Friday, July 09, 2010

Slavery in Radnorshire?

When did slavery end in Radnorshire? Well I guess you could argue that it was in 1948 with the closure of the prisoner of war camps in Newbridge-on-Wye and Presteigne. When my father was demobbed in 1946 one of his first jobs was delivering lorry loads of POWS from the Pendre camp to their various workplaces around the district - didn't some work on the construction of the Claerwen reservoir?

Were these POWs really slaves? Technically they were not, although it must have felt like it. Hostilities had certainly long ceased and they were still being held against their will and used as forced labour in a foreign country. The position of the Italian POWs was particularly interesting as, since 1943, Italy had actually been an ally of the UK.

Perhaps many of these POWs, despite the rationing and harsh winter of 1947, have fond memories of their time in Radnorshire. A number married local girls and others returned to the area on holiday, although some had to wait until the fall of the Berlin Wall in order to do so.

If anyone has any information on these forgotten Radnorshire camps please leave a comment.

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