April Meeting: Skipton’s WW1 POW Camp by Anne Buckley

We heard an extraordinary story of a German naval officer who commanded a gunboat during the siege of Tsingtao and was captured in 1914 by the Japanese. Held at a camp in Japan, he escaped and tried to return to Germany via an overland route crossing China and Russia. Russia proved impassable so he returned to the Chinese coast and obtained passage across the Pacific to the then neutral United States. A land journey to New York followed by a berth on a ship sailing to Norway and a relatively easy crossing of the Baltic would take him home. However his luck ran out when the Royal Navy intercepted the ship as part of the sea blockade of Germany, and he was found, after a 48 hour  search hiding under a pile of matresses. Initially thought to be a civilian, he was interned in the Isle of Man but, as a German officer, his efforts to return to fight for the Fatherland ended in early 1918 as a prisoner of war at Skipton’s Raikeswood Camp.

This was just one story revealed by Anne Buckley’s research and the project to translate a 330 page book of memoirs the German prisoners published on their return home from Skipton. A most memorable meeting for a number of other reasons, the only one of which I will mention is Anne’s supply of Trench Cake and Macaroons made by Syrian refugees to an original egg-less great War recipe.