The Prisoner of War – VE Day Edition
As I write this blog, we’re almost upon the 75th commemoration of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, which marked the end of the Second World War in Europe after the unconditional German surrender on 8th May 1945. Celebrations and street parties were held all over Britain and many people were hopeful that they’d soon be seeing their loved ones once again. For many prisoners of war, and their families, there was now hope of finally returning home.
Our collection includes several copies of The Prisoner of War magazine, which was free to the next of kin of prisoners of war. The journal brought regular news and updates from the camps and must have been a comfort to those who had friends or family detained.
This copy of the magazine, from May 1945, captures the mood at the end of the European war. More and more camps were liberated as the Allies moved through Germany. The picture on the cover shows scenes of celebration at the liberation of Stalag 357.
The editorial comments that, for prisoners of war, “their long ordeal is coming to an end, as I write, and indeed for many thousands has already ended. By the time these lines are printed it may well be that all our men in Germany will once again be free….But in the general rejoicing let us not forget the relatives of those who will not come back.”.
This copy of The Prisoner of War is amongst a number of items donated by the family of local man, Fred Taylor. Fred served with the South Nottinghamshire Hussars in North Africa at the Battle of Tobruk. He was captured and spent time at a prisoner of war in Italy. When the Allies pushed northwards through Italy the guards abandoned the camp and the prisoners set out for their own lines. Unfortunately Fred’s group were recaptured and sent to another camp in Austria where he stayed until the end of the war in Europe. Like many prisoners, Fred’s health suffered from his time in the camp and his health was never the same again, even once he returned home. The family kept the magazine, alongside photographs, letters, medals and badges related to Fred’s service during the war. The collection even includes the envelopes in which the magazine was posted to the family home in Smallthorne.