Allied POW Camp

Details

Allied Prisoner of War Camp

An account from J V Alexander of the U.N.R.R.A captured in Granville in March 1945 and a P.O.W till the end of the war (May 8 1945).


J V Alexander
Welfare Officer
U.N.R.R.A

Report of capture in Normandy Hotel during the German Commando Raid on Granville, France, on the night of 8th/9th March 1945, and subsequent stay in P.O.W Camp at St Helier, Jersey. Granville Raid details here: https://www.jerseybunkertours.com/granville-raid

"About 11:30pm Thursday, March 8th 1945 all Hotel lights noted turned on and off for about 5 minutes. About 1.30am March 9th Friday, noted waves of tracer bullets coming over housetops from harbour direction. About 2am boat noted approaching beach below Normandy Hotel. Actual landing made soon after in rubber boats, about 4 or 6 of them. Did not personally observe any firing from shore. The raiding party entered Hotel Normandy at once and fired several volleys along the ground floor corridor. I cam out of my room on the 1st floor and found Germans waiting at the head of the stairs armed with Tommy-guns. They did riot shoot as I half expected but took me to the front of the hotel where I waited while they collected others. There was considerable firing and much shouting going on all this while all this time by the Raiding Party but we were not hit. I was told someone opened fire on the Germans from the top floor of the Normandy but I did not observe this myself. Several prisoners were lined up against the quay wall and I understand searched and questioned. Some U.S Officers were taken from there on to the rubber boats and I also. We were transferred from rubber boats to a small launch and then to the prow of a larger vessel. Two of the U.S Officers were in pyjamas, one without stockings or boots. One of these was given a coat and one a blanket by one of the Germans as it was very cold and the journey back took about five hours. We arrived at St Helier, Jersey about 07:30am and after walking up the quay and waiting for a lorry, were taken to the old Military Prison.

Interrogation
We were interrogated twice by Lieut. Odel, first on arrival at the Military Prison and second about two weeks later at the former Metropole Hotel, the German HQ while not experienced in these matters I should say, at least in my case, the proceedings were correct as no pressure to answer was suggested in any way.

Stolen Articles
During the crossing by boat, a German soldier took all my personal property and papers. The papers including my passport were returned later, the other articles, which included a wristwatch, fountain pen, silver pencil, parker duo fold pencil, penknife, notebook, flash lamp etc, to the value of £20 could not said the Germans, be traced, although the application was made for the return of same during first 3 weeks verbally and by letter to the commanding officer on the 26th of March 1945. Other officers had the same experience.

Housing
From the 9th to the 24th we were billeted in the old Military Prison, when we were transferred to the P.O.W camp where there were already American P.O.W both sites were within 100 yards of big guns, and this was brought to the notice of the German Commander. The conditions at the first Prison Camp were hard for the American Enlisted Men and British Merchant Seamen as they had stone cells and for the first week no heating. It was very cold at night, moreover, most of the U.S Seamen had been picked up out of the water and had wet clothes on arrival. The officers had a wooden hut, wooden slat beds, mattress and pillow and 3 blankets. The Germans did as little for us as possible for the first week after which Red Cross parcels arrived and the whole atmosphere changed as the guards smelt tobacco through the cardboard. Bits of food appeared, a knife to cut the bread with, whispered news, toilet paper, plates and cups. Life became civilised again.

The living conditions at the second camp I should class as good. This, of course, was six weeks before the end. P.O.W's who had been on the island since August had a very different story to tell of the first five months. During the very cold winter, they had no heating moreover the buildings they were in were quite unsuited to winter conditions. Food was lacking in quantity till the arrival of the Vega in January.

Food.
Food generally from the Germans was inadequate, perhaps a 1000 calories a day. As in so many other cases, the Red Cross parcels saved the day for us.

General Remarks
From what I could gather the American P.O.W's who arrived on the island in the summer had a very thin time in the matter of food, accommodation and lack of fuel for about 5 months. After that things slowly improved. In my own case, their most serious lapse from Geneva Convention seemed to be the taking of personal articles. Finally, I would like to mention the courage and tenacious spirit of with which the Commanding Officer, Col John Reybold and those under him, continued the mental fight against the Germans, without rest to themselves or their captors. Undoubtedly this would have changed to active operations had an Allied landing taken place. In the meantime, attempts were being made to contact and lead underground forces and certain preliminaries were going forward to escape. Lectures in the use of German arms were given in the camp. Of our German guards Segt. Zimmer and Corporal Cannon won our respect and commendation for their treatment of prisoners. Also, I should like to pay tribute to the Red Cross and the people of Jersey for their help and their spirit of resistance."

Numbers 

Allied Senior Officer, Colonel John Black Reybold
41 US Prisoners of War
9 British Prisoners of War
2 Escaped (https://www.jerseybunkertours.com/american-pow-escape)

Snapshot of John Reynolds details:



 
German Record Details

German Camp Commander: Lagerkommandant Rittmeister Ichler

The only German documentation we have found so far is below. It is a reply from the German Commander of the camp to John Black Reybold (Allied camp commander) from his request on the 23rd of April for a move of the camp away from the German Guns and to be recognised as the official liaison of the P.O.W's.

Rough Translation below.

1. "The prisoner-of-war camp at its present location was erected for reasons of convenience and not for it to be exposed to any kind of bomb attack or otherwise.

The devastation of this war has shown that in a space as small as the island of Jersey there is no place outside the combat zone. Attacks both from the sea and from the air make every place on the island equally vulnerable

The relocation of the POW camp is therefore not acceptable."

2. "Your request to be recognized in the future as an intermediary between the camp authorities and the war-serving officers will not be granted. Pursuant to Article 41 of the Agreement on the Treatment of Prisoners of War of July 27, 1929"

 
Weapons and Equipment

 
Objective and Function (translated)

Allied P.O.W camp

WW2 Maps & Documents
WW2 Aerial Photos
WW2 Photos
Recent Photos

Exploring bunkers:

• Always get permission from the owner 
• Take a torch, a spare and one more for luck
• Don't go alone & tell someone where you will be and for how long
• You will get dirty as most are often full of rubbish and may have been used as a public toilet
• Anything you find still belongs to the person that owns the property
• Unexploded ordnance is still found in Jersey if you see or find anything that looks like ordnance please call the bomb disposal officer on 01534 612 612.

Jargon Help 

Widerstandsnest (WN) = Resistance Nest (RN) 
Small pocket of resistance, these would be made up of small groups of up to 10 men with light weapons. They would man Anti-tank weapons, an observation post or a field gun. 

Stützpunkt St.P = Strongpoint (STP)
Next level up from an RN and consisted of several RN's. STP areas would have a combination of weapons and different branches of the military used. Examples of this can be found with Strongpoint Greve de Lecq and Strongpoint Corbiere

Einsatzstellung = Operational Position or Action Post 
Smaller MG type position generally it was only maned during an alert 

Feldwache = Field Watch

Jäger Casemate was a special design and name for bunkers designed to hold a 10.5cm field gun

Sources of Information 

German Documents are housed at The National Archived in Washington or Archive in Kew UK 
T-78 Roll 318
T-78 Roll 317
T-315 Roll 1639
T-315 Roll 1643
T-311 Roll 27
T-312 Roll 1545

AOK 7 War Diary

OKW War Diary

Operation Green Arrow - Occupation of the Channel Islands MOD 584
Allied Technical Intelligence Reports 1944-45 
German Preparations for Invasion of the United Kingdom 1941-42
B-833, 319th Infantry Division (1941-45)
German Seacoast Defenses, European Theatre - prepared by the Seacoast Artillery Evaluation Board
Jersey Occupied by Michael Ginns - ISBN 978-1-905095-29-2
Operation Nestegg Plans 
Operation Hardtack Plans 
Operation Basalt Plans 
RAF Photos care of The National Collection of Aerial Photography
Bundesarchiv - Multiple Photos - and Files 
A Map of slave labour camps. Kindly Provided by Emilio Pérez 
Photo's and information provided by fans 
Onsite visits & internet research 
After the Battle Multiple Magazines 

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