German Prisoner of War Camp
World War 1


Searching through the Archives of the Suffolk Free Press,
I came across these reports of German Prisoners of War in our village.

POW`s were housed in the Tannery, the "Jump" was the river crossing bridge in the centre of the village.

The Tannery had various uses; in the 1914-1918 conflict housing German Prisoners of War.
They used the drying shed as a dormitory, their names remaining until 1985 on small white cards above the places where their beds had been.

Bures Old Tannery still survives, a medieval timber framed dwelling of charm and atmosphere; the old drying shed, more recently the garage, and barn, are no more.
On their site is the new dwelling house named Bridge House.




Carl Volker
Born 2 August 1879
Taken Prisoner of War at Noyelles, France 28 September 1918
Died in Bures 17 June 1919 and buried in plot 47 of Bures Cemetery
Re-buried on 21 November 1962 in the German Military Cemetery,
Cannock Chase, Block 17, Row 18, Grave 427

The only German prisoner from WWI to be interred in Bures Cemetery according to The German War Graves Commission was Lance-Corporal Carl Volker.
Carl Volker was born in Liebenstein in the Germain State of Thuringia on the 2nd August 1879, and was a tailor by profession.
The German War Graves Commission states that Lance-Corporal Volker was a soldier serving with the 3rd Royal Prussian Infantry Regiment based inHanover. He was captured shortly before the end of the war in Noyelles, France on the 28th of September, 1918 and subsequently brought to England.
In the immediate aftermath of the war Lance-Corporal Carl Volker was originally posted as "missing" in the German War Losses Register.
However, although he was registered with the huge POW camp in Pattishall, Northamptonshire, Carl Volker was interned in Bures, probably in the Prisoner of War camp installed in the drying shed of the Tannery located by the bridge, generally known those days as "the jump" and where Bridge House stands today.

The German Prisoners of WWI remained in England for some time tohelp on the land before being repatriated, and those in Bures were noexception. It is a fact that the gardens at Great Bevills on the Sudbury
Road were created with the help of these prisoners.
Unfortunately, Lance-Corporal Carl Volker was drowned on the 17th of June 1919 while taking part in a bathing parade at "the jump", he was 39 years old.

Carl Volker left a widow, Emma, still living in a flat in Hanover in 1929.
However, there do not seem to have been any children of this marriage and according to the German War Graves Commission, to whom we owe many thanks for helping us to fill out our picture of WWI POW Lance- Corporal Carl Volker, all attempts at finding further relations have failed

Courtesy of Ian Gibbs
Military Historian

There were no POW Camps in Bures.


In 1946, the year after the end of World War Two, more than 400,000 German prisoners of war (POWs) were still being held in Britain, with POW camps on the outskirts of most towns. Clement Attlee's post-war government deliberately ignored the Geneva Convention by refusing to let the Germans return home until well after the war was over.

During 1946, up to one fifth of all farm work in Britain was being carried out German POWs, and they were also employed on road works and building sites. Fraternisation between the soldiers and the local population was strictly forbidden by the British government, and repatriation progressed extremely slowly. Then the ban on fraternisation was finally lifted - just in time for Christmas 1946. In towns across Britain, many people chose to put the war behind them and invite German POWs to join them for a family Christmas - the first the men had experienced in years.

There were two large POW Camps at Halstead.
HQ 129 north of Halstead on the A131 Sudbury Rd, holding about 500 Italians and an unknown quantity of Germans.
HQ 78 north of Halstead on the A131 Sudbury Rd, holding only German POWs,
Another local Camp was located at Stoke-by-Nayland, Tendring Hall holding 200 Germans.
Then smaller camps holding just 100 POWs, at Bulmer, Borley, Boxford, Bulmer and Liston

Arthur Clampin, who worked at Brook House Farm remembers, how Italian POW`s helped out with the hoeing and the sugar beet harvest.
In addition, four German`s housed in a Camp at Halstead were sent over to help with the grain harvest.
One prisoner could speak very good English, as he had previously attended an Agricultural College in Germany. Consequently, he was a tremendous asset to the farm as well as acting as an interpreter for the other three in the group. They were all good workers and preferred to work on the land, rather than be locked-up in the Camp.
We know from Arthur`s account the POW`s arrived from Halstead, but it`s very likely some others may have arrived from Stoke or Boxford.

There were Italians and German POW`s working at Hitchcocks Mill, with other German POWs working for Jack Leyland who managed a dairy herd at Bures Hall, others were also employed at Gt Bevills maintaining the gardens.
One German POW, Bertram Bellag remained in Bures after the war ended and lived along the Nayland Road

POW Camps were still occupied well into 1947 and 1948, which is verified by these Press reports.

October 30th 1947, Bury & Suffolk Free Press
Five German POW`s were fined 10s each for distilling spirits without a license at Tendring Hall Camp, Stoke by Nayland.

March 11th 1948, Bury & Suffolk Free Press
Sudbury police have a large quantity of clothing on their hands, the property was taken from a German P.O W., Gerhart Engler, formerly of Acton Camp who had escaped from close detention at Hardwicke camp, he had committed many crimes in the Hartest-Somerton area. Superintendent Butcher said had arrested Gerhart at Bures and recovered two suitcases of property, he was handed over to the military authorities at Colchester but he escaped again. Superintendent Butcher said Engler had been associating with a woman at Great Cornard and that she had a baby by him which had since died, Engler was the biggest liar he had ever seen.
In January he had appeared at Middlesex Sessions and some of the property recovered then had labels on from large stores in Croydon, he is now serving 18 months in Wandsworth.
Gerhart Engler, a P.O.W. now serving a prison sentence at Pentonville was selecting articles which belonged to him.
The Clerk said no-one came forward for some of the articles and that an order had been made for some things unclaimed to go to the Crown, Engler said some of the things were his and he collected a large pile which he said were his.
Superintendent Butcher said Engler had been associating with a woman at Great Cornard and that she had a baby by him which had since died, Engler was the biggest liar he had ever seen

May 27th 1948, Bury & Suffolk Free Press
There were heart-breaking scenes at Bury railway station recently when a large number of German prisoners from Fordham and Botesdale started on their way home after two and a half years in a POW camp. The party included some seventy high ranking naval and army officers. Just before the train departed a young woman, said to the wife of one of the prisoners entered the train and clung to him, the military and railway police tried to get them apart but they eventually came off together and the officials parted them on the platform, the German then hurried onto the train.

Suffolk and Essex Free Press
16th August 1945
George Austin of Mount Bures was one of many local servicemen who were held in Prisoner of War Camps in Europe and Asia.

NOTE:- My father was the Foreman of a very large arable farm near St Osyth, which had approximately twenty German POW`s working on the land. The only deterrent my father had was a 12 bore shot-gun, none of the POWs made any attempt to escape as they preferred working on the farm where they enjoyed free vegetables, such as Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflowers, Swedes, Turnips, Cabbages etc to take back to their Hostel.
They also made me wooden toys carved out of scraps of timber. To this day I still have a "ship in a bottle" which proudly stands on a shelf at home.

Updated 26/03/1945
alan beales