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List of World War II POW camps in the UK

The National Archives at Kew has a Foreign Office Inspection Report from 1947, which lists all the prisoner-of-war camps that were in the UK at that time. To see the report, click this link:


Camps in Lincolnshire:

No 10 (Stamford Camp, Empingham Road, Stamford [Standard type])

No 51 (Allington, Grantham [Standard type, now occupied by housing])

No 52 (Nether Headon Camp, Ladywell Rise, East Retford DN22 0PA [standard type. Light industrial estate occupied by paperwaste and Crown Engineering])

No 79 (Moorby Camp, Ravensby [Standard type])

No 80 (Horbling, Sleaford, [Standard type, occupied by housing])

No 81 (Pingley Farm Camp, Bigby High Road, Brigg [standard type, low grade agricultural use])

No 106 (Stamford Camp, Empingham Road – See no 10)

No 138 (The Rectory Camp, Bassingham [now a hostel])

No 148 (Castlethorpe Camp, Brigg)

No 153 (Fulney Park, Low Fulney, Spalding [formerly a large dispersed camp, now a market garden])

No 156 (Heath Camp, Pottergate Plantation, Wellingore [former dispersed RAF camp])

No 170 (Weelsby Camp, Grimsby [circular plan with irregular perimeter fence guarded by 9 watchtowers. Site is restored parkland. See Camp no. 292])

No 256 (Willingham House, Market Rasen)

No 292a (Kirmington, Caistor [former RAF Kirmington or Humberside Airport. Exact location unknown)

No 292 / no 292b (Donna Nook Airfield, Ark Road, North Somercotes [former RAF Donna Nook, exact location not known)

No 407 (Usselby Camp, Usselby, Market Rasen [farmland])

No 1012 (Canwick Camp, Canwick, Lincoln [pre-existing Camp of Nissen huts on edge of woodland arranged around a playing field]).


The camps would not have all been in operation simultaneously, so earlier camp numbers were often reused for camps in other locations. Camps also changed their number if their status changed, or if they were divided and given two numbers, e.g. one for the German side of the camp and one for the Italian side, or one number for officers and a different number for other ranks. Temporary or minor transit camps weren’t recorded or given a specific number in official military documents.

The list ranges from Camp 1 (Grizedale Hall in Ambleside) to Camp 1026 (Raynes Park, Wimbledon.) Some sites have a letter suffix added to their number instead of a different number. Some authorities would become confused as to the location of certain camps, e.g. one memo from the Ministry of Health ran “We have been in touch with Wiltshire as regards the Farncombe Down Camp… and have been informed that Farncombe Down is in Berkshire, just over the border from Wiltshire.”

The haphazard numbering system might have been a deliberate plan to stop the Germans from finding out exactly where the POW camps were, to prevent paratroop raids from trying to rescue them. On the other hand, the Germans claimed they sought those locations to ensure they didn’t accidentally bomb the camps.

Most modern lists of the camps are based on archaeological work. Documents from the time often don’t reveal the camps’ addresses and POWs were forbidden to write the camp address on any letters they sent home. The Geneva Convention states that combatants were to clearly make the other side know details as to POW camp locations. The Foreign Office documents identified camps by address, but the ICRC would have received those locations in Lat/Long format.

In the early part of the war, the few camps built in Britain were either:

1) Command cages

2) interrogation centres

3) transit camps

4) internment camps.

Not every site listed in the numbering system was a true POW camp – a lot were hostels situated a distance from the “base camp” or its parent site. Base camps would have up to 7 hostels, and sometimes POWs would be billeted in places such as farms instead of being put in a camp.

Internment camps held civilian “aliens” detained in Britain or captured abroad. The rest were used to hold captured military personnel.

Command cages were either in buildings that already existed or were fenced holding enclosures.

These first camps had a mix of pre-existing buildings (such as country houses, Territorial Army camps, cotton mills, and racecourses), huts, and tents. The German prisoners would be interrogated and classed as Grade B / Grey (less clear feelings), Grade C / Black (pro-Nazi), Grade C + / Black (ardent Nazis), or Grade A / White (anti-Nazi) according to their political views, then they were sent to camps in Canada to stop them escaping back to Germany and so that food rationing wasn’t further strained by the extra influx of people. By late 1942, there were about 9000 POWs in Canada. (In the early years of the war, the British Army did not take many POWs and they were mostly airmen and naval men – the first prisoners were the Captain and crew of the U35 in September 1939, and the only two POW camps in Britain at that time were Camp no 1 [Grizedale Hall in Cumbria, intended for officers, which could house 200 POWs] and Camp no 2, [Glen Mill, which could hold 2000 other prisoners ranked sergeant and below]). After the eighth Army’s North African campaign against the Italians, the larger amount of prisoners taken there were first held in camps in North Africa, then a lot of them were brought to Britain to be held in “standard” purpose-built camps. Contracts for their building were given in 1942 – 1943 to a few construction companies but the POWs often built a lot of the “standard” camps themselves, living in tents until the accommodation was finished.

AFTER 1944:

After Germany surrendered and POWs returned from the USA and Canada, a lot of the camps struggled to hold the sudden huge influx of POWs. Additional accommodation took the form of bell tents erected in the prisoners’ compound, and at some camps new prisoner compounds were built. Accommodation was mostly under canvas during this time, but a few sites got extra 16ft-span Nissen huts to replace the tents. Nissen huts held 20 men each, and they slept on individual beds with straw palliasses.

No POW was supposed to be held under canvas in winter, but many sites had mostly tents for the POWs and huts for the guards!

Variety of buildings used:

– 18ft, 6 inch-span Ministry of War Production (MoWP) standard hut (most common one)

– Laing huts

– 16ft and 24ft-span Nissen huts

– British Concrete Federation (BCF) huts

– Orlithuts.


AFTER 1948:

A large number of the camps were handed over to county agricultural committees who then ran them as hostels for farm labourers. Many of the labourers were POWs who chose to stay. The hostels often continued into the late 1960s and early 1970s, and some carried on as foreign student hostels into the 1980s. Sites were usually turned into agricultural areas, used for housing, restoration of parkland, forestry, schools, as caravan sites, golf courses, industrial estates, sports centres, and wireless stations.

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