Ghosts of the county’s forgotten PoW camps
WHAT EX-RAF MAN HAS FOUND IN LEICESTERSHIRE DURING RESEARCH INTO BRITAIN’S WARTIME NETWORK
WHETHER suffering untold cruelties in the Far East or planning daring escapes from Colditz and Stalag Luft III, the image of the British PoW looms large in the national narrative of the Second World War.
But far less attention is given to Britain’s own network of prisoner of war camps. Leicestershire was home to at least 10.
Ex-RAF man Martin Richards, a postgraduate student at Falmouth University, Cornwall, has taken on the task of photographing the site of every PoW camp in the UK. So far, he has documented about 500.
His previous research project focused on Project Emily – the deployment of American-built Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles across the UK in the 1960s – but Martin describes his current undertaking as “much bigger”.
In his blog, he said: “I am undertaking a major project as part of my MA course.
“I have called my project Banged Up Aboard as it is an attempt to photograph the remains and current status of former Second World War prisoner of war camps.
“There were 500 or so camps within the UK, the locations of which in most cases is known. However, some places and the locations have been lost to time.”
In Leicestershire, Martin has documented PoW camp sites in: Scraptoft; Quorn House, Quorn; Garendon Hall, near Shepshed; Farndon Road, Market Harborough; Billesdon; Stoughton; Hathern; Old Dalby; Barkby and Edmonthorpe Hall, near the border with Rutland.
However, if you were to travel to see the remains of these camps for yourself, you might come away disappointed.
That is because many of the sites have now been built upon, with housing estates standing where the historic sites once were. Despite this, signs of their wartime use are still faintly visible in some cases.
In Beeby Road, Scraptoft, Martin said the outline of the original PoW camp buildings can still be seen, despite most of them having been demolished.
According to Martin, Quorn House is also of particular interest. He said: “The best site would be Quorn House, which is now owned by the same people who own the Quorn/Mountsorrel quarry.”
You can view all of Martin’s pictures from Banged Up Abroad by searching: