Hut Ten - Prisoner Of War

Hut 10 – Prisoner Of War

Prisoners of War

For some Prisoners of War (P.O.W.), their worst enemy was boredom; a sense of futility and frustration which came with the dramatic, then gradual realisation that freedom had ended. For the unlucky ones, starvation, intense loneliness, sickness and tiredness became part of their daily life.

Red Cross Parcels

Over 190,000 Prisoners of War were confined in German, Italian and Japanese camps during World War II. Because of the third Geneva Convention, signed in 1929 by a number of countries, including Britain and Germany, much more could be done for P.O.W. than ever before.

The History of Eden Camp

The steady flow of Prisoners of War into Britain necessitated an expansion of the prison camp facilities. In early 1942, a small contingent of army personnel arrived at Eden Camp under a sergeant. Their task was to construct a barbed wire enclosure and erect tents for prisoners.

The first inmates of this very basic facility were approximately 250 Italian prisoners. The guards traveled to Oldham and brought them back to Malton by train. From Malton station they were marched through the town to the camp. The townspeople were to view these men with a mixture of hostility and compassion, for although they were the enemy they were clearly in an unhappy condition. As these prisoners were followed by others, the marching column was to become a familiar sight. The first prisoners helped in the construction of a larger permanent camp. The York based construction firm of Birch and Sons Ltd. were given the contract for actually setting up the buildings. The original site covered 8 acres and was enclosed by a barbed wire fence on 8ft high wooden posts. Single strand wire was strung between the posts at 9 inch intervals with an additional cross of wire between posts. At the top was an 18 inch overhang, then inside the perimeter wire was coiled barbed wire. Finally a small wire fence marked a no-go area.

Within the fence some 45 huts were erected, 18 of these were barrack huts with 64 men to a hut in double bunks. The other huts comprised of a hospital, laundry, recreation hut, cooking facilities, mess hall and ablutions.