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Red Cross details of Prisoner of War in German hands

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 27, 2014

  • Charles Humphreys standing left-hand side

  • Trifle news from Bilston

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DURING our recent, and continuing, coverage of stories from the First World War, we have revealed many faces of this terrible conflict, but all have been heroic in their own way; the winning of medals, acts of courage and actions beyond the call of duty, and even the mundane, every day business of trying to win a war.

The stories leave us in no doubt that every single soldier, sailor and airman who served for King and Country deserves the utmost respect and Private Charles Humphreys' story is no exception. Mrs Morris, who lives in Long Lane, Rowley Regis, has been following the articles with great interest and we are grateful to her for sending us details of her late father when he was a prisoner of war in the early months of 1918.

Mrs Morris said in her letter, "My father, Charles Humphreys, was captured at St Quentin on March 21, 1918, and I have a photograph of him standing alongside two unnamed colleagues at the prison camp. I also have a copy of a document that was kept on file at the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland."

The information on the document is fascinating and would have been collated at some stage during Charles' internment. His full name (Humphreys, Charles H), date of birth (09.02.1884), place of birth (Smethwick), family's address (Louisa Humphreys, Oldbury Road, Smethwick), his rank ("Gemeiner" meaning Private in German), his unit (8 Royal Berks, C. Comp), service number (14706), and the date and place of capture (21.03.1918, St Quentin).

This information was given to the Red Cross by the German authorities and according to a list dated 13.09.1918, Charles Humphreys was a p.o.w. detained at Mannheim Lager, but initially held at Rastatt, originally a camp for French refugees that had become a military transit camp in 1918.

Charles was probably at Rastatt only for a brief time before his transfer to Mannheim Lager on the River Rhine. This was a camp that could accommodate 10,000 men, but it was strictly a clearing or exchange camp for British p.o.w.'s awaiting repatriation, so Charles may not have been there very long.

We have been inundated with First World War stories of Black Country men who took the King's Shilling and fought for the defence of their country, and we would like more. Please send your details to Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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