paul Hartmann I looked up the Oldham council records and he is indeed listed as being buried in Greenacres Cemetery (he is listed as Paul Hartman, age 19, died 13/2/1945). So using the grave location I decided to have a look this afternoon but could not find the grave. Although I am not 100% certain that I had the right spot, it does look as though the grave is unmarked. If I am right and it IS unmarked then that would seem a shame (apologies if I just missed it). I don’t think I’ve ever seen any German military headstones in the UK, outside of Cannock Chase German Cemetery, so it would be interesting to know if the Hartman/Hartmann grave was simply overlooked or whether no German POWs who died here recieved military headstones.
    Anyway, nice site – a great resource.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Donald, thank you for looking for Paul Hartman’s grave and for providing the detail that his body was first buried at Greenacres (and for your comments about the website!)

      It seems his body was later removed and reburied in the German Cemetery at Cannock.

      Here is a photo of his grave there, this is from find-a-grave. Note the discrepancy between the date of death recorded by Oldham Council and the date on his gravestone.

      Ian
      7
      http://www.findagrave.com/index.html

      • Donald says:

        That was fast! Ironically I once chanced upon the Cannock Chase cemetery by accident – i had not been aware of it until walking past from the Chase carpark.
        It is certainly a more fitting resting place than Greenacres. I had never really thought about the POW camps in the UK before and so this week have read some fascinating stories about Oldham and Bridgend etc.
        Thanks again Ian.

        • Ian D B says:

          Glad to have helped with your interest in PoW camps Donald. Cannock cemetery is a lovely place, was built around the existing trees and the spot was chosen because it looks like some parts of Germany. Last time was up there my wife and niece were watching Paloma Faith at Cannock while I took the opportunity to visit the cemetery.

      • David Lonergan says:

        I am currently involved in a project with regard to one of the seven German prisoners who escaped from Glen Mill the day before Paul Hartmann was killed. It was at the roll call to discover who was missing and the unrest among the Germans at this roll call that resulted in Paul Hartmann’s death.
        At the time of his funeral the Daily Herald front page gave a short report of his funeral together with a picture of his comrades saluting at his graveside. I have a copy of this but dont know how to post a picture on this site. The quality is not very good though. Oldham archives have two pictures of his funeral but I could not get copies from them because of copyright infringement.

        • Ian D B says:

          Thank you David, you could email it to me at IanDB@gmx.com, then I could upload it? Be interesting to add to the narrative.

        • Chris says:

          That’s very interesting David.It will be good to see the photograph on the site.

          I used to play in the Pill Boxes around the old mill and my Grandad used to tell me stories of a German POW from the mill who he became friends with after he returned from the war. It took along time to repatriate the prisoners back to Germany.

          They kept in touch for a longtime but sadly lost contact when the Berlin wall was built. I wrote a little about the mill and the POW camp in a book ‘Oldham Discovery Walks’.

          Look forward to seeing the picture.

          Best regards,

          Chris

  55. Tim Crossley says:

    Regarding Paul Hartmann who was shot at Glen Mill. I work as a gardener for a man who who was a junior in the labs at the hospital where Paul was taken. He said the German officers kicked up a stink about the sentry using a dum dum bullet or something due to the mess of the lads head. They were taken down to the hospital and shown the skull with the bullet still embedded in it. They were shown great respect as German officers not mere pows

  56. Michael Taylor says:

    Hello,
    I have read the posts on your site with much interest as I live in houses just off Whellyhole street which are opposite the Glen Mill site. The house I live in is where the timber bungalows of the Arthurs Institution used to be. There are new houses currently under construction on the site of the Glen Mill. I have lived in this district all of my life and my mum has told me of German POW visiting her and my grandparents house on Huxley Street Clarksfield area whilst being held at Glen Mill. If you need any photos of the current location and development taking place now I would be happy to post them on this site.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Michael, thanks very much for your comment. By all means send a photo of the site as it looks now, email to IanDB@gmx.com and I will add it to the main narrative with a credit to you.
      Ian

  57. Ian D B says:

    For those with an interest, please see this page which has sketches made by a German PoW at Glen Mill. I added these some months ago and last month I was in contact with the artist’s son who sent me some more images including a PoW Index Card from Glen Mill. The additional images are at the top of the page.
    http://aircrashsites.co.uk/britain-at-war/cover-2/

  58. Ian D B says:

    Page updated with a handwritten account by a woman remembering the friendship she and her husband forged with 2 German prisoners from Glen Mill. Please see EDIT SEPTEMBER 2016 directly above this comments section (there are about 130 comments so you will have to scroll up a fair bit).

  59. Brian Hinchcliffe says:

    In the late 50s my family moved to Greenacres from Westend Street. At the top of our street, Prince Edward avenue there was a rough track between the cemetery wall and rows of allotments. I remember noticing the German crosses on graves close to the Clarksfield road gate. We often played in the field at the end of a track leading to the Glen Mill.
    The track led down past the bottom of the cemetery, towards Constantine street, to the bottom of Ramsden’s Field on the right and remains of the garrison on the left. There were a couple of huts, some foundations and a lot of weeds coming through old concrete and tarmac. There was a concrete ramp for vehicle maintenance that my father once used to underseal our car. There were the remains of a kind of railway signal box as if there had been a rail halt. At one point the Oldham corporation regenerated the garrison site as a rehabilitation unit for handicapped people. I recollect it being called the “Arthurs Centre”. The mill, or at least part of it, was in use for some of the time by Vitafoam, making foam matresses. Later the area around and behind the mill became overgrown and a great spot for ratting. The mill lodge down the street was fun for fishing as the water was always warm and the fish were huge (so it seemed at the time)

  60. David Walker says:

    My grandfather was foreman gravedigger at Greenacres cemetery and the prisoners used to help there.Women used to leave cigarettes behind gravestones for them and my grandad pinched them.I went to Clarksfield school and just inside the entrance to the cemetery on Clarksfield road there was some German graves of prisoners that died at the Glen Mill.

  61. Chris says:

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the information about the graves in the cemetery. I also used to go to Clarksfield School (in the 70’s and very early 80’s).

    Whilst I’m sure my grandparents pointed the graves out to me, I don’t remember them. I will go and have a look at them sometime soon.

    Best regards,

    Chris

  62. David Walker says:

    The graves in Greenacres cemetery are no longer there I think they were dug up and the bodies reinterred somewhere else .

  63. Sue Smith says:

    The remains of the PoW’s were disinterred in the early 1960 and re-buried in the German War Cemetery, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

  64. V. Ahmed says:

    I read the various stories with great interest. I was looking for mention of a German who was in Oldham around the time of the First World War. My Great Auntie Nellie used to speak of the most handsome German man she had ever seen. He used to play the piano, was tall and blonde. She used to swoon as she said his name. She died in 1980 and I remember his name had a rhythm as she spoke. I was trying to recall his name in the hope I would see something in print to remind me.
    My great auntie knew of the stigma attached to going out with Germans and never did go out with her pianist whom she admired to the day she died.
    Does anyone know of his name?

    • William Smith says:

      My Father was stationed at Glen Mill prisoner of war camp for his last posting of the war, he was a bugler who originated from Northhampton, He met his future wife, My Mother” at a local pub and spent the rest of his life in the Saddleworth area of Oldham.

  65. Ian D B says:

    Page updated with a copy of a newspaper showing a photo of PoWs giving Nazi salute at the funeral of PoW Paul Hartmann (referred to in the main text) who was shot and killed during a disturbance at the camp.

  66. Markus says:

    My father, he is still alive and 90 years old, was at that time at POW camp Glen Mill. He was part of this story with Paul Hartmann and told me the real story. He stood next to him and was sprinkled with blood from the hit of the bullet…
    At that time the news told, that Paul Hartmann was a SS-man, but he wasn’t. He was a medic and last but not least a victim…
    My father spend 4 years as PoW in England and came home in 1948. He kept his experiances in English camps and later on also outside in best memory. He still remember a lot of names of the English staff…

  67. Ruth Jacobson says:

    We are putting on a ‘War Memories’ event at Manchester Central Library on Saturday 4th November 2-5pm. Would you like to come?
    With the endorsement of WarGen, Central Library and the Manchester Indie Film Makers Group (MIFMG), are presenting a single performance using film and written material from the published WarGen (veteran and civilian experiences during WW2) pages on the internet, with a bias towards the North West.
    This performance is timed to be close to this year’s Armistice Day, just one week later, and will be in remembrance of all who lived and showed such bravery during the First and Second World Wars.
    All are welcome, please let me know if you’d like to come: r.jacobson@manchester.gov.uk/ 01612341981

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