Ettington Places

 

THE ETTINGTON PARK PRISONER of WAR CAMP
The Tata employee speaking aabout the Coventry blitz went on to say, "Sometime [after the Coventry blitz], a number of officers and men of the Pioneer Corps arrived to prepare a Prison Camp on some of the Park land (which included the cricket pitch) and after the camps were established the Italian prisoners arrived. They settled in and made a concert hall, and were very deft at making finger rings from odd bits of metal."
The camp also had a small chapel and a prison. According to one source it was the Italian POWs who built the chapel. The camp was designated. r Camp No 31. German prisoners were brought in later in the war, from 1944 or thereabouts. Most of the prisoners were sent to work on the local farms. Tire Italians were set to work doing land clearance including that at Grove Farm.
Margaret Burt recalls, "They [The POWs] were allowed to walk out in the area during summer time and they used to go in groups of 2 to 6 or 8.
They also worked on the farms. There were so many jobs when extra help was needed. When [Mr Steventon] bought the windmill*, trenches had to be dug linking all the fields and laying pipes to the troughs. I am sure it was the Italian POWs who provided the extra help. German POWs worked ... on the farm later."

(*This was the wind-pump in the field known as 'Big Bend' belonging to Ivy House Fann. It is located along the track leading from the top end of Kents Kane towards the railway station)
The Tata employees sometimes organised social gatherings and dances at the Manor House and would invite the prison guards from the camp to these events.
Tony Biles has some memory of the camp itself (from the outside) as well as the POWs
"A prisoner of war camp was built in the grounds of Ettington Park. It was visible from the Newbold Lane that ran from the Halford Road along the park boundary' to Talton. With its high barbed wire fence and tall sentry towers at each corner it looked out of place in those tree studded surroundings.
We would pass that way delivering groceries to the Park and Alderminster and could see the guards and prisoners from the road.
The first prisoners to arrive were Italian. We stood and watched as they were marched through the village from the railway station to the camp. They had brown uniforms with circular-coloured patches on the back, front and legs. Later German prisoners replaced them.
As the war progressed, they worked on the land and were taken each morning by lorry with their guards. Occasionally they stopped at the shop and were allowed to come in and buy things if they had money."

Olive Burrows tells of the two German POWs allocated to her father-in- law Fred Burrows, to work at Rookery Farm. They were Herman and Karl and were under the supervision of the farm worker Bill Heritage. They proved to be very good men who worked hard and became family friends to Fred, Nellie and their children.
They were quite happy to run errands for the family and often made small wooden toys for the children. After the war they stayed in touch and Mrs Burrows has a number of items of memorabilia, including letters, photographs and a wooden puppet.

Thanks to Bob Allso and Tony Biles for the information