Archaeologists uncover UK war prison from World War II near Sheffield

The prisoners were treated poorly: fed out of dustbins, standing outside in mud for hours, and "squashed" into tents or barracks.

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July 5, 2019 14:12
1 minute read.
German POWs marching along Juno Beach landing area at Bernieres Sur Mer

German POWs marching along Juno Beach landing area at Bernieres Sur Mer. (photo credit: REUTERS/KEN BELL/NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA)

 
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Archaeologists managed to unearth the remains of Lodge Moor camp near Sheffield, once Britain's biggest prisoner of war camp, in the South Yorkshire countryside, The Guardian reports.

Until now, the camp was overlooked, as it was buried under moss and within the woodland. About 1500 prisoner of war camps existed in the UK during WWII, but Lodge Moor was one of the most substantial, both in size and amount of prisoners contained.

The research by archaeology students managed to uncover that, during World War II (WWII), the camp managed to contain 11,000 captives, mostly Germans but also Italians and Ukrainians, some of which were the most "fanatical of prisoners."

At the beginning of WWII, the prison held mostly Italians who were "put to work on local farms" and had an altogether pleasant stay, with locals offering them tea regularly. Once German prisoners arrived, quality of life deteriorated rapidly.

According to Rob Johnson, one of the archaeology students who worked on the site, the prisoners were poorly treated at that point: fed out of dustbins, standing outside in mud for hours, and "squashed" into tents or barracks.

Admiral Karl Dönitz, a German captain in the Navy during World War I, was the most famous captive, according to records uncovered in the prison. He faked mental illness so as to be returned to Germany, where he later became a commander of Hitler's navy and afterwards a president of the German Reich.

A group of German prisoners managed to escape the site in 1944, but they were captured nearby a day later. Another prisoner was beaten to death by a large group of prisoners who believed that he told the Allied forces about their planned attempted escape. Two of his murderers were found guilty and hanged.

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